The student committee for Digital Humanities held an event addressing the idea of “What is Digital Humanities?: A Conversation” in Love Library last Thursday. The student branch is a network of DH scholars, researchers, teachers, and students at SDSU and in the region that seeks to study digital technologies, employ conceptual practices in research, and reflect upon the impact of the digital. Dr. Pam Lach, Dr. Adam Hammond and Dr. Nathan Rodriguez comprised a panel of experts on Digital Humanities here at SDSU and their presentations shed some light on the growing field of Digital Humanities. This was the first in a series of events the Digital Humanities Collaborative (DHC) plans to hold over the course of this school year.
The overall purpose of the meeting was to answer some questions about our current understanding of the Digital and to address concerns and voice opinions about the future of ‘Digital Humanties’. With the discussion continually revisiting the importance of the digital in contemporary society, it became evident that the Digital and Humanities (which were once understood to be mutually exclusive to each other) are, in today’s age of technology, linked and are often (and should be) studied in conjunction.
Dr. Pam Lach shared her research, which helped to exemplify uses for digital technology within the parameters of literature as well as demonstrated how digital technologies have been useful in furthering her research strategies. Lach’s research proves that technology can intersect with the humanities and help us in improving our research (through improved research techniques and technological advancements – such as allowing access to digital databases, articles, etc.).
Dr. Adam Hammond focused on the potential for students to get involved with artificial intelligence, either as an innovative, upcoming potential career path or simply as a way to improve our research approaches by studying the Digital together with Humanities. Hammond was very clear in explaining the concept of ‘Digital Humanities’ as the intersection of humanities and computation. In other words, those who study Digital Humanities are humanists learning computation as well as scientists learning about literature. Hammond strongly feels that we need to have conversations about Digital Humanities in order to shape it to fit our values as humanists.
Finally, Dr. Nathan Rodriguez shared his findings about how people are using the digital humanities (social media) to connect with each other and create their identities. Rodriguez suggests social media is now being used as a safe place to try on different self identities, in a place that they can connect with a wide range of interests and people.
All three panelists made connections between our dependence on technology and sought to remind us that our advancing technology can help us rather than hinder us. By using technology to improve methods of study, research and teaching we can integrate the Digital into the Humanities in a beneficial way for us and for the future.