Digital Hummanties













 (click on picture to enlarge)

The term Digital Humanities has caused a lot of discomfort in the literary world. Many people see it as a distraction from the traditional way of doing things; others see it as a new way of doing an old thing. But still many are wondering what digital humanities is in the first place. The term Digital Humanities doesn’t have an exact book definition, but it seems to be collaboration of computing and traditional humanities. The types of Digital Humanities we used in our web class were the Wordle and the Ngram viewer.

These were very helpful tools. The Wordle is the first picture above; it helped make the words I put in look interesting and colorful all while still telling about the story. This would be a good thing for a teacher to use when they are trying to engage their students in the lesson. The down side of this tool is that one cannot choose which words exactly will be put in a larger font, which one of those words the Wordle will choose as most important and which of the important words the Wordle might fade and make smaller. I tried to create my Wordle many times, on different days, and I got at least three different results on which word was chosen as the most important with the largest font. In the Wordle that is posted above, the words that are most important are mother and sick. In “First Love” by Emilia Pardo-Bazan, those two words are not at all important or key words. In that respect the Wordle is not good in for literary study. But it is a good way to make words grab a class’ attention and maybe even have them participate in making the Wordle.

The second tool was the Ngram. Using the Ngram is fairly easy and is an interesting tool. One can use it to look up words and see how often it is used in books from as far back as one would like until present day. This tool actually surprised me, I did not know something like this existed. I looked up the word fond because people do not normally use this word in today’s world, but may have used it often in the past. To be fond of something is to have a liking for it or some sort of affection. I found it in my story and thought it would be a good word to look up. When I put in this word I also put the dates 1850 until 2008. The chart above the essay and underneath the Wordle shows the results I got. This could be a good tool for a researcher to use, but it might lead to doing more research.

I do not think that using the Wordle or the Ngram is the best thing to do as opposed to the traditional way of doing things. I think it really depends on the person and which method they think works best for them. What works for one person may not work for another.  However, if the method used before was not time consuming or hard to use at all, then there should not be a reason for these new methods to appear. They are available though, so one should not feel guilty for wanting to try new methods.  If one were saying that these devices, and ones like them, should solely be the interpretation for literature they are mistaken. One should not completely disregard old methods in exchange for the new digital method. I do not believe that Digital Humanities was invented in order to create a conflict between the traditional way and the digital way of doing things, but simply to perfect it or make it easier for the upcoming generations.

 

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