Essay on The Digital and the Humanities

Essay on The Digital and the Humanities

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1. Introduction: the Digital and the Humanities
Computers, digital tools and the Internet have been radically changing the way scholars work, collaborate and publish their research and supported the creation, the storage, the analysis and the dissemination of data and information.
While many areas of study within the natural, medical, and social sciences have a long tradition with these technologies, most of the humanities disciplines have been more reluctant and have found it more difficult or inappropriate to integrate computational tools that are generally built to perform quantitative analysis.
Even thought in the last years new activities and new research opportunities have emerged from the intersection between the humanities and the world of digital technologies, what we call today digital humanities, represents an undefined and heterogenous set of studies and practices that aims at understanding the implications and the opportunities that digital technologies can provide as media, tools, or objects of study in the humanities [1, 2].
What is sure is that the enormous quantity of information coming from digital collections and in a more general sense the “digital world”, is offering different opportunities to rethink the traditional research activities and tasks in the humanities (Moretti, Manovic...).
These new relationships between the digital and the humanities are rapidly demanding new modes of observation, exploration, and interpretation and in this perspective information visualization and interfaces are becoming essential tools to explore and make sense out of the
increasing quantity of available data.
Due to the fact that most of the methods and technologies adopted by the digital humanities come from other discipli...

... middle of paper ...

...ming from the Internet, not only to study the online culture, but in a more general sense as a unique data source to analyze society and culture (Rogers, 2009).
The situation in the artes and traditional humanities, especially literature and history studies, is quite different. They usually don’t create their own data but they rely on records, whether newspapers, photographs, letters, diaries, books, articles; records of birth, death, marriage; records found in churches, courts, schools, and colleges; or maps. Basically, “any record of human experience can be a data source to a humanities scholar” (Borgman, 2009).
Cultural records and materials are usually stored in libraries, archives, museums or other public and private agencies under a complex system of access rules and, if already digitized, through different online platforms build with different technologies.

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