Digital Humanities

You hear about a stirring symphony, never released as part of an album - where do you find it? You need a guide to use a new tool that you bought - where do you look for it? You want to hear someone explain a recent news event, but you don't know anyone talking about it, specifically. Where do you find someone who knows what's going on?

Whatever your exact answers to these questions happen to be matters less than the underlying things they will all predictably share. You might have answered with a general idea like "the internet." You might have answered with a specific web platform (perhaps the same for each question!) like "Youtube" or "Reddit."

No matter what your specific answers were, however, they almost certainly referred to

  1. internet content
  2. posted on a business-owned platform
  3. by people you have no other connection to
  4. paid for by advertisements.
  5. and displayed to you by an automated-decision-making process you do not even begin to understand.

There are a few outliers who do not share these common elements. Wikipedia is a possible answer, and they are a non-profit which does not run advertisements. Duck-Duck-Go is an internet search engine whose decision-making about what content to display is quite straightforward. Most importantly, your answer to one or another of these questions might simply be a personal friend or family member that you could ask.

These exceptions, however, do little to reduce the weight of these five points in our lives. We have passed the point where the academic, humanist, pastor, or concerned citizen can afford to let technical issues be taken care of by someone else.

You need to know computers in order to seriously pursue a knowledge of anything else.

This page is intented as a starting point to address some of the topics surrounding the humanities in the age of the universal Turing machine.