Why do we need the Digital Humanities? Especially when the nature of the term ‘Digital Humanities’ is, in itself, so contested. Experts in the field often have various definitions of what the Digital Humanities actually are and to what extent they should be used. Although I am no expert, I’ll go ahead and give my verdict.
The Digital Humanities strike me as fundamental in the teaching of humanities. It seems only natural to me that students are taught the broadest range of tools that can help them in their studies and that these will then translate into the ‘outside’ world. What could be better for that than Digital Humanities? Not only would you still be achieving the same level of education that you receive from a traditional humanities-based degree, but you will have extra computational transferrable skills as well. If, as Cathy N. Davidson has suggested, we teach children to code in schools for example, it would increase their confidence and open them up to another skillset.
Familiarising children with as much technology as possible seems crucial to me in today’s society. Not that I advocate prioritising technology over traditional learning, nor wish to worsen the already-infused stereotype of children being technology zombies. But to introduce key employability skills, and to lessen the gap between humanities and other, more ‘respected’ subjects? That, to me, is invaluable.
Digital technology is a certainty in any profession and many hobbies of today, and therefore bringing it slowly into the humanities would appear to be the next logical step. As a researcher and essay writer, I know I am grateful for the research opportunities that the Digital Humanities have already given me, and that was without knowing fully what they entailed. I can only imagine what sorts of ideas I could bring to fruition with fully integrated Digital Humanities courses and facilities at my fingertips.
But for now, I will keep on using what I’ve got, and just hope that the importance of Digital Humanities can be fully realised in time for the next generation.
Cathy N. Davidson, ‘Why Yack Needs Hack (and Vice Versa): From Digital Humanities to Digital Literacy’, in Between Humanities and the Digital, ed. by Patrik Svensson and David Theo Goldberg (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015), pp. 131–143.