The Wonderful World of Wikipedia

Last time I posted Elizabeth Dillon came to our university to discuss the Early Caribbean Digital Archive of which she is a co-creator. It was very enlightening to listen to her talk about creating the archive and the different plans she and her partners have for the archive in the future. It made me realize how time consuming and meticulous it is to create such a thing as an archive. New parts of the archive can only go public after much work and deliberation. While I never assumed that as soon as the idea for the archive was born the archive itself–POOF!–appeared online, it was still interesting to hear Professor Dillon’s talk. I truly respect all of the hard work that goes into creating an archive like the Early Caribbean Digital Archive. To tie it back to my final project, archives are also a type of “unfinished text”–its content and its online platform need constant revising and reworking so the user receives the best result possible.

But that’s not the only reason I’m posting tonight. I’d like to share with you some of what I’ve learned about what I call “The Wonderful World of Wikipedia” and how Wikipedia can be and is used in a university “classroom.” (I’m putting “classroom” in quotation marks because I’m not sure if it is useful to call what I’m talking about–and what digital humanities scholars are talking about–a classroom. A classroom implies a hierarchy between the teacher and the student as well as a “traditional” way of learning. In other words, the students learn and the teachers teach; there is somewhat of a divide between them. This way of learning is also grade centered–students complete work for a specific purpose: a grade. Sometimes the grade is the only result of their work. That is to say, sometimes the grade is what the students “get” out of their assignments. But I digress…)

This week, for class, we were asked to take a look at the digital book, Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Practices, Principles and Politics, and choose a chapter in the book to blog about (which is what I’m doing now 🙂 ).  However, before I begin I’d like to give a short preface. This week in class we’ll be discussing Digital Humanities Pedagogy and what that means for the future of higher education (and possibly education in general). In preparation for our class discussion we were asked to read a couple of works other than Digital Humanities Pedagogy. These works are: Cathy N. Davidson’s and David Theo Goldberg’s “Ten Principles for the Future of Learning” and Hybrid Pedagogy’s (Jesse Stommel’s and Sean Michael Morris’s) “A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age.” Both works imply that the digital world is creating a new way of learning that is affecting students and teachers. Because our way of learning is changing, our “classrooms” have to change as well. These works outline the principles of the Digital Humanities “classroom,” of learning in the digital age. Learning should (and is starting to) happen “horizontally” (the teachers can teach and learn; the students can learn and teach). Learning also happens collaborative; learning becomes about the process rather than the result of the learning.  In the last chapter in Digital Humanities Pedagogy, “Wikipedia, Collaboration, and the Politics of Free Knowledge,” Melanie Kill posits Wikipedia as an important part of the digital age and one that can and should be used in the new “classroom” for a wide range of learning.

In “Wikipedia, Collaboration, and the Politics of Knowledge,” Melanie Kill attempts to deconstruct Wikipedia, what it is and what it entails, and how it can be used in the classroom. First and foremost, she states that Wikipedia “provides students with a range of opportunities to work as intermediaries between the disciplinary expertise they are studying, a public system of knowledge curation, and a global audience of readers” (Kill 389).  Wikipedia offers allows students to learn and participate in knowledge creation. No longer are students writing essays and papers that only a few eyes can see, but with Wikipedia, students write for multiple sets of eyes, for a global audience. They can have the opportunity to add to public knowledge. As Kill states, students move beyond working for grades to working to create social knowledge and action. The digital age, and websites like Wikipedia, open students up to a vast learning community. When they learn and share knowledge, they contribute not only to theirs and their classmates’ knowledge, but they contribute to strangers’s knowledge, too.

Wikipedia also involves an important aspect of the Digital Humanities and one that has popped up again and again in our class discussions this semester: collaboration. Kill states that collaboration is not only an essential part of being a student, but it is also becoming an essential part of being a “citizen” (Kill 390). As the “real world” is becoming more and more collaborative, students are constantly being asked to be so as well. Participating in Wikipedia in the “classroom” can prepare students for life beyond academia.

Kill also discusses Wikipedia as a new type of genre, an innovative encyclopedia of sorts. It is innovative because it is a collaborative creation. It allows its users to find information and discover the conversations between the editors of the webpage that happen “behind the scenes.”  We are all aware that we can press the “Talk Tab” on any given page which will allow us to discuss the page’s content with other users. We can also “edit” the page and view the page’s history, seeing its various edits and revisions. Kill makes an important point that correlates to the various tasks we can do on Wikipedia. A student can use Wikipedia to simply edit typos and grammar, or can edit pages, adding and revising information for others to see. Inevitably, another user will then edit our edits because that is the nature of Wikipedia. By nature, it’s open to adaptation and free use. That’s what we love about Wikipedia. But that’s also what makes it controversial.

I like Kill’s essay because it does not ignore the controversy around Wikipedia–she knows that people see Wikipedia as “too open” to revision. If anyone can edit, how can we know its information is correct? If there are no established rules to Wikipedia, how can we trust its credibility. Most importantly, why should we teach it to our students? Another way we can phrase that question is, what can it offer to our students?

Asking a student to participate in Wikipedia is not without challenges and Kill gives us some suggestions that will hopefully erase those difficulties. They are:

  • Situated Practice
  • Overt Instruction
  • Critical Framing
  • Transformed Practice

I think what’s most important about Kill’s essay is that it suggests (or rather, it tells us) that Wikipedia can and should be used for learning. It participates in collaboration, open access, and teaching and learning for all. Towards the conclusion of her essay she indicates that students may use Wikipedia to look up information, but it is rare they understand how to use it and how they can add to it. It is up to teachers to show them. Once shown and if led properly, students will learn to share in the creation and distribution of knowledge. With Wikipedia, students can gain a voice and give others a voice as well.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll go add to Wikipedia now.

Distracted in the Digital Age

As I was doing research for my paper on the unfinished text, I came across an article written by Jesse Stommel called “The Digital Humanities is About Breaking Stuff.” In it, Stommel talks about how the Digital Humanities “breaks” apart literature, so to speak. To support his claim, he cites examples from a Digital Humanities class he taught. One of the assignments he gave the class was to “break apart” Emily Dickinson poem “There’s a Certain Slant of Light.” In order to break apart the poem, his students created word maps, word drawings, and the like. The purpose of the assignment was to force students to look at literature in a different way. The result of the assignment was to open students’ eyes to the different ways of interpreting a text through the tools that technology gives us.

His idea that computers and technology change the way we read and interact with literature is a significant part of claiming that the Digital Humanities is about breaking stuff. Stommel states that when we read a digital text we often become distracted by other stimuli. Because we might be reading a digital text on a smart phone, an ebook, a tablet, a laptop, or otherwise, we are invited to do more than just read the digital text. A reader can switch between his digital text and YouTube, or Facebook, or email, or a news outlet. Now, when we read, we are not simply reading the text at hand. We are reading the digital text and more. The “more” influences our interaction with the digital text. In essence, the age of technology has allowed us to multitask; it embraces distraction.

“The Digital Humanities is About Breaking Stuff” is a digital text and fittingly so, it is multi-modal and gives its user access to links such as websites and videos that exist outside the article. In his discussion on multitasking and reading digital texts, Stommel links his argument to a YouTube video, a brief talk given by Cathy Davidson from Duke University about her book Now You See It. In it, she discusses the way in which this new great shift in learning–technology and the internet–is forcing us to multitask. She states that we often multitask and we don’t even know we’re doing it. She quite literally tells us to calm down. There is nothing wrong with our digital age, nothing wrong with multitasking. In fact, she states that when we find ourselves mutlitasking or becoming distracted when using technology, we should ponder on that distraction. She views distraction in our digital age as helpful. Technology is reshaping the ways in which we think and the ways in which we learn. Instead of being afraid of distraction, we need to embrace distraction and understand how it can be useful in learning.

Here is Cathy Davidson’s short video “Shifting Attention” :

As for my opinion, I’m not sure how I feel about our “shifting attention” and technology’s influence on it. I’m finding it hard to understand how multitasking can be productive rather than confusing or overwhelming. I’ve always been taught to “do one thing at a time.” However, I’ll follow Cathy Davidson’s advice and pay attention to the times I’m multitasking and when that multitasking is helpful. I encourage you to do the same.

A Video Worth a Look

I had to watch this video for class and I couldn’t help but share it with you all!

There are quite a few things that I love and find interesting about this video. The main one being that it uses clips from Disney movies (Disney is one of the strictest enforcers of copyright) in order to define and talk about copyright and fair use. It’s ironic, funny, and extremely enlightening. The video could be a perfect aid to a lesson about copyright. I can see it’s usefulness in a graduate, undergraduate, or even high school classroom. From scrolling through some of the comments on YouTube, it seems that it has been used for such purposes. The video itself is also a great example of the ways in which someone could use technology and the internet to express themselves, record, make, or share knowledge, and start a conversation about learning.

That being said, do you agree with what the video is saying about copyright?  What are your thoughts on copyright and fair use? I’d love to hear them!

Discussing “Challenging Gaps: Collaboration in the Digital Humanities”

In keeping with the collaboration theme in my last few posts, I decided to share with you an overview of my class discussion for Amy E. Earhart’s “Challenging Gaps: Redesigning Collaboration in the Digital Humanities.” There are three important points in her essay that I found most interesting and plan on sharing with the class. They are as follows: collaboration as a science laboratory, challenges which collaborative work presents to the humanist, and graduate student participation in collaboration.

1.  After expressing the important difference between interdisciplinarity and collaboration, Earhart states a way collaboration can be seen in the digital humanities: like a science laboratory. Collaboration in the digital humanities is analogous to a science lab because both work in similar ways. For example, according to Cathy Davidson, labs are “built around the process of discovery” (31). In other words, the purpose of a lab is to experiment, test, and discover the new. However, at the same time, labs are also a place which research is shared across generations and various fields and disciplines (31). Therefore, labs are places which past knowledge is used and embraced and new knowledge is sought after. Most importantly, in the lab, “no solitary thinker—no matter how brilliant or creative—could think through a complex problem as comprehensively as a group of thinkers from different fields…areas of expertise…intellectual generations” (31). Like a lab, multiple participants/authors/contributors are necessary in digital humanities project collaborations. The knowledge that the participants have is vast; they often come from different fields, experiences, training, and educations. Therefore, each participant has something unique to offer the project. Because the participants have something unique to offer, they are able to contribute more to the project than an individual, on his or her own, would.

However, Earhart uses the analogy of the lab loosely, claiming that the science lab contains hierarchies. (Hierarchies are not welcome in collaborations; if there are hierarchies then collaboration would not exist because collaborators are equal players.) First, there is a division between “technical and intellectual labor” (31). In other words, intellectual and technological labors are not equal players in a scientist’s lab. However, in a digital humanist’s lab they must be equal because both are equally important contributors to the project. She also claims that the science lab has a history of excluding women and minorities from their research, which also indicates an unequal players.

Notably, she uses the Walt Whitman Archive as an example for the digital humanist’s lab, claiming that the archive is treated “as a laboratory” that “generates collaborative scholarship” and “trains future scholars” (31). In other words, she views the archive like a lab because the website’s contributors collaborate to create new scholarship at the same time their archive influences future Walt Whitman (and digital humanist) scholars. I find her discussion on the laboratory to be an interesting one because it uses an essential element of the sciences and attaches it to the digital humanities. In essence, it bridges the gap between the two fields, suggesting that the digital humanities lab is a technological one.

2. Another aspect of Earhart’s essay that I found enlightening is her discussion of the challenges which collaboration presents to the humanities, specifically the way humanists approach scholarship. Humanists generally work alone. When they are finished working, they present their finished product, not the process of achieving that product. Therefore, collaborations or “project partnerships” “run into problems that boil down to differing opinions of the position of the product or process to the project outcome” (34). For example, when humanists and technologists work together, their goals can clash. Earhart states that the humanist often “focus[es] on [her] immediate goals” (34) or results.  The technologist focuses on the “application” (34). Earhart states that collaboration in the digital humanities is not necessarily about the finished product. Instead, the humanist should take a point or two from the technologist. The process of getting to the “final” project (if the project could ever be considered final) is “key to the discipline of digital humanities” (34). Failure is fine in the digital humanities. Failure can “produce more interesting results” or produce information that is interesting to publish (34). Thus the humanist, when working in collaborative digital projects, should value experimentation.

I find this discussion on the challenges for the humanist interesting because it implies that the humanist is somewhat of a perfectionist. The humanist conducts research to complete a specific end. The humanist values the end goal, the result. Collaboration in the digital humanities values the result, as well as the cause, the process. The humanist needs to be more like the technologist and accept failure. Failure is a possibility in the digital humanities; one can learn from failure. I like the idea that failure is useful.

3. Finally, I am interested in the way in which graduate students can use collaboration in their own education and research. Earhart claims that graduate students are “the future of digital humanities” (40) and because of that they should understand and participate in collaborative projects. Earhart returns to the idea of collaboration as a laboratory, claiming that it is helpful to think of the graduate student and digital humanities in that context. The digital humanities laboratory gives the student room to decide how she wants to involve herself in a project. It also gives the student the power to decide create her own “piece” of that project (40). In other words, the lab not only teaches a student how to participate in a project but allows her to decide how she wants to participate in that project. Importantly, the laboratory model creates a different relationship between faculty members and students. In a collaborative project, the parties are interdependent; they share scholarship and exchange ideas (40). In essence, they teach and learn from each other. This kind of laboratory and relationship can only occur if there is a collaborative environment in education.

I am interested in this idea because it relates collaboration and the digital humanities back to us—graduate students. It gives us a hint—but only that—of what collaboration could look like in higher education.

 My questions regarding this reading are:

  1. Last week we discussed the setbacks of the Walt Whitman Archive, specifically the colorless website, the difficulty maneuvering through and finding information, and its similarity to a printed book. Considering this, do you agree that the Walt Whitman Archive is an example of a digital humanist’s lab which generates “collaborative scholarship” and trains “future scholars” (31)? Can the Walt Whitman Archive be an example of a laboratory when it is difficult to maneuver and is more like a printed text then a digital one?
  2. At the conclusion of her essay, Earhart states that the end goal of the digital humanities should be to create “a discipline where digital is represented within the term humanities” (41). What does her goal imply? Can we imagine what that kind of new system can look like? Would there be any similarities to the system in place or would that be completely erased?

Earhart on Voyant

This week’s “weekly create” is to play around with a tool of our choice. Since I wasn’t too thrilled about Docuburst (see Docuburst is Bursting with Information?) I decided to play around with a tool that is much more comprehensible and helpful.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to Voyant!

Voyant is a tool that allows you to copy and paste text or upload a document. Voyant takes the text you give it and creates a word cloud from it. The word cloud contains the words that are repeated most throughout the text. The larger the word, the more often the word appears in the text.

I have to be honest though. This wasn’t my first time using Voyant. I’ve looked at Voyant before and created one or two word clouds to test it out and see how it worked. However, it was my first time using Voyant for academic purposes and that is what I want to talk to you about.

Allow me to explain…

For class this week I am leading a discussion of Amy E. Earhart’s “Challenging Gaps: Redesigning Collaboration in the Digital Humanities” (see Collaborating in the Humanities to Create the Digital Humanities). I used Voyant to help me understand Earhart’s main points and to help me plan my discussion. Here is the word cloud Voyant gave me:

Earhart on Voyant

The first thing I noticed was that to, and, that, of, & in are used the most in her work. While knowing this information has the potential to be helpful, it wasn’t the kind of information I was interested in. If I had time (and the patience) I could have gone through her work and deleted every to, and, that of & in. Doing that would have narrowed my search results to the important words, the words that express her main ideas. Instead, I worked with what I had and looked for the words that were slightly smaller in the word cloud. Those words included humanities, digital, project, work, and collaboration. Since Voyant not only gives the user a word cloud, but a list of how many times a word is used in the work, I was able to see that although collaboration is the main idea of the work, it is only used 38 times whereas the word “humanities” is used 84 times. Interestingly, the word “we” is used 58 times, which suggests the author’s openness to collaboration and teamwork within her own work.

The information Voyant gave me was helpful because it highlighted what I should pay attention to in Earhart’s work. It also provoked questions about Earhart’s work and ideas that helped shape my discussion. In essence, it practiced “distant reading” so I could close read better.

Walt Whitman Archive/ The Walt Whitman “Arsenal”

Kenneth M. Price in his article, “Edition, Project, Database, Archive, Thematic Research Collection: What’s in a Name?” , uses an archive he collaboratively created as an example of how “archives” are much more than what that title or other titles (edition, project, database, archive, thematic research collection, etc.) suggest. His “archive,” the Walt Whitman Archive, encompasses a vast array of Whitman’s material–that which Whitman published in a multitude of mediums as well as Whitman’s manuscripts. As Price states, such a collection is ongoing, it’s not a project with an end, but one that is an ongoing. The process takes many, not just one, contributors which makes the “archive” collaborative. In light of these characteristics of the Walt Whitman Archive–and all “archives” like it–Price suggests uses a different term to describe the collection: an “arsenal.” An arsenal’s emphasis is on the product and the process to get that product. In other words, an arsenal, like the Walt Whitman Archive, is a workshop.

In light of the information in Price’s article I couldn’t help but want to discover and search through the Walt Whitman Archive for this week’s assignment. Here are my thoughts and findings on the archive:

  • Is the purpose of the site/project/archive clearly articulated?

I have never worked with an archive before so upon entering the Walt Whitman Archive I was unsure how to navigate. Luckily, the site is easy to navigate. The title of the site is clearly visible, along with the names of the editors–Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price. (The two editors make this site a collaborative project.) There are various tabs along the left-hand side of the page which indicate the various categories of the site. One has the choice of visiting Whitman’s published works, works written in Whitman’s hand, his life and letters, commentary about Whitman, pictures and sounds of Whitman, other resources, and an “about page.” My only criticism is that this “about” category is placed at the bottom of the list. Ideally, it should be placed at the top so that the scholar, the student, or even a reader of Whitman could learn more about the site and how to navigate it. The reason I suggest this is because that “about” tab has a link to a tour of the site. The tour of the site explains what the user will find in each category and gives examples of the kinds of material that they will find there. This is extremely helpful for a new user to the site as well as a new user to digital archives. This about page also clearly articulates the purpose of the site: to digitize Whitman’s work and writings so the scholar, the student, and the reader may have access to them.

  • Is the site easy to navigate?

Your next question might be, is the site easy to navigate? Is the “tour” necessary to the site or can I figure out the site on my own? My answer would be yes, even without the tour the site is easy to navigate. Each category/tab/section contains information that is relevant to each tab and information that is easily reached. For example, if one clicks on the “Published Works” tab, one will be given options on where to search next. From there, if one chooses to go to “Books, by Whitman” then one will be given more choices. Does the user want to see the Leaves of Grass editions or his other works? Essentially, the site narrows down your search for you, giving you options that are clearly defined for the best search result possible.

  • Who is the primary audience?

The Walt Whitman Archive claims that its use is for the scholar, student and reader. It’s accessibility to students/ teachers and readers is one of its strengths. Because it is accessible to the general reader, the Archive shares the humanities (and the digital humanities) with a much wider audience. The Archive assumes that not only are humanities scholars and students interested in literature, but that the general public is as well.

  • What is being done in this project that cannot be done in print based scholarships?

To answer this question I would like to take a moment to discuss the Leaves of Grass editions that the archive makes available. If I were studying Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and wanted to track the changes in its various editions without using the digital archive, I would have to buy or rent from the library all of the previous editions of the book. If I did that, I would be surrounded by books, flipping through page after page (sounds like tedious work to me!). Instead of doing that, however, I can go to the archive where the editions are all in one place. The archive does the tedious work for me, it gathers the texts together, so all is left for me to do is search through the material and draw my conclusions. The Walt Whitman Archive is also searchable. If you type in a word, the search engine produces a list of links to where that word is used in Whitman’s works. This cannot be done in print based material because print based material is not searchable way that digital material is. If I were to look up a specific word I would have to carefully comb through every page of the material in question. If I were to use the Walt Whitman Archive, the combing is done for me.

  •  How can one use it for one’s research?

An important question remains, how can I use the Walt Whitman Archive? A general reader can use this archive for curiosities sake, or to increase their understanding of Walt Whitman. A scholar or a student can use the archive for the same purposes. Most importantly, they can use it to answer their questions, they can use it for their research. The usefulness of the Walt Whitman Archive is vast. The benefits of the information on the site is vaster. The site allows the user to clearly and easily comb through a vast amount of information that print works do not. The site allows the user to narrow down their research or to answer her questions with more questions. Most importantly, the Walt Whitman Archive allows one access. It allows access to information that might not have been available otherwise. In allowing access, it allows questions (and answers), and contribution to knowledge.

It’s amazing what technology can do for the humanities and digital archiving is one great example among many.

DocuBurst is Bursting with Information?

I used DocuBurst for the first time tonight…and I’m still deciding how I think it went. (As a side note, Docuburst is a free online tool that allows the user to visualize content of their own work or published work. The user can search a specific word in a maximum of two documents in order to discover where the word is used or how often it is used. Docuburst calls this word a “root word” because they search through the document for that word and words like it.) I searched in their already created documents; I compared the use of “monster” in Wuthering Heights to Jekyll and Hyde. Docuburst gave me a wonderful visualization of the word in the texts. The “radial sunburst” diagram, as Docuburst calls it, organizes words based on their meaning (and based on the root word) and is color coded to show how often they are used. The visualization includes character names that are linked to the words on the sunburst diagram. This could be a really great tool for researchers, especially students. It allows the user to go in depth with specific texts in order to find patterns or significant points that must be looked at in closer detail.

That being said, I found Docuburst a bit hard to use and understand. It took me a few tries to figure out whether I could use one of their documents or my own. Once I figured out how to work the search engine, it was easy to manipulate. However, when Docuburst gave me my results I was slightly confused at what I was looking at. I had to go back and read the database’s in order to uncover the meaning behind the diagrams I was given. However, once I figured out what the sunburst diagram and the visualization were supposed to show, I still didn’t fully understand my results It seemed their was so much material on the page my eye couldn’t process it. I was also confused at the color coding because their was no menu to tell me what color meant which.

Maybe you can help me uncover the meaning behind the results. Here are my Docuburst results for you to look at:

http://vialab.science.uoit.ca/docuburst/search.php?doc=906_jekyll_and_hyde&doc2=938_wuthering_heights&root=monster&sense=00&entity=&lemma=0007030monster02#

(One possibility for my confusion at my results could be that my search wasn’t a very good one…)

Nevertheless, I do think that DocuBurst is a wonderful tool and has the potential to be very helpful in the future!

I’ll keep playing around with it and let you know how it goes!

Exploring Google Ngram

Tonight I explored Google Ngram, but it wasn’t the first time I did so. I find Google Ngram to be a very interesting tool, a tool that I could spend quite a bit of time playing with. I find it fascinating to track a word, or words, in lots and lots (and lots!) of books over a specific period of time. This tool is not only great for research and to spark ideas or hypotheses for a student or scholar, but it’s actually a great tool for anyone. (Well, anyone who’s as curious as a cat and is eager to learn!). Depending on the search, the results can open the average person’s eyes to culture and what’s important to our society. Of course, one can’t just search anything. By that I mean that one can’t simply try to find the use of the word “Facebook” in the eighteen hundreds. In order to search something, you need to know a bit about what you are searching. If you know how to use it then it could be very enlightening! It certainly was and continues to be for me! I suggest it!

That being said, here are my Google Ngram results! (You can either click on the link to go directly to the page or check out the picture.)

https://books.google.com/ngrams/interactive_chart?content=Technology%2CDigital%2CDigital+Humanities%2CHumanities%2CInternet&year_start=1950&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2CTechnology%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CDigital%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CDigital%20Humanities%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CHumanities%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CInternet%3B%2Cc0

Google Ngram Viewer

For my Ngram I searched the words Technology, Digital, Digital Humanities, Humanities, and Internet in books from 1950-2000. The word “humanities” is not used very much at all in books while “Digital Humanities” is not at all. Then again, Digital Humanities is a fairly new term. “Digital” doesn’t seem to be used that often, either. However, the use of the word “technology” increased in the 1970s and is now at a steady usage. Not unexpectedly, the word “internet” sharply increased in 1990 with the creation of the World Wide Web.

Interesting, right?!

What’s up, Digital Humanities?

When I think about my relationship with the the Digital Humanities, a few things come to mind. I think about the way in which the internet and technology are not only changing the way we communicate, but the way we teach and the way we learn, too. I think about the vast knowledge I have access to because of the internet and technology. Mostly though, I think about the ways in which technology and the internet, the humanities, and digital humanities have been present in my education. In other words, the Digital Humanities makes me rethink my approach to literary studies in the past–as a grammar, high school, college, and graduate student–and in the future–as a graduate, a career person, and a human.

As an elementary school student, my classmates and I were encouraged to draw, illustrate, express our knowledge through pictures, through the visual. When it came to learning colors, shapes, numbers, and letters, the visual was the best way for us to learn. When I was learning the alphabet, for homework, my teacher would ask us to go home and find pictures in magazines and newspapers that were of objects that begin with the letter “A.” The next day she would ask us to find pictures of objects that begin the the letter “B,” the next day “C,” and so on. My notebook was filled with letters and their appropriate pictures. It was a fun exercise. It allowed me to learn visually. Looking back on it now, I see this past experience as setting the stage for the rest of my education. It shows me that learning is not just about writing, that one can learn through so many other ways. I see now that one has to learn through writing and other ways–visually, through audio, etc. It’s a necessity. It was a necessity when I was learning the alphabet in kindergarten because really, how can you learn the alphabet through writing when you don’t know how to write, nonetheless read?

Learning the humanities is like this now. The Digitial Humanities accepts and embraces that traditional learning like essay writing are not always the best method to teach and to learn. (Except now, instead of looking in a paper magazine or newspaper, we find pictures on the internet or we create pictures of our own through the technology we have at our fingertips.) Yes, an essay is a truly wonderful tool and knowing how to write an essay is a great skill, but it’s not the only skill. The Digital Humanities is opening up the door for us, it’s showing us a boat-load of other skills that we could stand to learn, skills that we will keep with us for as long as the internet and technology are alive–and I don’t expect them to go anywhere anytime soon. In my career as a college student, I created three webpages, one blog, and countless research papers. Both the traditional (writing papers) and the modern (creating content management systems) way of learning contributed to my learning experience as a college student. Both were necessary, the modern way even more so. The Digital Humanities has given birth to the “modern way” (modern for now) of learning. It’s given birth to collaboration, crowd sourcing, open access, design, participatory learning, and so much more. It’s given us a great opportunity to learn and to teach, to “make our own pictures.” How can we not take it?

This time last year I can honestly say that I didn’t know what the Digital Humanities were. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t know there was a term: “Digital Humanities.” Being in my second class on the Digital Humanities in less than a year, I can confidently say that I know much more about the Digital Humanities than I had previously. Does that mean that I know everything about it? Does that mean I am an expert? No and of course not. I know that the Digital Humanities is and will play an important role in keeping the humanities alive. I also know that the Digital Humanities will change teaching and learning forever. I think the best part about the Digital Humanities is that it is not limited to the classroom. With the Digital Humanities, the world (and the world wide web) is the classroom and we’re all the students and the teachers.  I am only just beginning to know the Digital Humanities in a way that can benefit me and my future. My adventure with the Digital Humanities is ongoing. If you’re reading this, I’m glad you can join me for the ride.

So finally I say, “What’s up, Digital Humanities? Where should we begin?”