We speak with each other primarily through scholarly channels—which is essential to our work—but that creates a void in public discourse about what we do. How can we justify putting money into seemingly impractical fields when college costs more than an average house?
From my perspective, as part of a generation that went through graduate school in the 1990s, the “DH” field is a response to a feeling of disenfranchisement and alienation from traditional academic culture in the context of a radically changed system of employment.Digital humanities cultivates scholarly collaboration as well as individual exploration, technological innovation alongside methodological rigor. It redefines the nature of academic careers while dealing with longstanding disciplinary conversations. And it engages in complex, theoretical heavy lifting while building projects that are often based on the Internet, available to the public, and indisputably useful. (Consider the various projects of the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, and Hamilton College’s Digital Humanities Initiative.)
Interesting, not just for the article, but for the comments debate. How is DH related to the humanities, and not just to all academics? Precisely because it is new to humanities scholars (the issue of defining new media all over again).
Micah Vandegrift [http://micahvandegrift.wordpress.com/) wrote in the comments:
“Now I’d like to turn to the larger problems facing the field, such as the reality that most people don’t know all that much about it…We speak with each other primarily through scholarly channels—which is essential to our work—but that creates a void in public discourse about what we do.´
I think this is exactly the point of the “digital” aspect of digital humanities. The scholarly channels are now exactly public, and engaged with in the public sphere, through the nature of digital technologies. As Sandy Thatcher mentions below, the correlation between digital and openness, in this case opening up scholarship to a public audience, is a key component that delineates traditional humanities from digital humanities.”