I want to start by saying that I dipped my toe into the realm of digital humanities while writing my last paper for this class. Prof. Ferguson directed me towards the tremendous literary resource called ‘Project Guttenburg.’ It was very very helpful to be able to keyword search certain words or phrases that I wanted to locate for my paper. I even took it a step further and looked up all the instances of a particular word in order to compare the usage throughout the novel. Again, this was very helpful and allowed me to write a paper that would have otherwise been impossible (under the given time constraints).
My worry here is that humans tend to take any sort of progress to its logical extreme. Everybody loves the digital, complex, and computerized, and I can see people getting too excited by the idea of digital humanities. It can easily go from “that was a helpful and interesting way to improve my paper” to a completely detached study of writing. I do not want the highest attainment in the field to be a job as a data analyst. Technology can be easily taken too far, and I hope that, at least in this particular field, there is enough critical thinking ability to decide where, when, and how to use this assistive technology wisely and effectively.
When I make relations between concepts I like to stick to what I know, so I will compare this to driving. When GPS technology became available to comerical drivers you can imagine that they were happy to have turn by turn reminders and a constant awareness of where they are should they get lost. Setting aside the horror stories of drivers following their GPS into lakes and bridges (this is not an exaggeration), we can see the logical extreme of GPS navigation fast approaching. Within a single decade we have seen the GPS navigation go from an assistive technology for professional drivers to a viable threat to their careers and livihood. Fully autonomous cars and trucks are being built and tested, and semi autonomous convoys have already completed runs. It is important that the digital humanities remains an assistive technology and does not run rampant throught the field. All areas of our lives are becoming more and more automated and technology dependent. We need to make sure we keep the ‘human’ in ‘humanities.’