Blog Entry & Assignment No.1: DH and you. How does DH challenge, support, rethink, expand your appro
I had first contact with the term of Digital Humanities in the beginning of my studies of Linguistics and Literary Computing at TU Darmstadt. Before that I never really thought about a term that could describe the digital editions of books, the digitalized manuscripts in old archives or other computational tools and aids that simplified the work with the amount of texts in my literary studies. In the course of my studies in Darmstadt I got to know many new approaches to handle literary texts and especially how to deal with fairly large quantities of literature. During my year abroad in Norway, I encountered the issue to find suitable literature for writing my term papers. I was not in a position to choose which topic I wanted to write about. For the grade to be allowed for my degree in Germany, I had to write about a topic the library in Norway had absolutely no relevant literature on. The possibilities to scan texts, upload them and send them via E- Mail around the globe in just a few minutes saved the completion of my term paper. An old sonnet I needed for my analysis, that was more than a hundred years old and hence nearly impossible to get hands on directly had been digitalized and could so be provided for the general public, allowing myself to conduct a study about traditional and modern sonnets. With help of electronic tools, completely new possibilities to conduct studies presented themselves. Large quantities of text can be uploaded into a program and afterwards analyzed with a focus on the frequency with which certain words appear in a corpus, the allocation and textual context of words, grammatical peculiarities which can be found or the systematic comparison of the texts of the corpus in general. Being able to translate data from a language I never learned to one I understood in just a short space of time was another benefit technology facilitated, even if the translations sometimes just sufficed to get a rough idea about what the text dealt with. As I publish this text in my blog, everybody who is interested will immediately be able to read it and to comment and give feedback on it. Although I would not want that with every text I ever wrote, I can control which work I want to be read by the community and have the possibility to get valuable feedback on it before handing it in for correction, making sure that the work can be understood by outsiders and hence also correctors. It is nevertheless important to be aware of the downsides the digital world opens, for instance the possibility of unnoticed theft of intellectual property through websites everybody can visit. Keeping this in mind, though, should remind everybody to be careful with where they publish their data and which public they make it visible for. The advantages Digital Humanities present, are for me reason enough to say that I would not want to miss the opportunity to read ancient texts online or process large quantities of data, even if the programs that help me with doing so sometimes do not yet work perfectly and the technologies do have their disadvantages as well. For me personally, Digital Humanities clearly made it easier to conduct properly researched studies on literature.