If you build it, they will comePosted: September 7, 2011
If you build it [they] will come. This pop culture phrase from the movie “Field of Dreams” came to mind upon concluding Stephen Ramsey’s article “Who’s in and Who’s out” in which he attempts to define digital humanities. Although his article was not referring to building a baseball field for ghosts, the notion of building something was key to Ramsey’s definition of digital humanities. He states that “Digital Humanities is about building things” and “if you are not making anything, you are not….a digital humanist.” These very strong statements convey that in his eyes, the essence of Digital Humanities is to build something, create and even theorize so that others can make something new. This notion seems to be at the core of what digital humanities is, a new field that seeks to create and advance the field and in doing so, also lead to the creation and building of work and scholarship in other fields.
Going back to the connection I made to “Field of Dreams,” it does seem that in this case the statement “if you build it, [they] will come” is also applicable. If these digital humanist build a new technology and device to analyze literature, or build a course familiarizing students with the concepts of digital humanities, more people are being attracted to the field, and thus adding to the digital humanities “team.” In considering our own class, we too are building something. We are building a collaborative space, a new learning environment, and a new course. More specifically, we are building this very blog, we will be building other projects throughout the year, such as mapping a character’s movement in a novel and analyzing other digital humanities projects. So based on this idea, are we then considered to be digital humanists? Or digital humanists in training? As the architects of our own experience with digital humanities, it will be interesting to see what we end up building in this course together.