Tension Within Digital Humanities

In “The Productive Unease of 21st Century Digital Scholarship”, Flanders addresses the contributions technology has had on the study of humanities as research and scholarly tools.   Technology’s effect on all of academia is indisputable and is continuing to grow.  Flanders also states how technology inherently has a sense of progress and need for continuous development.   I found this point to be particularly interesting because I tried to apply this to the concept of digital humanities.  Humanities in the purest, most romantic form is organic and doesn’t require anything but man’s mental and emotional capacities, which is opposite to the need for technology.  Therefore, when Flanders presented the ways people are uneasy with the idea of digital technology, I had to agree with each of the concerns.

To most college students, the medium of digital scholarship isn’t a new or jarring idea because they are taught to utilize technology in learning.  Of course, technology allows us to access unlimited amounts of scholarly works, but technology cannot teach us how to better analyze those works for ourselves.  Technology can never replace man’s creation of art or the man’s unique way of understanding it through emotional and artistic capacities.

This article helped me to somewhat reconcile the tension I found within the term “Digital Humanities” because it helped me to see technology as a medium to make human’s art and analysis of the arts more accessible.  What I have yet to learn is if technology can really help us to see humanities in a unique way or if it can help us to better understand it.  Therefore, can technology offer us anything beyond access to a large quantity of information? Can it give us a deeper insight?

The article also revealed to me that digital humanities is still a very new, uneasy topic because we must constantly maintain the fine balance between human and digital contributions.  I think Flanders phrased it best when she states, “In effect, digital scholarship embodies an unresolved conflict about scale, human effort, and the nature of digital work”.  Hopefully, a better understanding of the field of digital humanities will allow us to use the best resources that technology has to offer while not sacrificing the integrity of the study of humanities.