‘A Definition of Digital Humanities’

Trying to define exactly what Digital Humanities (DH) is and what Digital Humanities is not has long been a topic contention among those working in the Digital Humanities field. Some have suggested that a definition based not on what Digital Humanities is, but what Digital Humanists are doing might be more appropriate. As many will recognize, the field of Digital Humanities is growing and evolving every day which makes it even harder to pin down an exact definition.

To me, digital humanities is an innovative and multidisciplinary field where humanists (people who study and interpret the human condition) have accepted digital media for the important role it can play in the interpretation, understanding, preservation, organization and presentation of the human condition. The field encompasses a broad spectrum of approaches and tasks (from data mining to geospatial analysis) and ties together the interests of humanities research and the technological frontier. While Digital Humanities can use technology as tools for furthering traditional humanities tasks, it can also use those tools to provide unique insights into these tasks. Work in the Digital Humanities is largely collaborative and project based. The field deals with data that is textual, graphical and audial in nature. As technology is always changing, it continues to be an emerging field of study with groundbreaking connections between humanities and the digital world.

I choose to define Digital Humanities in this way, because it answers all of the basic questions that we were asked to consider in examining various definitions of Digital Humanities. This definition tells who is involved, what technologies are used, what the relationship between DH and technology is, what activities DH has an impact on, what form of activity DH is, and how DH work is done. It also presents the large scope of what the field of Digital Humanities covers while trying to highlight some of the unique aspects of the discipline.

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