Defining DH

I think we are all digital humanists in this era. It is the “digital age” after all. Today I left my phone on the bus. A Friday night… Which means that if it was (fingers crossed) rescued and moved to lost and found, I still won’t be able to see it until Monday. Losing it, and on the day of dh nonetheless, has made me realize how much I rely on that tiny computer. Practically everything is planned last-minute these days because of our cellphones. We talk to so many people at once, all about different things, and without having to see them in person. Craziness. I still have my laptop, but my phone contained all of my modes of communication. I have been learning Korean on there. I have apps for studying (like flashcards, etc.) and apps for communicating and language exchange. If you’re learning a language, check out Hellotalk. I have made so many new friends on there and learned a lot.

So, in light of losing my phone, the digital humanities is about communicating, sharing, and building through computers and other forms of technology. From the simplest act of sending your friends snapchats throughout the day, you are being a digital humanist (of sorts haha).

The last class of an English undergraduate

Writing, in itself, is a coding process.

Today marks the last class of my bachelor’s undergraduate degree. Four years. Naturally, I missed out on much of today’s proceedings… And to be honest, there isn’t much to be said about my day in the realm of digital humanities. But I would like to reflect on my now nearly complete four years of university by saying a few things about what I have learned about the digital humanities and in particular, coding.

My writing process had been strictly pumping out words onto a paper, or typing frantically away on my laptop until I met Constance Crompton in January last year (google her). She was teaching a digital humanities course in which we had to learn  some HTML, CSS, and javascript to code our own choose-your-own-adventure story. Through the process of learning coding and building a story that was able to be manipulated by the reader, I learned that I really loved to code.

HTML is such a fun and simple language and I loved being able to manipulate it further with javascript and CSS. It was nice to see my text at it’s bare bones and be able to manipulate it directly instead of by clicking buttons. It made it more like a puzzle or a game. Furthermore, I was stunned by the vast number of available resources. If you want to be able to do something with your code, it’s almost guaranteed that someone else has already figured it out and posted about it online. I love the whole sharing attitude of the digital humanities community. Even just the fact that you can learn to code for free on CodeAcademy is awesome.

A very valuable thing that I learned from my interactions with coding was the process and importance of troubleshooting. I had to search endlessly and try different things over and over again until my eyes felt like they would fall out of my head if I stared at a computer screen any longer. One of the best things is how much you learn (though you don’t use a vast majority of that gained knowledge for the project you are searching for, usually, I found) and how much of that knowledge can be stored away for use on later projects.

This past term, we were big on using XML and in particular, TEI. I must say, it wasn’t as exciting for me as coding my own story, but I did enjoy the coding process. We were annotating a digital copy of Jane Eyre (which can be found here, best viewed in Firefox). I annotated Chapter 27 and did the coding and editing for the timeline on that project. For my chapter I mostly defined words that I thought warranted defining. Ultimately I would have liked to have annotated and defined a lot more words, but we were under a time constraint, so I pumped out as many definitions as I could. I really enjoyed that researching process because, being an English student, it was fascinating to look at words that we never use today. So many words have fallen out of use, and at such a cost! Victorians were oh so dramatic. I love being dramatic (sidenote: one of the main reasons I began studying Korean a few months ago. They have such dramatic expressions and sounds. I’m having a blast), so I felt a true connection to the over-the-top quality of their word use.

This is a bit run-on and tangent-like, but I feel that adequately captures the nature of my day today. It has been a day of reflecting and realizing how quickly time flies. Only a few more assignments to finish up and turn in and then I am done with this bachelor’s degree. Holy potatoes. I also left my phone on the bus… and I’m hoping it will be in lost and found; unfortunately, the lost and found place isn’t open until Monday (leave it to me to lose my phone on a Friday evening when the office is closed). I am feeling very incomplete without my little mini-computer.

I think I will end this here, before the day ends and before my brain diverges into a mess of poetic nonsense.

너~무 피곤해요~~ 그렇지만 지금 공부해야해요. 내 친구, 잘자요.