Hi, all! I’m Katie Kaczmarek, and I “fell into” digital humanities when I was searching for a category to define my interests when applying to doctoral programs. During my five years as a high school English teacher, I had to take classes on using technology in the classroom, where I came across this article by Marc Prensky which describes that the current generation of students growing up with technology literally have a different process of reading than those of us who grew up before it was omnipresent. So I’m interested in investigating what features of online/hypertext literature or interactive media Young Adult print authors are using to appeal to those types of readers. The more I learn about Digital Humanities, the more excited I am to become a part of it, because like Charity, I want my work to have some practical use to the colleagues I left behind.
After looking at all the readings, the digital humanities field seems to be suffering from the tension between wanting to be expansive and inclusive (Building doesn’t mean just coding! Collaboration is key!) and from wanting to have clear and specific boundaries (You’re not a digital humanist just because you have a blog! How is this different from what you could have done in print?). Golumbia points out that even the Digital_Humanities book uses both the narrow definition of digital humanities as “tool-and-archives” and the “big tent” definition without distinction, though it leans towards the narrower definition. I’m wondering how much of this need to draw boundaries and create a specific definition is born from a desire to legitimate the field within academia. Universities already struggling to figure out how to assess digital humanities project-work no doubt appreciate the guidelines suggested in the “Short Guide to Digital Humanities”. But the ability for people with so many diverse interests to participate in the field is part of what gives it vitality, and as Bianco notes, when you start reducing heterogeneity to create standards, you start to limit diversity, and lose potential ideas and results.
One of the other unique features of digital humanities that I find exciting and refreshing for the academic world is the fact that in the project-based world of DH, 1) failure is to be expected and 2) projects are encouraged not only to build off of previous work, but to be continued. The fact that failure is an acceptable step in the process makes DH a much less intimidating field to step into, especially for a recovering perfectionist like me. I also like the encouragement to collaborate with others and take their work farther, and the fact that your work can have even more of a lasting impact.