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Debunking the STEM vs. humanities debate

Digital humanities combines computing with style—but there are mixed feelings

digital-humanities-scienceDid you know that almost all of the academic resources that you access online have been thoughtfully, and skillfully, presented by skilled computer technologists? And did you know that those computational experts are also in the humanities?

Users may take the ease with which they access digital archives and online projects for granted without thinking about the work that goes into creating such websites. What starts out as physical documents stacked upon a desk ultimately become the images or PDFs that people search for online after being scanned, organized, and attached with metadata by dedicated digital humanists.

Digital humanists do much of the behind-the-scenes work — such as developing resources, working on mapping or archival projects, and dating mining — that allows the public to peruse research and archives online.

The field of digital humanities relates to work that is at the “intersection of computational technology and humanities content,” said Johanna Drucker, a professor at UCLA and co-author of the book Digital_Humanities.

The human cultural record is slowly transitioning to an online platform. The task is “hugely time consuming and it takes skill, knowledge and coordination amongst institutional players,” Drucker said.

(Next page: Explaining the controversy)

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