Q&A

What is the goal of Tools for Digital Scholarship?

Our goal is the immediate practical empowerment of your scholarly research. To that end, we focus on a small number of tools and techniques that meet two criteria. 1) They are simple and can be used without any specialized training and 2) they are useful and can be used broadly across the field.

If you aren’t familiar with these tools and techniques you will be surprised by how easy and powerful they are. We hope working with them will show you the possibilities of digital scholarship, and inspire you to explore tools and techniques beyond this site.

Why should I consider digital tools for my scholarship?

You are using them anyway. When you check out books from the library, download a pdf, or even read a physical book, there is a digital infrastructure in the background that made it possible. There are simply a lot more easy-to-use tools around than we often realize that you can use to make discoveries, and develop additional questions and insights. We’d like to introduce you to some.

Why do we need another website on digital scholarship/digital humanities?

There are quite a few resources available, along with many mailing lists (for example, if you are in the Boston area sign up for the Boston DH mailing list).

But there aren’t that many sites that take the special affordances of working with materials from East Asia into account, and also not that many that introduce the most accessible tools (even non-East Asia related ones) in very brief, digestible format. So we thought we would try to show how much you can learn in just a few minutes.

Why does this site call it “digital scholarship,” instead of “digital humanities”? Aren’t the tools introduced here digital humanities as well?

Digital humanities (or: DH) is a term that started circulating in the late 1990s and early 2000s via scholars such as Johanna Drucker and Alan Liu. It became a buzz term and did much to galvanize interest around using new digital tools for research in the humanities. For some, it promised a complete revolution in thinking in the humanities or in pedagogy. For others, it was a flashy term to attract funding from university administrations, and at worst a way to undermine the humanities.

After DH became a more established presence at higher education institutions reflection set in, prompting some to ask if DH was emphasizing trendy tech over critical theory or to ask “Why are the Digital Humanities so White?

By now, digital technology is so deeply a part of everyday scholarship in the humanities that the delineation of DH as a separate way of doing things is maybe not necessary. We simply want to introduce simple tools for enhancing one’s scholarship and to show glimpses of ways of doing things that are readily available but that not everyone is aware of.

Some of the terms that pop up in the modules aren’t really clear to me…

Check out the glossaries our additional resources links to!

Which fields or disciplines are these tools for?

They are for anyone who works with texts and/ or images. Some of the tools and resources introduced here are especially useful for those working with texts in East Asian languages.

On the whole, there are many more tools available for working with language texts than there are for analyzing still or moving images. That is reflected here as well (we do feature a number of resources for working with images in presentations). But more is available every day, so stay posted!

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