Type A: First Me, Then ChatGPT

My Post:

When I first started taking digital humanities classes, I was bombarded by people who were curious as to what the digital humanities were. I didn’t have a good answer. I would give examples of what I did in my classes: “We worked with corpora and a bit of coding” or “I designed the layout of a book using InDesign.” It gives me comfort that even people who study digital humanities have a hard time reaching an agreement when coming up with a definition.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick shared her definition of digital humanities on the blog Chronicle of Higher Education’s ProfHacker as “a nexus of fields within which scholars use computing technologies to investigate the kinds of questions that are traditional to the humanities, or, as is more true of my own work, ask traditional kinds of humanities-oriented questions about computing technologies.”

That’s what I feel that the digital humanities are; a nexus. To me, the digital humanities are more than just studying the humanities with digital tools. Yes, that’s part of what we do; we enhance our research and experiences in the humanities with the tools and technology available to us in the digital age. I don’t think there’s a single definition for what the digital humanities are. In fact, I think that giving them a lone definition would confine and limit us in what we do with the digital humanities. I think instead of trying to diminish our opportunities with what we can do by defining this field, we should experiment (and screw around) with what can be done.

ChatGPT’s Post:

Prompt: Can you write a 250-word blog post on Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s work “The Humanities, Done Digitally,” and explain what the digital humanities mean to you?

Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s groundbreaking book, “The Humanities, Done Digitally,” has been a revelation for me, opening doors to a new era of academic exploration. This work not only reshapes our perception of the digital humanities but also signifies its profound significance in our evolving world.

To me, digital humanities represents the convergence of technology and the humanities, an exciting nexus where traditional scholarship intersects with cutting-edge digital tools and methodologies. Fitzpatrick’s book amplifies the idea that the digital realm isn’t just a facilitator but a transformative force within the humanities.

“The Humanities, Done Digitally” emphasizes “generous thinking,” a concept that profoundly resonates with my vision of digital humanities. It embodies the ethos of collaboration, breaking down barriers, and sharing knowledge openly, promoting an inclusive and interconnected scholarly community.

In my perspective, digital humanities is a dynamic bridge between academia and the broader public. It champions the dissemination of knowledge, making it accessible to a wider audience. It embraces innovation while preserving the essence of humanistic inquiry.

Digital humanities, for me, symbolizes the adaptability and evolution of academia. It recognizes that the humanities are not stagnant but can thrive in the digital age, enhancing our analytical, interpretive, and storytelling capabilities.

Reflecting on “The Humanities, Done Digitally” and my personal journey, I see digital humanities as a mindset, a movement, and a promise of a more connected and inclusive future for scholarship and creativity. Fitzpatrick’s book exemplifies the boundless potential at the intersection of technology and the humanities, igniting my enthusiasm for the evolving landscape of academic exploration.

Picture by DALL-E with the prompt: The Definition of Digital Humanities



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Responses to “Definitions for the Digital”

  1. Catherine Eyre Avatar
    Catherine Eyre

    It’s strange seeing ChatGPT write in the first person. For some reason I’d kind of assumed if asked for a personal opinion it’d tap out, but apparently not. Apparently, it just gets very insistent that the ideas it’s discussing are “for me”, “to me”, “my vision”, “in my perspective”, “for me”, and “my personal journey” every other sentence.

  2. Garrett Mast Avatar
    Garrett Mast

    For one, 10/10 with the DALL-E image of defining Digitial Humanities, couldn’t have said it better myself. I agree that DH lacks a single definition, and I think that’s an inherent part of the field, it being a nebulous idea of what can be done regarding humanities in a digital space. I find it rather humorous that arguing about this definition seems to be a core part of DH. Also, I think ChatGPT using the first person was slightly ‘uncanny valley.’ It feels weird, a slightly unnatural use of first person that I can’t quite place, mixed with the super common ChatGPT structure of way too short paragraphs.

  3. Brian Croxall Avatar

    Interesting to see ChatGPT take on the first-person here, which was obviously steered by asking for it to “explain what [DH] mean[s] to you” (emphasis added).

    In other perspectives, I’m not surprised that people have wanted to know what these classes are that you’re taking, Elijah. Anytime I tell people what I teach/study, I have to then explain what it is. I have a couple of things I can throw out to help people get a sense of it. But it’s clear that “digital humanities” doesn’t make sense in the way that “biology” or “music theory” would.

  4. Maria Durrans Avatar

    I agree with your point that there may not be a singular definition of what the digital humanities is. I think it is something that varies within the context of the situation. Thanks for sharing!