Speaking the Languages of Digital Scholarship: Translating Data for the Yellow Nineties Personography

This post is part of an ongoing Digital Scholarship Ontario series which highlights the scholarship and teaching experiences of Ontario’s digital scholars.

by Alison Hedley

At DH@Guelph 2016, the topic of translation (specifically and broadly construed) became a recurring theme in panels, conversations, and in the TEI workshop on which I assisted for Dr. Jason Boyd. I’ve often thought that a fundamental challenge of undertaking humanities work with digital tools is one of language and translation. Lexical barriers can make knowledge and critical use of digital tools pretty daunting. Specific tools and types of data analysis have their own lexicons. Then there’s the lexicon of the media theorists, social critics, and computer scientists who have influenced humanities thinking about computers and their relationship to human cultures. And then there’s the practical and theoretical language of computing that shapes the everyday discourse of digital humanities scholars—words like flatten and nest; parse, granulate, and render; encode, make, and model. The language of specific humanities research fields adds another lexical layer to DH discourse—historical periods, textual genres, and critical paradigms.

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