As others have mentioned, one of the values that is paramount to the field is its ability not only to experiment but to do so freely, meaning that failure is not only safe, but considered valuable, as it creates “new ignorances” that may not have otherwise been found. It is possible that the act of defining the digital humanities is an experimental process that will continue to recreate itself and uncover imprecisions and new ignorances in ways that other fields that are less experimentation, tool, and values-driven are not.
A thread that ran through the assigned texts was an effort to define Digital Humanities with examples like the “big tent” metaphor, or as an expanding field likened to sculpture. It is possible that DH resists definition because it is in a constant state of revision/remix/refactoring (choose your tool) but that also makes these attempts to do so very lively. The attempts to define DH are like experiments themselves, and if they lack precision or do not meet the requirements of their test, they have discovered “new ignorances,” which allow the scope of the field to grow and refine itself. This itself appears a defining feature of DH and is one of the most exciting parts to me, the exploratory and revolutionary reflection on itself and ability to reinvest in a better, more
I have to ask because it is a thing I have been trained to do, why are we doing this? Beyond the convenience of explaining the field to those outside it, would precision of definition be a goal? Or efficiency? This could help practitioners in the “definition experiment” understand what a better outcome could be, or even a better failure.
If precision is less important, but creating understanding within the field is more so, Digital Humanities may best be defined by a set of values, as Spiro begins to do. Values are difficult to wrangle as well, but after examining more of the texts this week I believe they have a point: The DH field and its practitioners are most likely to have these characteristics in common. The values suggested (Openness, Collaboration, Collegiality & Connectedness, Diversity, Experimentation) are broad but difficult to argue with especially given the work we have been presented with this week and their extended definitions. I believe many of us have come to study DH because we hold these values in our work as well and are excited to find a field that may support them.