There are many qualities that one needs to consider having when one decides to create a good Digital Humanities project. Here are five qualities that we have discussed this semester in class:
1.) It has to be scholarly
In order to create a good Digital Humanities project, it must be scholarly. This means that the project has to cite where the data is coming from in order to make their project credible and legitimate. In order to make it scholarly, one must also post a list of all the individuals that collaborated together in order to make the project. A Digital Humanities project that has included this quality is the “Old Bailey’s” digital archive. On their archive, they included on the home page a link called, “The Project” which takes you to all the sources that they compiled to create the archive and also a list of the project staff. Here is a link to their “About This Project” page.
2.) A walkthrough of how to use it
In order to develop a good Digital Humanities project, one must have a walkthrough of how to use their project. This would be very helpful because not everyone will know how the website works and by having a walkthrough of the project, you can show them useful tools in order to make your project seem even more interesting and useful. A video walkthrough would be ideal so that the viewer can actually visually see how the project functions. One of the Digital Humanities project that has included this quality is the “Locating London’s Past” mapping project. On their home page, they placed a link to a video walkthrough of how to use and navigate through their project. Here is the video walkthrough link. What is really great about this particular website is that they decided to post not just one video, but rather multiple videos in order to differentiate what topics they are presenting in each so that it is not just one very long video.
3.) It has to be focused
In order to produce a great Digital Humanities project it also important to keep it focused on a central theme or subject. This is so essential in a project because this is what makes the project organized. If the project is not focused on a particular theme or subject, then the viewers will be confused when navigating the website because they will not be sure of what the project is trying to convey or how each of the subjects that the project presents relate to one another. Therefore, it is crucial that the information that is included in your project must somehow all correlate with one another. One of the Digital Humanities project that demonstrates this quality is the “Old Bailey’s” digital archive. In this archive, the project team describes exactly what information they are going to present in the archive, which is located on the home page. On the home page, they have described Old Bailey’s as, “A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London’s central criminal court.”
In order to create a good Digital Humanities project it is also wise for it to be user-friendly. This is important because if it is not user-friendly, then it will be difficult for the users to navigate on the website. One of the Digital Humanities project that is very user-friendly is “Locating London’s Past” because the map has a zoom in and out function and you can also go to the street view when you place the little orange figure on the map. The creators used google maps in order to have these functions. It is also user-friendly because everything is clearly labeled. For example, if you want to find data, then there is a red tab that says “Data.”
5.) Nice design
A great Digital Humanities project should be created with a nice and clean design. It should not by any means be cluttered. This quality is also necessary because if you have a nice design, it will attract people’s attention and it will make the project even more visually appealing. “Locating London’s Past” has a nice design because they chose very nice colors and the colors that they chose are interesting because it is red, white, and blue which are the colors of the British flag. That is a very brilliant idea because it correlates with the subject of the project, which takes place in London, England. At the top of the website, there is a man that is dressed in an outfit from the 1700s which also makes sense because the map that they use is from 1746. Designs like this make the website even more interesting because it makes it even more realistic.
How does Digital Humanities let scholars ask new questions?
Digital Humanities projects, like the ones that I mentioned above, let scholars ask new questions because scholars are the viewing the data in a completely different way, which allows them to find patterns between the different data, which is more difficult and timely to compile from written documents. In addition, because of technology, everything is brought online for everyone to view whenever anyone wants to. Therefore, we can compare information without leaving our own home and by comparing the data we can create trends and see how the data correlates. Scholars can ask new questions about history and whether history could have changed based on mapping projects that they have conceived.