27 March 2012

Day of DH: Thomistic Roots

I shouldn't be blogging at all today with a paper to finish, but as I logged into my feed reader today I realized it is Day of DH. For those of you who are non-librarians, Day of DH is a day when digital humanists around the world spend some time documenting what they do, usually by blogging or shout-outs in the Twitter-sphere. I'm not a digital humanist, but I have a marginal interest in DH activities, especially because I'm interested (as any archivist who wants to survive the future) in digital archiving and  preservation. There are a lot of really cool DH projects out there, done by both scholars and non-academics. One of my favorites is the Rosetti Archive (it's cool to see the poems and art of a poet-artist juxtaposed on the same page). Despite some attitudes to the contrary, the humanities are not dead, and technology is only helping to re-vitalize them.

One interesting piece of trivia about digital humanities, humanities computing, or whatever you want to call it, is that it has Jesuit origins. Fr. Robert Busa, S.J., collaborated with IBM to conduct linguistic analysis on the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, resulting in the production of the Index Thomisticus. Fr. Busa, bless his heart, spent years working with punch cards to produce this. He began this not in the 1980s, nor the 1970s, but 1949 (!). He is known as an early pioneer in digital humanities, and his death last year was a loss for the international DH community. So take a few minutes today to see what is happening in DH!

Fateful meeting with St. Thomas: a drawing from Fr Busa's last Christmas card (2010).

On Twitter: #DayofDH

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