Digital Humanities Is Data Analytics For English Majors

January 4, 2021

Computer science and the humanities are on separate ends of the education spectrum. The two disciplines do not often mix, but when they do wonderful things happen. The Economist shares a story about book and religious nerds using data analytics to uncover correlations in literature: “How Data Analysis Can Enrich The Humanities.”

The article explains how a Catholic priest and literary experts used data analysis technology from punch card systems to modern software to examine writing styles. The data scientists teamed with literary experts discovered correlations between authors, time periods, vocabulary, and character descriptions.

The discoveries point to how science and the humanities can team up to find new and amazing relationships in topics that have been picked to death by scholars. It creates new avenues for discussion. It also demonstrates how science can enhance the humanities, but it also provides much needed data for AI experimentation. One other thing is brings up is how there are disparities between the fields:

“However, little evidence yet exists that the burgeoning field of digital humanities is bankrupting the world of ink-stained books. Since the NEH set up an office for the discipline in 2008, it has received just $60m of its $1.6bn kitty. Indeed, reuniting the humanities with sciences might protect their future. Dame Marina Warner, president of the Royal Society of Literature in London, points out that part of the problem is that “we’ve driven a great barrier” between the arts and STEM subjects. This separation risks portraying the humanities as a trivial pursuit, rather than a necessary complement to scientific learning.”

It is important that science and the humanities cross over. In order for science to even start, people must imagine the impossible. Science makes imagination reality.

Whitney Grace, January 5, 2021


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