While at The Past’s Digital Presence conference, eating Thai food with a group of new friends, our conversation turned to defining Digital Humanities. We were mostly historians, but there was also an English student and one in Media Studies. All of us had vastly different research projects, backgrounds, and experiences. Only two of us (that I know of) would consider themselves programmers. Some of us had taken a nontraditional route to our PhD studies. Only one of us had done her doctoral work at an Ivy.
The more we talked the more I realized that we really didn’t have a whole lot in common except, perhaps, an enthusiasm for this thing called “Digital Humanities.” But as we attempted to define Digital Humanities we saw that it was a big tent and none of us really fit into it the same way. For example, I call myself a “digital humanist” because I’m a tool user and because I enjoy the kinds of projects and conversations that hover around the field. But others in the group seemed to define themselves as digital humanists because of the nature of their research sources, or because of their IT background, or because of a particular pedagogical approach.
So my question is: do you consider yourself a digital humanist? If so, why? And, do you think there are benefits to keeping the DH tent wide open to anyone who chooses to define themselves this way, or is their value to assigning a specific definition to who is and who isn’t a digital humanist?