Humanities with a Digital Edge

Gauri Chhabra
There is a pattern in the way students make career choices. After Grade X, they would opt for Sciences, STEM courses being one of the most sought after. Often times, it is seen that a vast majority of them feel that they are stuck with the wrong choice, a choice that they do not fit in with. They wish to switch to Humanities but are confused and feel that Humanities degrees don’t often lend themselves to obvious career choices. If you read medicine, you can be a doctor. But what job should you do if you studied medieval history or philosophy, for example?
Are you one of them? Do you wish to study Humanities and also wish to have a digital edge?
If yes, you should go in for Digital Humanities.
Digital Humanities is an emerging field that encompasses the practice of humanities research through information technology, and the exploration of how humanities evolve through their engagement with technology, media, and computational methods, which is basically the use of computer technology to understand the arts and literature. The good thing is that the modern tech-savvy generation with a knack for studying the subjects that come under the discipline of humanities have welcomed with open arms the advent of digital humanities as a study area. The surmounting digital data that is available nowadays presents exciting opportunities for new research questions with opportunities for real-life applications. In such a scenario, digital humanities trains and prepares students to gear up for a growing number of job opportunities that demand the processing and handling of digital information.
Course Content
The discipline of the digital humanities explores how the questions posed in humanities scholarship are transformed and extended by the digital – both by means of tools and epistemologies. This course seeks to enrich the scope of both design and the humanities by using critical methodologies and approaches to reciprocally reflect upon the other. By doing so, students are able to adapt the modes of inquiry and methodologies embedded in humanities thinking to create both more contextually relevant and responsive technological applications and material objects.
Institute scape
In India, the course is being taught in a few graduate institutes. Some of them are:
* Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology, Bangalore offers both undergrad and postgraduate programs
* Jadavpur University (JU), Kolkata, offers a PG diploma. Pun
* Pune University offers a certificate course.
* K.R. Mangalam University, NCR, offering B.Tech in Digital Humanities
* Kotis Women’s College, Hyderabad.
In the last decade, digital humanities has also become a popular course in many top universities in Europe and North America. In Japan, China and Singapore, many colleges are offering digital humanities too.
Career Pathways
Students pursuing digital humanities are eligible for jobs like digital library developers, copy editors, e-learning module developers, web designers, and information managers.
The following are the top five job arenas for the graduates of Digital humanities:
Digital Curator
Simply put, it means creating content for digital collections. It is one of the most sought-after career paths after graduating with digital humanities. The key skills needed for digital curator entail the creation of catalogs or tags with metadata, preservation of the integrity of the collection of materials, evaluation of public reaction to the exhibited material, archiving, storing and disposing of materials that are not of use, and so on.
A digital curator can join any company that demands the preparation of webpages as a visual exhibit. As a digital curator, you would be a catalyst in the implementation and integration of digital collections and digital tools into curatorial functions and to lead innovative digital projects, working closely with curators in other discipline areas.
Cultural Designer
A good design is immediately understood. But “understanding” varies between cultures. Cultural design differences are often seen as cute anomalies that won’t ever matter for designers. … There are plenty of other culture-bound designs out there, shaping everything from the shape of everyday objects to public policy. Cultural designers strive to make the designs and technologies more suited according to the social context and ensure better use of culture as a resource for innovation. Cultural designing is analogous to environmental designing in the way that it holds huge potential for improving the relationship between the quality of life and technological changes. You will be hired by companies that deal in bringing forth technologies to make the products more suited to the needs of the customers.
Data Scientist
Not only are Data Scientists responsible for business analytics they are also involved in building data products and software platforms, along with developing visualizations and machine learning algorithms. You would be responsible for analyzing, collecting, and interpreting significant amounts of data for the identification of ways to aid a business in improving operations and gaining a competitive edge over the rivals. The job profile of a data scientist is much like that of a statistician’s role and involves the use of advanced analytical techniques, like machine learning and predictive modeling. Any organization that deals with huge quantities of data require the services of a data scientist.
Information Architect
With Facebook and Google both blocking websites with low valued content, it’s even more important that we produce content that the users will find valuable. Information architects are professionals who decide the structural makeup of digital environments, like a website, to make it more contextual and understandable. Information architects need a broad skill-set including familiarity with design software and HTML coding, in addition to expertise in communication planning. Information architects are generally employed for designing the websites that we use, the software and apps that we download, and the printed objects encountered by us. It is the very foundation for superior user experience with designing being involved in varied fields like content strategy, library science, technical writing, and interaction design.
Metadata Analyst
The Metadata Analyst provides metadata analysis, ingest, and management services. Metadata Analysts support the business needs of the enterprise-owned repository by providing standard data definitions, accurate business calculations, and complete traceability along with the lineage of the governed data. The metadata analysts track questions and comments put forward by the subject matter experts and work towards identifying the gaps in the controlled vocabulary and defined taxonomy. They also remain involved in providing collaboration regarding the prioritization of digital assets and suggest enhancements to UI for all the automated tools.
The Road Ahead
Flash forward 10 years and digital humanities will be present in just about every humanities department. Everyone will be a digital humanist, more or less. If you wish to get on the Digital Humanists bandwagon, the moment is now. If you’re a digital humanist, you’ve got a horseless carriage to ride, and it might just carry you ahead of the horses around you.
But hurry, before everyone else gets one, too.