Borgman meets Fitzpatrick, pushing the DH field forward and collaboration

In Christine Borgman’s article, The Digital Future is Now: A Call to Action for the Humanities, she argues that the digital humanities depend on the scholars themselves to push the field forward.

The argument is structured around the comparison between the budding field of digital humanities and the more established field of eScience. Unlike the humanities, digital scholarship has become the norm for science; over the past two decades eScience has transitioned from being an “emergent” to an “established” field. By assessing the progress and limitations of eScience, Borgman argues we can construct a digital future for the humanities.

Fusing two definitions together, Borgman comes to a more encompassing definition for digital humanities that frames the issues at stake. According to her, digital humanities can best be described as “a new set of practices, using new sets of technologies, to address research problems of the discipline” (Borgman).

Similar to Fitzpatrick’s article, Authorship, Borgman also believes that collaboration is important to writing and, more specific to her argument, to establishing digital humanities as a field. Similar to Fitzpatrick’s writing anxieties, Borgman recognizes that humanists value a sense of individualism to their work, problematically there still seems to be an idealization of a kind of “’lone scholar’ spending months or years alone in dusty archives, followed years later by the completion of a dissertation or monograph” (Borgman). She argues that collaboration, especially in fields such as computer science, will “attract more resources and more attention” (Borgman). Humanist projects like Orlando are a good example of this—it uses computer science skills such as coding to organize a large field of humanist research in a meaningful way while allowing that information to be easily accessible.

(1) Do you believe that it is the responsibility of scholars to establish the digital humanities? What responsibility might we take on as students?


(2) Furthermore, recall Fitzpatrick’s thoughts on collaboration:

“We need to think less about individual authorship and more about collaboration; we need to think less about originality and more about remix; we need to think less about ownership and more about sharing” (Fitzpatrick 28).

I’ve asked something similar before but since there’s been some overlap in the articles: To what extent do you believe that work in the humanities ought to be collaborative? Is it that the digital humanities ought to be collaborative while (nondigital) humanities might not benefit? Why/why not should the humanities focus on collaboration? There does seem to be a weird idealization of the “lone scholar”, I might argue that the some of the kind/nature of scholarly work in the humanities (such as forming arguments and expressing new ideas) is geared towards the individual.


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