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Digital Humanities & Computation Essentials?

Digital Humanities & Computation Essentials?

What is an algorithm? This question might seem trivial to some, but to those not familiar with programming rhetoric the answer to this question remains ambiguous. Simply put an algorithm is a set of rules that a program must follow in order to complete a task or solve a problem.

Algorithms are heavily used by programmers to develop mobile applications, software and they allow most of the programs and devices that we use on a daily base to work properly. What I have recently realized is that algorithms in the realm of programming do not only apply to programmers and developers, but they are also very applicable in the realm of humanities. 

According to Benjamin M. Schmidt, digital humanists do not need to understand algorithms. Schmidt makes this argument because he believes that as a digital humanist it is import to know what the algorithms do and their end products. He goes on to explain the transformation that algorithms are tasked with completing and their role in producing an output. 

Underwood is another writer that takes a stance on algorithms but from a different perspective. He goes on to explain quantitative and textual analysis and our reliance on them. In terms of taking a direct stance on if it is necessary for digital humanists should understand programming essentials, Underwood seems to bounce around this question and state just the benefits of doing so. 

By comparing the ideals of Schmidt and Underwood it is clear that programming and computational programs are a big part of digital humanities. Many of the programs that are used allow these humanists to analyze the texts and documents that they choose to study in a more in-depth format. The product of these programs are well sorted and analytical data which humanists use, that is why there is no need for the users of these programs to learn how they are constructed. What I will point out is that, although this freedom to use analytical software for digital humanities requires little to know intellectual engagement in the realm of programming, knowing the essentials of the program adds more flexibility to data retrieval and can enhance the data that the user is attempting to retrieve.


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