Why a Philologist Should Become a Digital Humanist or The Digital Turn of an Old-fashioned Researcher

I am not a Gen X, I am not a Millennial: I come from a middle ground, a generational grey zone, and I remember the time when people were assembling a pc while using cassette tapes and telephone boxes. In my Italian small town adolescence, really different attitudes coexisted in front of the digital turn. I am part of the ones who didn’t use a computer until the university years.

As I studied Law and Philology, I was not supposed to develop computer skills, and in my job experiences as language teacher, legal secretary, waitress, and hostess, I mainly used the PC as typewriter.

I’ve never used a PC so many hours in my life as during a PhD Scholarship in Italian Studies and Comparative Literature, but I didn’t change my approach to the Machine: it was, for me, a typewriter and a virtual library. The unavoidable and unknown friend.

This year, 2017, is the time to turn myself into a Digital Humanist. This is an uphill battle, a struggle with my mind in order to acquire a different forma mentis and to learn a new way of learning. I frequently need to remind to myself the reasons of my decision. As I think I am not the only one along this road, and as I am opening my blog in the framework of the Day of Digital Humanities, I dedicate my first blog post to the

Reasons why a Philologist should Become a Digital Humanist

  • Knowing one of his/her best friends.

Are the Internet and the computer essential research tools? If the answer is yes, it is necessary to know our job tools and their potentialities.

  • Being part of the Contemporary world.

Tired of your friends considering you like a dinosaur? Tired of not understanding nerd jokes? This is the time to demonstrate that you know what HTML is. Furthermore, the DH, as explained by Alejandro Piscitelli in this video, are not only a co-association between technology and culture, but also a co-association between different generations.

  • Getting off the “turris eburnea”.

Yes, many of us consider Nuccio Ordine’s Utilità dell’Inutile (Usefulness of the Useless) as a swansong or a manifesto. But we should not forget that Ordine refers both to sciences and humanities, as they are not opposing knowledge.

  • Increasing the scope of his/her researches.

The development of a research project can be substantially influenced and enhanced through some computer skills. As the contents of our researches are determined by the digitalization, we should remark that…

  • «all intellectual work is now software study» (Fuller, 2006).

This is a provisional and potentially endless list, opened to everybody wishing to share DH experiences. Please, add your comment below.

Thanks for reading!