Looking back to the first day of class I remember the lego exercise we did to start off the year. I remember at first thinking that this was ridiculous. I had no idea what I was really signing up for with taking a class on Digital Humanities, and playing with legos was truly surprising. I remember thinking that this was so strange but also so fun. I took a handful of legos and just went to work just as I would have 15 years ago. I ended up making some sort of vehicle because I was given a wheel. After going around and seeing everyone elses creation, the general consensus was that these weren’t masterpieces but they were not complete failures either. Then each person combined their resources with another classmate and made another final product. Again this result was neither perfect nor a complete failure. During this exercise, which at first I thought was silly and a bit pointless we learned a few important lessons.
The first lesson learned was to use was is given to you. When I went back to my seat I had first looked at what legos I had picked up. These legos are what sparked my imagination. I ran off of what I was given, and I did not try to create something regardless of whether I had the pieces. This lesson is applicable to Digital Humanities because an important part of Digital Humanities is using the tools that are given to you in the most effective manner. One may have a general idea of what they would like to do make a project out of, but one should mould these ideas to be presented in the best way possible using the tools they are given. For example, it would be a missed opportunity if a Digital Humanities project that includes multiple maps of the same area did not use GIS. In the same way, it would be a missed opportunity if you were given two lego wheels and did not use them in your final product.
Another lesson learned was that when in doubt just jump into a project, sitting around thinking of the perfect way to do it will not help. Just get it started and make edits along the way. This is easy to apply to the lego building. None of us had a perfect picture of the final creation we would make. We just started putting pieces together, adding on pieces where it seemed fit, and taking out pieces if they didn’t work out. This is similar to a Digital Humanities project. Going into it, you can’t have a perfect picture of the final product. The most important aspect is to get started, dive in, and figure out which aspects of Digital Humanities you can use and which you cannot. One can always trim down or add in pieces to a final project, but the project must be attempted first before you’ll know exactly which pieces fit.
This first day of class, though it may have seemed silly, taught us about the most important Digital Humanities tool, the people behind the project.