A Review – The Humanities, Digitized.
During class when we had the discussion on how technology had changed the study of archaeology, I was fascinated by how the new inventions of the future can change how we recognize the past. But then the question comes to, how far can technology take us when it comes to exploring the past?
In this article on the Harvard Magazine, another form of digitized humanities was presented to the readers. According to the article, scholars were able to re-create scenes of the Giza Plateau “as it was approximately 4500 years ago” (Shaw) using a visualization center build for earthquake simulations, which a virtual world was projected to the students using 3D technology. In addition, most of the virtual 3D scenes were recreated using photos taken at the actual site of the pyramids. Characters appearing in the funeral scenes of the pharaoh had their facial features recreated based on the statues of the Egyptian officials of the era.
According to the writer, this was “a visualization – a teaching and research tool more powerful than a video” (Shaw). In class we were presented how data of the actual architecture could be stored and then recreated into images using the iPad and other modern technology. However the methods used in this article has taken digital humanities to another level. I recall that currently some museums offer interactive tours, in which detailed images of the architecture was taken, and made into a virtual tour of the actual museum. This was perhaps the first form of digital humanities that I had come into contact with.
This form of digital humanities breaks away from learning only visually, but now could be said as “being physically at the site.” Using the earthquake simulator, the professor was able to take his students to a “field trip” to the site, and actually be able to “feel” the feeling to be at the site. Additionally, the different stages of the construction of the pyramid were also recreated using the detailed photographs at the site, which meant that the students could experience the changes in the pyramid as it was built.
Digitizing humanities does not mean it should only be limited to the visual level. Just as in this example, the technology had added not only a visual, but also an element of touch using the earthquake simulator, to actually feel how it feels like to be at the actual historical site of the pyramid. Digitizing humanities meaning that it would change how we view history. While not long ago we were still learning off old photos and words in a textbook, not far in the future we will be able to actually see the old world in color, and actually feel history, as humanities are being digitized by technology.
The Humanities, Digitized
Reconceiving the study of culture
by JONATHAN SHAW