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The wrong side of the spreadsheets: a life in the digital humanities

Janet Anderson (Highbury Research and Development, Dublin, Ireland)

Digital Library Perspectives

ISSN: 2059-5816

Article publication date: 24 March 2021

Issue publication date: 21 May 2021

133

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this viewpoint paper is to reflect on both the technological and the humanities aspects of working in the digital humanities.

Design/methodology/approach

The author completed her academic career as Professor of Digital Humanities (DH) at the University of Brighton, UK. In terms of approach, she looks back over 25 years of working in this domain, which she entered as a scientist in contrast to most of the other academics at that time who came from the humanities. She delineates her academic journey that passed through various disciplines/fields.

Findings

The author reflects upon her entire career, starting with decisions made at school, to see how they have affected her contribution to DH. She concludes that a deep understanding of technological issues is fundamental to making sense of such complex fields as Big Data and its effect on humanities research in particular and society in general. She also draws attention to the loss of several highly technical, specialised and practical DH teams, which were replaced with ones whose focus is on DH discourse.

Originality/value

The author is writing as one of the very few scientists who belonged to the new area of history and computing in the mid-1990s.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author is grateful to her husband and chief collaborator, a retired Professor like her, David Anderson, whose support and expertise are invaluable to her. The author has benefited greatly from European Commission grants (and one from JISC) which are detailed in full in the article. Last but not least are the many wonderful colleagues, she has worked with over the years, from universities, archives, libraries and museums, one such being Anna Maria Tammaro who asked her to write this thought piece.

Citation

Anderson, J. (2021), "The wrong side of the spreadsheets: a life in the digital humanities", Digital Library Perspectives, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 179-188. https://doi.org/10.1108/DLP-07-2020-0067

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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