Digital humanities extends traditional arts and humanities activities while also generating new methods, objects, and audiences of scholarly and creative practice through active engagement with IT and new media. Dighum includes four areas of activity:
Digital Learning: integration of IT within learning environments and educational curricula devoted to potentially any subject matter.
Digital Inquiry: archive digitization; critical use of materials, tools, and services; and development of new research models, including quantitative methods, for research in any arts and humanities field.
New Media Practice: lab- and studio-based research and training in the arts, rhetorics, and techniques of digital production.
New Media Studies: research into the communities, symbolic forms, and social practices associated with digital media and IT systems.
While these areas often overlap, each entails its own ensemble of people, technologies, and critical issues. Datamining and interpreting texts, images, and performances differs from effectively using new media in classrooms, both of which differ from conducting online ethnographies or teaching students to collaboratively produce multimedia installations.
As an emergent nexus of activities, dighum should not be reduced to either a field or a discipline. It is much wider than a field as it interconnects the arts and humanities in innovative ways, while also forging new relationships with the sciences and professions. A digital inquiry team, for example, might include a literary scholar, linguist, visual artist, ethnomusicologist, game designer, statistician, programmer, copyright lawyer, and market analyst.
Dighum is also much deeper than any one discipline or interdisciplinary team, for it connects to the emerging cyberinfrastructure of the academy and society at large. Indeed, dighum at UW plugs into the media cultures of communities local and global, helping to extend the Wisconsin Idea into the 21st century.
Significantly, libraries and new media industries have often been at the cutting edge of digital humanities, introducing faculty and students to tools and services that enable new ways of producing knowledge and creating art and design. As the humanities more fully engage with digital technologies, their traditions of critical thinking and creative experimentation will enrich the ways we experience and shape the world.