The main thing I learned in religious studies 315 that data is much more malleable than one would like to believe. Someone who uses data has to be very careful with their metadata otherwise they can end up painting a maligning portrait of someone. For instance, if you showed crime statistics for an area you could say that one group could be more prone to violence than others, showing a false and harmful narrative. Even if the data is collected from an area that is wrongfully overpoliced. This would then create a false narrative and if used in a predictive algorithm, would persecute people wrongly.
Another thing I learned, is that the metadata used and on a macro level, the metadata given to users shows a company’s inherent bias, this in conjunction with my other class, display that it is very hard for an individual and by extension, systems created by individuals to be without presuppositions and biases. These then reflect in meta data where it is very hard to convey a different way of knowing as opposed to the traditional euro-American post renaissance way of thinking. For example, there exists whole other database offering tailored to indigenous people groups. Utilizing a similar but more niche set of metadata.
The final few sessions were focused on privacy, and I left those classes with a much more revitalized fear of big data. The main concern I walked away with is predictive data algorithms and virtual reality, I will be moving to the woods.
This class has taught me a tremendous amount of useful information about data. When I initially signed up for the class, I assumed it was a lecture class on different religions around the world. I was unaware of what digital humanities even was so I took a shot in the dark and took this class. Overall, I am glad I took this class because it has taught me valuable knowledge on working with data, which in this day and age is more critical to know now than ever before. I have come to understand digital humanities as the look into how humanities around the world are intersecting with ever changing technology. Technology is critical in any facet of structured education, it used for the most basic of task such as turning in homework, to finding scholarly articles on religious texts. Its easy to tell how religious study can fit into digital humanities. Digital humanities has to do with the discipline of humanities and religion is core part of humanities studies. Through Digital humanities, we are able to extract data from specific texts and see how often a word or phrase is used.
Over the course of the semester, I have come to understand digital humanities as the use of data and technology to analyze and present information in different ways particularly in relation to the humanities. One of the things that interested me during this class was the use of technology to study and accomplish things that may not have otherwise been possible. Thinking about the massive projects that we have learned about this semester for example in relation to texts and history and how technology was used to accomplish these projects that would have taken someone too long to do or could not have been done. Before I took the class, I had seen the three-dimensional modeling done with archaeological projects and I thought they were really cool, but a lot of work goes into making them and so learning how they and the many other projects that we looked at during this class were created showed me that some of these projects likely required technology or technology created new ways for the information and data to be presented, visualized, and analyzed.
Religious studies is such a broad field that studies religion but also looks at so many different things like definitions. It taught me critical analysis skills and it relates to so many different fields of study. Digital humanities can be used to study religion and make massive projects possible and present or analyze that information in different ways. The skills learned in studying DH like making charts, graphs, and looking at things like patterns or metadata are useful and can also be applied to so many other projects, classes, and subjects including religious studies.
This semester, I have been introduced to and exposed to digital humanities for the first time. Throughout the course, I have come to understand digital humanities as a way to combine a field that is very well known for accuracy, data, and statistics with a field loved for its ambiguity, interpretations, and depth. Within the study of religion, I think digital humanities is a way to put an excess of written word and experience into an aesthetically pleasing visual interpretation. I believe these interpretations allow people who may not be well-versed in the field of humanities to understand the fluidity of data. When I think about digital humanities and religion, I come back to the visualization we looked at in class where you could filter through different religious groups and different media surrounding them. I believe one of them was looking at Seventh-day Adventists and there were sounds, photographs, and texts. The idea that religion with so many contributing factors can be almost summarized into data visualization is very intriguing. There is a lot of insight that you can gain from data–I believe it just requires a little bit more effort with respect to looking at data and humanities. Aside from learning what digital humanities is, something else I found to be interesting during the course was the different ways in which people utilize this data to benefit a certain cause. Specifically, when we were looking at big data and ideas such as this, it was interesting to see the variety of people using digital humanities. One of the most compelling aspects of digital humanities that we learned through this course was looking at the Native American view on DH and how data can be used for both good and bad. I believe that this reading/example conveys the most useful interpretation of digital humanities in relation to religion and culture.
This course has taught me a lot. To begin with, I was not even sure what “Digital Humanities” was before I took this course. Now I know that in involves a lot of data, and cool interesting displays of that data. Obviously, we learned DH is much deeper than cool interactive images and numbers. I think the biggest takeaway I got was the level of intricacies in data collection and presentation. We read many good pieces about data. I found the readings about meta data to be most interesting to me. I also found learning about the various websites and tools that are used for different DH projects to be extremely helpful in my understanding of the concepts of digital humanities. I feel like I’ve gained knowledge of many different topics in digital humanities that I can go back and explore on my own time after the course is finished (which I can’t say I’ve had the same experience in many other classes). I already had a some interest in digital topics around computer science and the internet so combining that with the study of religion was very interesting. I really enjoyed all the little weird websites that do non-conventional things like the Ai art creator and writer. I also enjoyed doing the projects for this class because they allowed room for a bit of creativity which was something I was not expecting. Overall, this class has given me new interests and pushed me to think more critically about technology and its relationship with topics in religion.
When I first started this course, I truly didn’t know what to expect. I couldn’t really give a solid definition of digital humanities. I understood that this course would likely use digital tools to explore the field of religious studies. The first class text we worked with, Observe, Collect, Draw!, made me question my original thoughts on the digital part of the course. However, after our first few labs and exercises focusing on collecting data in creative and unique ways, I began to understand the importance of understanding data in any research as well as analyzing data in the traditional sense. It also became clear as we explored digital humanities through various projects, encoding, working with visualizations, and content management systems that data could be easily manipulated and was subjective and open to interpretation. Specifically, I learned that while data is important to studying the humanities and in religious studies, it also has its limitations and needs to be approached objectively and with accessibility and sensitivity of different culture groups in mind. Finally, it was only after I began work on my final essay that it all came together for me in connecting all of the digital skills I learned with research in religious studies.
So now digital humanities for me can be defined as the use of technology to theorize, research, report, and share information on different historical, cultural, religious, and social questions. Digital humanities in religious studies can be used to research how data was historically collected, how data is currently used, and challenge any personal bias of researchers when answering questions related to religious studies research. The technology I learned in this course will be extremely helpful in how I interpret not only academic research, but any digital information and visualizations I encounter on a daily basis.
Digital Humanities has been pretty cool this semester and it totally deviated from what I thought it was going to be. At the beginning of the semester, I was genuinely concerned about this class requiring a ton of coding and learning to use applications and software systems that frustrated me in high school when i initially tried to learn them. That was not the case. I had a pretty bad understanding of what DH really was until recently. I think that at least according to my own definition, Digital Humanities is a more advanced approach to the work that has been and is done in the field of religion for as long as its been around. Moreover, I would define Digital Humanities as a more tangible approach to understanding the complexities of academia through the presentation of data that seeks to better represent large quantities of data. I found that I learned all sorts of cool stuff about APIs and Big data, I furthered my ability to do effective research, and most importantly, I learned how to input the things I’ve gathered in my research and put them together in such a way that I would be able to provide some really cool visualizations (I think). The greatest way to argue that this fits into the study of religion is simply to look around the department here at the capstone. For example, the projects we focus on in this class are great examples as they’re directly related to religion. Even further, the department focuses on its podcast and the faculty are undoubtedly critical components of projects like The Religious Studies Project and others like Uncivil Religion which both rely heavily on material derived from the skills we’ve developed in DH this semester.
Digital Humanities in Religious Studies has not been what I expected, and not in a bad way either. I thought we would be looking at religions or the concepts and theories of religion through technology and how technology can help assist one in such an endeavor. Rather, it was a critical approach to the concept of data and data collection in relationship to academic scholarship as a whole (across the humanities and even beyond). I have never thought, and I am most people have not either, that data and categorization could be individualized to such a great degree; Meaning, throughout the course we have studied the concept of data as a whole and have seen the amount of work that goes in to collecting, categorizing, presenting and explaining data. The interesting aspect of the collecting, categorizing, etc. is that all of it is done by people, usually groups of people. This course has reminded me what it means for something to be “objective”, namely objectivity is a category one places something in order to use it in a certain manner within society. Nothing can be truly set apart from bias or perspective. For instance we read Marisa Elena Duarte & Miranda Belarde-Lewis work called Imagining: Creating Spaces for Indigenous Ontologies where we looked at how categorization from a colonial perspective has misrepresented the Indigenous population to one degree or another. It shows that one must not be overly confident in the resources and ideas the read, even in scholarship. There are structures in place which have been there for so long that many people cannot see it anymore. DH is trying to lift the veil of scholars and those who read them by revealing said structures and working to create a better field of scholarship for academia and the future as a whole.
For my final project I am exploring religious movies and how they are made. Mainly I am looking into who is making the movies, where they are filmed, and who is representing the characters. My question is “Are religious movies accurately portraying people of faith?”. I ask this question because representational ethics is highly debated topic in film and television, this mainly due to concerns of type casting roles instead of choosing actors accurate to the people they are playing. One place I am stuck at is creating a heat map of where the films are shot.
Actors who played Jesus, Moses, Noah, Buddha and more religious figures
My research for my final project is over, and now I am deciding how how I want to dissect the data. I have been exploring what Voyant can do with texts, since that is going to be the main website I use for my project. I thought about going through each of Plato’s books in the Republic and see what words are the most used in each section individually to help me see if there is a pattern. I noticed when I looked at all of the books together in Voyant as a long text file, I saw that the word “true” was used very frequently. I thought about going through each book and mapping out which words are used most frequently with “true” and see if I could graph them on one of the cites we used several weeks ago. I am not set on this, but it is a very viable option.