How to Become a Digital Humanities Swiss Army Knife

Alright, we got it. The market stinks. There’s never enough time. The digital divide is growing. And if you’re looking to jump the chasm to the marketable promised land, it’s time to be a digital humanist.

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First, start putting words between brackets. This can begin through emails to colleagues. <yikes>Just saw a student dressed as a ghost walk by my office.</yikes> When a colleague receives that email, they’ll think, hmmm, looks like someone knows code. You’ll get an extra +1 if you tweet that same sentence.

To gain some real credibility, it’s important to understand that words are for losers and when geeks like something they just reply “+ 1”. This will drive your non-DH colleagues crazy, but you’ll be able to contribute comments to Slashdot.

Tweet It, Storify It, Blog It

Get a Twitter account. Use Storify. Blog about your tweets. Then tweet about your blogpost. Rinse and repeat.

WordPress Your Bodyweight

Even better, start your own blog using WordPress under a registered domain. This demonstrates a certain savvy cache that a commercial product doesn’t have, unless you’re being satiric, in which case start a Tumblr. +1 if you can tie-in Tim Gunn or Ryan Gosling.


Digital humanities projects involve a lot of work. Talk to librarians. Talk to IT staff. Talk to students. How can you get other people involved? What areas of your project can you divide up so that you may focus your strengths? Even a Swiss army knife may lack a corkscrew.

Light the LAMP

Now that you can communicate, learn Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. Since time is always a factor, you can read the Cryptonomicon for basic knowledge of both UNIX and poor writing. Soon you’ll have your own server up and running, will be cracking sudo jokes, and you’ll be able to write your own WordPress plugins.

Create Your Own Map App

Apple’s new map app is terrible. As a digital humanities Swiss army knife, you can do better. Learn how to use Arc GIS. Then, learn how to develop apps for iOS. Ready, set, go.

Create Ocular Implant

Yes, you may analyze texts through programs like MALLET, but that’s so yesterday. It’s time to innovate. Time to get an NEH grant. Time to create a small implant to be inserted in your tear ducts that can perform textual analysis of an entire book through infrared.

Become Hari Seldon

You’ve come a long way, but it’s time to delve into Big Data. By analyzing terabytes of data, you may be able to see connections and patterns in our day-to-day lives. However, why focus on today, when you can develop theories and algorithms that will churn through petabytes of data and save the Galactic Empire? Not only does the fate of the humanities rest on your shoulders, but so does the fate of humanity.

If this isn’t helpful, you may wish to turn here.


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