Why Digital Humanities & STEAM Are Repulsive

Why Digital Humanities & STEAM Are Repulsive

These new concepts are looking to parasite and corrupt instead of create

Introduction


Digital Humanities and STEAM are relatively new concepts, and you may not be familiar with them.

Digital Humanities means the integration of humanities with technology. It augments the capabilities of humanities researchers and practitioners with new possibilities using digital tools.

STEAM means STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) and STEAM is an attempt at adding the liberal arts to the mix. It means to enrich the STEM fields with the creativity, critical thinking, social considerations, collaboration that the liberal arts are supposed to be the masters of.

Combining technology with liberal arts is however not a new concept in itself. Many great artists, writers and musicians have been as competent and involved in science and technology and the same is true with scientists and engineers being great artists themselves. This is why integrating the liberal arts with technology has always been done and this is often how the best discoveries in the arts and science were made.

The Origins of Digital Humanities & STEAM


But the issue with the Digital Humanities and STEAM comes from the intent of their respective advocates.

It is like children playing in a sandbox at building sandcastles. If one child succeeds, his castle will suddenly become very interesting to all the other children, whether they want to help build it or destroy it. And it is no different with STEM fields and the liberal arts in the current environment. It is just as childish. For the past few decades, computer scientists and engineers have enjoyed a level of recognition, respect and monetary compensation that was unprecedented. Suddenly, STEM turned from a field that only interested the most obscure mathematicians to taking the center stage of society.

And many other wanted to have a piece as well. This is why liberal arts scientists and graduates decided that if you cannot beat them, join them. This strategy is rather childish but understandable.

The Issue


In STEAM projects, there is a clear imbalance of skills and efforts required between the technology and the arts.

A Digital Humanities or STEAM project will usually follow the Pareto principle. By that, I mean that 80% of the workload and effort required for the project will be related to technology and 20% will be related to the humanities, at least in the beginning. Most DH projects involve either advanced and resources-heavy image processing, complex 3D modelling or advanced natural-language processing. These are very specific and advanced skills that can help you demand high wages in the industry. They are usually taught during the last year of Computer Science Bachelor or at the Master level.

I saw this same happening during my studies in computer science. It was quite usual to receive advertisements from the university next to our engineering school from business majors looking for computer science students to help them build their products. And most of these ads did not interest us in the least. We all had plenty of ideas we could work on for ourselves. Moreover, it is difficult to have realistic and interesting ideas in technology if you did not study a technical field yourself.

Another issue is the imbalance of students of graduates in both fields. For every one computer scientist, there is at least 10 to 20 humanities graduates. There is also a difference in drive and mental strength. It is much harder to graduate in engineering and the teaching methodology is often very different. Having studied both, I clearly saw how much more critical thinking, drive and independence was required to pass engineering courses compared with humanities courses. Both the Liberal Arts and STEM disciplines can be equally difficult, rewarding and challenging. I do not differentiate in their respective value. However, the caliber of people studying them is vastly different.

Conclusion


This is why Digital Humanities and STEAM are repulsive concepts. They are covert tactics to bring equality of outcome without equality of talent and effort. They seek to bring recognition to people who did not want to invest themselves as much as others in their field or creative artists and writers but are instead being pushed by frustrated and disenchanted scholars and academics.