Similar to the term public history there is no clear definition of digital humanities. Both terms are somewhat broadly defined, in digital humanities case that definition that is used by wikipedia is
an area of scholarly activity at the intersection of computing or digital technologies and the disciplines of the humanities. It includes the systematic use of digital resources in the humanities, as well as the analysis of their application…It brings digital tools and methods to the study of the humanities with the recognition that the printed word is no longer the main medium for knowledge production and distribution.
This just says that digital humanities are projects that use digital tools or a digital medium to create works for the humanities discipline. By this standard pretty much any public history project that is done digitally would count as a digital humanities project.
The main strength of digital humanities is likely that it allows for scholarship to reach wider audiences than traditional methods could before. Blogs, podcasts, and Twitter are all examples of fairly commonly used methods digital humanists convey research as well as to communicate with the public and other professionals. Twitter in particular is a great tool for historians to communicate with large groups of people and promote their research in a fashion that traditional academic practices may limit, and twitter can make history fun by giving a new perspective to events by reenacting events. Some historians on twitter have thousands of followers that aren’t academics or students but are just people who want to read about history and have access to the fact-checking that twitterstorians, as they call themselves, often provide.
Tweeting is still work, as seen by the amount of time and effort the twitterstorians interviewed in the Slate article Making History Go Viral put into some of their tweets. The threads of tweets rebuking false claims or presenting a bit of research can take hours to write or to find the sources that the author wants to use, even though tweets themselves are limited to less than 200 characters. Is the amount of work worth it for a student or someone less well established in the field? The long educational threads may have a wide audience for the historians who have established themselves, but should someone new to twitter or historic research and writing go through the trouble of creating such works especially when promoting one’s twitter to reach an even wider audience can be another job in itself?
Many of the projects and works done digitally appeal to a wider audience because they are not entirely reliant on text to convey research or are more able to combine text with multimedia to be more engaging than typical academic work. Podcasts are a clear example but other projects such as spokanehistorical.org or islandhistories.com which are place-based history projects that use for readers to see stories near their location and create their own tour experience are becoming more popular. Writing is still probably the core skill for these two examples, as well as for using twitter, but digital humanities, to paraphrase Stephen Ramsay from the Limits of Digital Humanities article, can require the use of a wide range of unique and distinctive of skills including coding, GIS, recording audio and video, and graphic design, just to name a few.
Due to the whole global pandemic situation, there has been a noticeable uptake in digital humanities projects. One such example is the attempts by the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane, Washington to create new audiovisual material such as youtube videos. The museum, commonly called the MAC, had already been using social media such as Twitter and Instagram as most businesses would, with less than impressive results for the most part, and unfortunately, the videos being produced are getting few views. Now I do not expect that the MAC’s videos get similar viewer numbers compared to even the British Museum’s channel, but many of the videos that have been put up have less than 100 views. So as I read the blog post-Twitter Strategies for Historians by Liz Covart I began to wonder if these same strategies would be something a small-town museum could use to gather interest in their digital exhibits.
While thinking about this and how a small museum may have to adjust to gain a wider audience digitally It occurred that many criticisms of museums are also criticisms of the digital humanities. From the Wikipedia articles criticism section the digital humanities suffer from “‘a lack of attention to issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality, an absence of political commitment, [and] an inadequate level of diversity among its practitioners” these same criticisms can be made of museums, although to be fair many museums have begun to address these criticisms in some capacity.