What are We Going to be Doing?

IBM estimates that we create 2.5 quintillion (2,500,000,000,000,000,000) bytes of data per day. This rate is so steep that 90% of the world’s data has been created in just the last two years.

As the scale and import of big data continues to spike, digital and computational environments play an enormous role in shaping research, policy, business, social interaction, and creative expression. This digital realm has sparked incredible – and sometimes daunting – opportunities for knowledge and exploration.

It is important to be critical about the implications of these changes.

-Who is being represented, and who is being left out?

-What can we do with these new tools, and what are their limitations?

-What ethics or traditions are embedded within these tools?

-What are their cultural implications?

In Introduction to Digital and Computational Studies, we will address these questions on both macro and micro levels.

We will learn about the applications of digital tools and computational methods in a wide range of academic fields, ranging from biology to English, from history to environmental studies, from government to mathematics. We will use two case studies to introduce these tools and methods. First, we will attempt to recreate what Joshua Chamberlain could see at the Battle of Gettysburg to better understand his decisions and experience. Next, we will address the complex notion of identity in the era of social media.

Students will learn the basics of the Python programming language, spatial analysis and environmental modeling using ArcGIS, text analysis using Voyant and NLTK, social network analysis using Gephi, and metadata analysis using Immersion.  (Assumes no prior knowledge of a programming language.)

We seek to address the growing influence of the digital and computational in the world and in our lives. These changes impact and reflect our culture, and a better understanding of this field will help us face the challenges that our digital environment creates and modifies for us everyday.