by Steve Jackson
The rise of low cost digital media is creating an opportunity for a new academic role, that of the digital social scientist who is conversant with digital media, or the digital media expert who is comfortable with social science. With the rise of the political documentary and the open frontier of pod-casting and video services such as You Tube, there is currently a large groundswell of untrained “opinion casting” whose adherents understand the technology of new media communication but lack the academic rigor found with good social science research. Academic programs need to be developed that find a happy medium between the social scientist and the artist, with the goal of training a new generation of scholars who are comfortable working in both fields not only gathering information but presenting it using modern communication techniques.
The idea of visual and auditory social science is not new. The day Alfred Kroeber, camera in hand, snapped his first photograph of a California Indian, the concept was already well established. Photography had a place as a legitimate tool of the social science researcher, in fact photography was no more than a technical process for capturing images that science had long captured through drawings. Any researcher who thumbs through the notebooks of Charles Darwin and examines the careful visual studies of Galapagos finches will immediately be struck by their photographic like accuracy. Every new technology for recording human thought has been used, with varying degrees of effectiveness, as a tool for acquisition of scientific knowledge.
With the revolution in new technology ushered in by the transistor, thousands of people have access to technology and are using it to comment on human culture. Those people can often be divided into three camps. The first camp is the traditionally trained scholars who take a video camera or an audio recorder into the field with them to acquire information, and who then think about how they can use this data in analysis and even in the presentation of their research. The second are the expert communicator who try, through their work, to create a valid social commentary. The third are the research and artistic amateur whose work may lack professional appeal and may lack crucial understandings of theory and method, but who post valid musing on the human social condition on websites of every description.
The new digital tools, with their reasonable prices (at least for people who come from economically more developed places of the world) has meant an amazing level of empowerment has come to people inside and outside the academy to communicate ideas. In the academy, though, there has traditionally been a division of labor that has caused a bifurcation between the people who discover the information and the people who then communicate the information to the world as a whole, especially where it concerns digital and computer based media. This bifurcation is not anyone!s fault. To some extent, the process of becoming a scholar needs a level of specialization that requires intense focus on the target of the scholar!s study. It does mean that even though the social sciences use new technology to acquire information in the field, very rarely do the practitioners of social science research take it to the final steps of the electronic communication process and turn it into a project that can be shared with other scholars or the public as a whole. Likewise, producers make forays into social science, but few have the training to make their efforts scientifically relevant as well as pleasing to an audience. This is especially problematic since technology now allows the easy sharing of noncommercial content around the globe. Producers who must watch the bottom line are restricted by what they can say and how they say it. Even exceptional producers of programming that bridges the gap between social science and entertainment such as Ken Burns must pay careful attention to the politics of funding.
The answer is for some institutions, especially ones where the faculty teaching in the social sciences are comfortable with professional and art programs, and where professional and art programs can see a larger goal that is compatible with training practitioners of their arts, to develop programs in digital humanities or digital social sciences. These programs will be combinations of social science and digital media, and will be capable of training a new generation of undergraduate and graduate students who are both practitioners of the art of digital communications and trained social scientists. The process of transmitting information represents a redaction of that information. The goal of digital social sciences is to place the power to transmit information into the hands of the people who do the research, so that redaction can be kept minimal, and in the hands of the people who know what represents acceptable redaction.
The Beginning of the Concept
In 1997, while at the University of Tennessee, I wrote an article called, “Acquisition, Manipulation, and Distribution, a Systems Approach to Understanding Media Production in a Convergent World.” In it, I proposed that convergence was creating a media environment where intellectual product could be endlessly repurposed, and that the old paradigms of print, broadcast, and film were no longer applicable. Instead, the new generation of professor who was being trained at institutions like the University of Tennessee in the 1990s had to think about their pedagogy in terms of how information is acquired, how it is manipulated to fit the needs of the audience, and how it is distributed. The information, I argued, and many of the techniques used to acquire and modify it, was universal. The distribution chain was the only part in question, and the training for it more specific that the other parts of the communication chain.
My theory, at least as I understood it at the time, was that faculty needed to embrace a theoretical understanding of how new technology worked so that they could create systems in which students could explore the world. The process of exploring the world and recording their impressions of it would be a key element in the future of teaching at the college level. I further brought forward the idea that the social science elements of the communication field, called the “chi squares,” needed to blend in with the artistic and professional side of the programs, known then as “green-eye-shades.” Communications students would learn social sciences by producing programming that used traditional social science research methods, incidentally introducing two of my other favorite ideas to my understanding of pedagogy, active learning and community learning.
To test my theory, with the unknowing aid of the Department of Broadcasting at the University of Tennessee and some of the smartest scholars I had ever worked with, I raised $40,000 and recast the college radio station WUTK into a multimedia production facility. While students still played music to an interested audience, they no longer were restricted to reading “voicers” on the air during DJ shifts. Several donated computers were set up with Internet connections, web design tools, and photoshop. One of my contacts with the Sunsite program provided me a generous amount of fast server space, and the building engineering group at the University of Tennessee spent long dusty days with me finding a route to drive fiber optics down to the WUTK radio station (located in a garage underneath the administration building). Later, copper cable was dropped into the radio station from a core cut into the ceiling that connected to a fiber relay and the radio station had the fastest network access on campus.
The result was that students working on news packages no longer had to read it live. They could now record their stories to a sound file and post it on a server. That server also could hold video files and photographic essays. WUTK, a traditional radio station, had all the tools needed for student pod casting, video casting, multimedia presentations, and the like, five years before the term pod casting would even be coined. Once presented with the technology, the students could listen to each other!s radio spots, reviewing packages made the year before. My hope was that the student!s work could be seen for what it was, small social science projects that recorded the culture of their times in journalistic form, and that by providing a technology that allowed it to be easily recorded to digital media, the convergence of the professional and social sciences would occur.
The test demonstrated something to me I was not expecting as well. While the students were all training to be journalists, many began to be interested in the connection between what they were creating (audio packages) and what they were studying in other classes such as anthropology. This was aided by the fact that Tennessee!s faculty and doctoral students at the time where mostly excellent teachers, and the students in several of the courses were still working to complete lower level liberal arts requirements. In one case, a student in an anthropology class used the technology in the radio station to complete an audio – visual ethnography. Another student wrote a piece on her own time about the University of Tennessee!s “body farm,” located across the river from the radio station and student reaction to its presence. Both pieces could only be considered features in the world of journalism, but both pieces were valid works of social science in their own way. Some students were trying at least to become social scientist – technologists.
At the same time, I began to noticed another interesting aspect of the issue. Many faculty were trying to use new technologies like video production in their pedagogy.
One example springs to mind. Dr. Robert Levy, and English professor at the University of Tennessee, had started taking a small video camera on trips to Europe with him. The result was an extensive collection of video tape on many of the locations important to his classes. He would then edit these clips together to support his lectures. This was oddly much more effective than if he had pre-canned professional video, since the students, at least the ones who later spoke with me, saw his videos as a real look at the locations being discussed from his eyes. The videos had a great deal of impact and were well received. When I first saw Dr. Levy!s video, I had been called in to help him edit them and get them ready for classroom presentation. He and I discussed the technology he was using, and the desire on his part to understand it better. This was a turnabout since I was trying at the time to understand social science, but was a master of technology. It brought me back to a discussion I undertaken with Dr. Debra Picchi, an anthropologist at the Franklin Pierce College (now Franklin Pierce University) in 1995, that it was too bad that a communication major could not coordinate with an anthropology minor in a way that was planned instead of accidental, namely that anthropology and communication could have a close programatic connection. At the time, I was thinking about how to remake technology courses along the lines of liberal arts classes without loosing their professional qualities. Now I began to see examples of the opposite happening, academics who were finding a use for skills I considered professional in their own work.
What these students and faculty discovered, and what I would later embrace, is that the professional skills they were learning could be applied, given cheap enough technology, to the exploration of the human conditions on a wide range of levels, and that economic considerations need not be the only ones that ruled in the new world of convergence. Given the tools, and the training, the students were exploring their world and telling others about it. At the same time, scholars, given training in media production, would likewise bring those skills to their own pedagogy and research.
During the Bessie Harvey project ( http://sunsite.utk.edu/bessie/ ), and later with Witness and Legacy ( http://sunsite.utk.edu/witness/ ) I was further able to explore this subject by training amateurs to acquire, manipulate, and archive media on subjects of considerable social worth. Although my own industry still put a premium on very narrow and complex skills sets, my training had accidently started me down the path of being a technologist who understood social science, and could teach this middle ground effectively. During the Bessie Harvey project I took a group of untrained scholars, most of who lacked any computer or digital production skills at all, gave each of them a rough course in the theory of how the technology worked, then helped them start converting historical archived media to a digital format that could be used in the main production. Using the WUTK studios as the lab for the media work resulting in one of the rewarding multimedia projects in my career, one that as of this writing still exists on the Internet.
This “pretest” showed me that the skills of professional media production that were within reach of scholars.
For the next several years after this formative experience, I saw also a major flaw in my thinking. The traditional academic fields I was looking to tap were sometimes not all that friendly in the campus environment. Journalism programs taught journalists. Students were by tradition required to take most of their courses outside of the field of journalism, but little effort was ever made to connect the practice of journalism to academic understandings gained through the study of social sciences, even though many journalists themselves at larger universities were technically sociologists, political scientists, or historians. Anthropologists, even when reading such luminaries as Karl Heider (whose works I have always considered foundational in my thinking), rarely took any visual communications courses, meaning that they could evaluate the work of others but not produce their own, unless they hired an intermediary and lost a certain amount of control over their work. My vision of social researchers using modern visual technologies to produce and publish documentary works of record seemed a distant dream.
The Six Literacy Model
In 1999, while working at the University of South Carolina, I first began to test a method of creating an instructional course in digital humanities or digital social sciences within the current framework of communications education. The first step was to define my own understanding of how the digital scholar would have to see the world to easily move from the role of technologist to that of social scientist. The result was a model that defined what I called the four literacy model, which I recorded as a series of “statements and definitions”
Statement One: The core of all educational programs is the effort to increase the literacy of the student, with literacy being broadly defined as the ability to communicate, comprehend communication, and apply critical thinking skills to problem solving using knowledge gained in communication.
Statement Two: Digital social sciences education rests on teaching six types of literacy: Information literacy, creative literacy, cultural literacy, technological literacy quantitative literacy, and scientific literacy.
Artistic literacy is an understanding of how people communicate meaning in a communication system.
Creative literacy is the ability to understand how human beings communicate using writing, vision and sound.
Cultural literacy is the ability to study, understand, and describe cultures.
Information literacy is the ability to acquire information and judge its validity and importance.
Technological literacy is the ability to understand how technology works so it can be used as an effective tool of communication.
Quantitative literacy is knowledge of and confidence with basic mathematical/analytical concepts and operations required for problem-solving, decision-making, economic productivity and real-world applications
Statement Three: The goal of educating the digital social scientist is to illuminate the gulf between the academic and the professional communicator, specifically with training social scientists whose creative and research output can act as a counterweight to popular and commercial media.
The model was purposely left without a clear definition of what a digital social scientist was: anthropologist, sociologist, or historian, as I considered the three fields as seeking the same answers with only their point of view altered. Since the model was, at least at first, for my own use, I also avoided much of the language to make it politically correct. Properly carried out issues of gender, ethnicity, and the like would naturally fall into the idea of four universal literacies. Different courses that I would teach would rely more on different literacies, but in the end all four would be equal.
Once the model was in place, I began to apply it to courses that I was assigned to teach at the University of South Carolina and, later, other institutions. Since I was not a senior member of faculty (indeed, when I started the process of developing this idea I was a junior doctoral student teaching with instructor status) the tests of my theory had to occur when and where the course could easily benefit from it, so some semesters I would teach two or three sections of classes and none would draw from my four literacy model or my ongoing thinking on digital social sciences. To make my own Tests in pedagogy more complicated, at the same time as working out a model for teaching digital social sciences, I was myself trying to become a digital social scientist by Testing with methods of applying digital technology to oral history (which would eventually become my master!s thesis).
The First Test: The Basic Survey Course
The first chance I had to apply my theories to a classroom experience was fall of 1999, when I was assigned as a lecturer for the University of South Carolina!s Journalism 201 Survey of Mass Communications class. While I had taught the class before for the university, this time I was being offered the honors section and being encouraged to try new techniques, meaning I could discard the traditional large hall lectures and apply my newly minted theories to the real world of pedagogy.
The goal for the first Test was small. I wanted to see how students would react when faced with a survey course that required extensive individual research output, and how they would handle being required to publish their findings not as a paper that no one would see but the professor, but as an online article that could be read by anyone. As part of the Test I offered each student the choice between having extra help with the
HTML coding or working more independently and using me as a troubleshooting reference. As it turned out, most students chose the later.
Each student in the class was assigned three papers, one on social science theory, one on the history of some part of mass media, and one on some aspect of media controversy. They were required, over the length of the class, to complete three papers that were written for the web using standard HTML. As a class that contained all freshman, the writing style and output was judged at a suitable level, and grades were given privately to students and not posted with the papers.
The result was a success on three levels. Most of the students in the class when faced with the challenge of HTML overcame it with relative ease, applying a new and very public form of electronic communication to their writing, and showing that a technological literacy requirement could be integrated into a a social science survey course. The second success was that the students reported that their information literacy, as measured in this case by their comfort and facility at library research, rose immensely. Although some educational opinions believe little advantage in active learning I associated the advantages of this method the active learning nature of the course. The students self reported that their sophistication at library search techniques was much higher than that of other honors students, and have even as recently as this year (2007) reported that information literacy skills they learned as freshman are helping them standout as graduate students. In a discussion with Ms. Jessica Matthews in August of 2007, she felt the techniques used in the course were not only more effective for her long term retention of the subject, but that the goal of combining academic understanding with professional media skills would be useful in many other areas. She suggested that the sciences could also benefit from being taught using this model.
The third success was more unusual and was recorded 6 months after the course ended. A faculty member from a university in Perth, Australia wrote me in the early weeks of 2000 that a number of their students had been caught plagiarizing from two student papers posted to the web. The papers were being read around the world by other students who were using them in their own studies (albeit failing to cite them), showing the reach and effectiveness of new media.
The Second Test: The Advanced Social Science Course
When the fall, 1999 Journalism 201 class resulted in a South Carolina Education Foundation teaching award, the Honors College at the University of South Carolina became interested in having another course taught as a senior level honors special topics class. The new course would try to push the paradigm of the previous course forward by giving students access to video equipment, digital audio recorders, digital SLR cameras, computers, and software. Students would choose a subject of local interest on which there was little research on and do an original study of the subject.
The course presented a set of challenges. Most of the students in the course did not have a background in multimedia design, although all the students were excellent thinkers and quick learners. As a result the course would have to include both a skills
component, and a research methodology component, and both components would have to assume only a limited previous experience with the subject. The students were all seniors with a fair background in social science course work, but most of their work was in large university lecture experiences with little, long term retention by the students (at least according to their own self reports). Classroom discussion with students on the first day revealed that all had some concept of anthropological and sociological theory, but that most did not have any experience with research methods. Although initially the intention of the course was to have students test with different methods, including ethnographic and quantitative sociological techniques, time limits restricted most of the class to long interview format research, techniques with which many of the were familiar with from journalism classes.
The students in the course designed three websites on local interest topics that combined video, audio, text, and images, and resulted in a similar outcome as the previous Journalism 201 course. The students in the class reported that the process of developing the media for a website helped them understand the subjects they were exploring, again likely because of active learning. The websites they created also generated several public responses, showing that the information they contained was being read outside of the immediate class. The main criticism of the class was that, existing as it did in a vacuum, the students did not have the ability to develop either research skills or media production skills in depth. As a single elective course it was effective in supporting a liberal arts curriculum.
Several students, during the final class discussion, expressed a wish that they could work on larger projects, or even use the techniques in senior or honors thesis projects. One student, Ms. Denise Levereaux, contacted in August of 2007, claimed that this course and the Journalism 201 class mentioned earlier gave her a strong background in theory and research that put her ahead of her graduate classmates in later years, which again may represent the value of active learning to motivated student groups.
The Third Test: The Basic Technology Production Course
The first attempt to integrate these ideas into a curriculum as whole came in 2004 when Hilbert College hired me to develop and field a curriculum that included both a strong production element, as well as a social science and liberal arts component. The goal of the curriculum set by the college (training media production professionals) did not allow for a specialized digital social science program, but within the goal Hilbert College allowed me a great deal of leeway to develop the content of the main course sequence, and for at least three years the courses would be taught by me. This sequence included a freshman survey course, a freshman art methods course, a sophomore research methods course, and then a set of three production courses. Because of the liberal arts focus two of the three production courses could be taught as documentary production courses, and independent studies could be used to allow students to further pursue the idea of combining social science with digital media. The program adopted the four literacy model as its strategic mandate.
The most unique of the classes (that also turned out to be the simplest to develop and establish) was the initial production class, COM 275 Introduction to Video. Students entering this course would have already attended the communication survey course with its emphasis on information literacy, a basic digital arts course, and more than likely, a general research methods course and a statistics course. Since the digital media program at Hilbert was intended to be strongly liberal arts based, the course could be taught as a documentary production class with a strong social science component.
The Introduction to Video class was run three times, in spring of 2005, fall of 2005, and again in fall of 2006. Each time students were instructed that the class was a combination of production methods and social science technique. Students were also told on the first day of class how this fit with the overall curriculum and what skills they were expected to draw on from previous classes. The final project for each class was defined as a 10 minute documentary of local interest, and the topic was provided to the students, who could choose from a list of approved areas of study. All productions would be posted to the Internet and presented publicly.
The course showed similar results to previous classes. Student production gained exposure both from posting on the Internet and public airing at local historical societies and in the local media. Students also gained social science skills, the most notable being projects that relied heavily on historical research methods. Because the course was established in a sequence, students were much better prepared to benefit from the combination of social science and media production skills offered.
A significant downside of the class was that most students were not interested in social science research, although several of the first students to move through the program went on to develop documentary production efforts after attaining a degree. Despite this, the course fit well into the professional development of the students.
The Fourth Test: The Ethnographic and Documentary Film Production Course
In terms of moving the idea of digital social science and digital humanities from the test role, where it would mostly be used to modify existing curriculum or to improve traditional models of communication education, to the point where students were actually being trained as digital social scientists, required the fielding of a course written specifically for the concept and concentrating both on social science and digital media production. Students in the class would need to be trained in both fields, and the class would have to assume that the students were doing more than using digital media as an active learning style adjunct to a survey or social science course, or as a way of turning a production or technology course into a liberal arts explorations class.
The result was the writing of a senior level ethnographic film course, first to be used as a guideline for the directing of independent study work (primarily with students working on senior thesis efforts) and finally, in fall of 2007 (as this paper is being written) as a fully functional course. The independent study test of this course fell, in spring of 2006, on the shoulders of Cheri White, a Communication Studies major at Hilbert College.
Cheri White was chosen as the person who would work on this project because she was not primarily a media production student (although she would go on to develop her own efforts in documentary production after graduation), because she was an excellent student, and because she had taken both an extensive series of social science research and production courses to qualify her as multitalented. Ms. White, asked to do an independent study that would combine social science and digital media, proposed to study the effects of a severe illness in a young person on that person!s friends, family, and coworkers. The project, later called The Survivor, was told without narration in the words of the individuals closest to the subject, who had been diagnosed at age 14 with a serious form of cancer.
To complete the documentary and associated papers, Ms. White conducted over 20 long interviews, studied the form of cancer the subject had and interviewed doctors who were expert in it, and discussed the treatments that the subject had to undergo. She visited the subject!s place of work and interviewed his employers, and spent many hours talking with the family about their feelings and the events around the subject!s diagnosis and treatment.
Her product of the course, a 20-minute documentary, was an excellent demonstration of what a properly motivated student could do with a planned curriculum. Although Ms. White made some mistakes of art in the production of her documentary, the result was a useful and valid focus on people!s reactions to the illness of loved ones, friends, and coworkers. It also explored the courage that people who face these illnesses continue to live their lives with. The digital film again gained local critical acclaim, was shown in part on local television, and generated local news coverage.
With the experience of the completion of the Survivor behind us, Hilbert College went ahead with its Ethnographic and Documentary film class, hoping to see if students could move from documentary to ethnography, with all class students opting to produce ethnographic films.
The Final Proposal: A Program for the Digital Social Scientist
The results of these tests in digital humanities and digital social science lead me to the final conclusion that digital social science should not only be used as a way of increasing learning (by introducing active learning efforts) and of turning production courses into liberal arts courses (by introducing content intensive segments of technology classes) but should lead to the development of actual digital humanities programs that stand on their own. A department of digital social sciences would build close ties between the humanities, social sciences, and communications, and would include faculty from each area, and would also have their own unique hybrid faculty who work comfortably with digital media in social sciences. The program would develop services courses for other programs, and would offer its own unique programs.
The Undergraduate Digital Social Sciences Major
The rigor of working in two fields with such broad requirements, social sciences and digital media, would make any digital social sciences program at the undergraduate level an elite program. In addition, the program would not want to compete with existing programs for students if possible. Possible uses of these programs at the undergraduate level are for college honors programs (honors students are often more comfortable with the community learning inherent in digital social sciences, while equipment can be held by the honors program) or as dedicated undergraduate research concentrations inside of history, anthropology, or communications.
The Graduate Digital Social Sciences Degree
One of the most exciting areas where digital social sciences can be used is the development of purposeful digital humanities programs that are attached to masters and doctoral level studies. I would envision a Master of Digital Arts (m. Arts) or a Doctor of Arts (d. Arts) as programs that combine the best qualities of engineering degrees, the masters of fine arts, and the traditional masters of arts / science and doctor of philosophy. These programs would combine methods course work in how to acquire, manipulate, distribute, and archive digital media, with tradition theory and research courses, capped by a unique thesis or dissertation that was a valid research effort in digital social sciences. I see these programs offering a unique route for visual media holders of M.F.A degrees to enter into the social sciences, and for traditional research degree holders to develop a study that included digital media into their methodologies.
The Post Graduate Certificate in Digital Social Sciences
One of the most important aspects of Digital Social Sciences will be to get training in advanced media to established social scientists, audio artists, and visual artists who already hold advanced graduate degrees. In my experience, doctoral level learners who devote a working month to the techniques of digital social science can master the basics of the techniques, as long as they maintain a support structure to overcome technology issues. This month long, intensive learning situation would be the basis for a post graduate certificate in digital social sciences. Programs would be offered in the summer as intensive residential experiences, and would probably come in two styles, one for trained social scientists and another for experienced visual and auditory artists. The programs would teach how to acquire, manipulate, distribute, and archive digital media, and how to apply these skills to social science research.
Equipment, Faculty, Space, and Dedication
Digital social sciences will require four factors for success. Since technology, in the form video cameras, digital still cameras, audio recorders, and computers, will be essential to the teaching of courses and for research by people in a digital social sciences program, the program will have to have a technology budget for the acquisition and maintenance of production tools. The program will have to have flexible faculty who can be both social scientist and digital arts pedagogues, as well as associated faculty who can add breadth to what will likely be a small, multi-talented faculty. The nature of research oriented program will also require space. This space will be needed for nonlinear editors used to cut ethnographic videos, space to store digital camera kits, and space for group differential analysis of visual media. Finally, a program such as this will need dedication. As with any boundary crossing effort that is designed to both supplement traditional power groups in academia and support them in a new area of understanding, digital social science programs will need faculty and staff who can talk to people from a wide range of disciplines, and who can discuss with equal ability the ethics of visual representations of people living in lesser developed countries and the best way to develop and maintain a nonlinear editor cluster for academic use. In short, the dedication is about both sides of the equation stretching to come into the middle as masters of both areas of understanding.
One of the essential aspects of planning a digital social sciences program is the connections with other areas of campus. Digital social scientists need to network their computers, and have access to servers with web page hosting capability. They will often need to post videos and images to the Internet in ways that will shock thrifty IT departments more used to e-mail traffic and file sharing. Digital social scientists will also more than likely buck the trend to using PCs on campus by adopting the cheaper to operate and easier to teach Macintosh platform currently used by many visual studies and art programs. Likewise, computer labs will need security arrangements (swipe cards are my favorite to allow maximum access with maximum security) a process of checking in and out video, audio, and still image equipment, and plans for maintaining equipment that has been purchased. In the past decade I have had administrators ask me why computers need air conditioning (larger ones tend to break down if it gets to hot to often), why a new video camera was needed (the old one was 13 years old and used the VHS tape format), why students needed to leave the campus with expensive equipment (because a student with a camera in the world community is exciting, and offers the potential for amazing learning experiences) and why students needed 24/7 access to facilities (less idle time means less equipment is needed to serve more students, since some students (especially residential undergraduates) will always work late night if given the chance.) I have worked with libraries to store and maintain thesis materials in digital form, worked with campus museum staff writing grants to digitize collections, and worked with local historical societies to find employment for my students who wanted to do digital research from their archives. Above all other factors in establishing digital social science programs, the key members of the faculty and staff that support it will require dedication to the goal, and the ability to communicate that goal to a wide audience.
The goal of digital humanities is to allow valid social science research access to the digital tools now causing so many changes in how society communicates. No matter how it is applied, from integrating social science research into undergraduate journalism courses to offering ethnographers and oral historians new tools for research at the post graduate level, the end goal is to create a generation of people who can use the new tools offered by digital media in a though provoking and creative way.