Cat in the Stax: Spotify Wrapped and the Digital Humanities
By Ethan Shea
Last Wednesday was a big day for people who love to overshare.
That’s right, it’s Spotify Wrapped season! For the uninitiated (and Apple Music listeners), Spotify Wrapped is an annual recap of listening habits that Spotify sends to every user at the end of the year. This time around, there was greater focus on what your music reveals about your personality. Spotify wants the raw numbers we receive to teach us something about ourselves.
As much as I enjoy analyzing my annually released statistics, there’s something deeply personal about these numbers. How is this possible? What does my 58,293 minutes of music streaming say about me? Presumably a lot according to this article.
Everyone is much more than a collection of numbers, but focusing on data is helpful even in the humanities. For me, the overwhelming interest in Spotify Wrapped feels similar to the growing interest in the digital humanities.
The digital humanities, according to Falvey’s Digital Scholarship/Digital Humanities Subject Guide, “is an area of research, collaboration, teaching, and creation concerned with the intersection of computing, digital technologies, and humanities scholarship.”
Just as Spotify attempts to reveal information about our complex personalities through listening data, the digital humanities provides a new perspective of subjective literary texts. For example, what does it mean that James Joyce uses the capitalized word “National” in Ulysses eleven times but the same word in lowercase twenty times? With statistics provided by the digital humanities, readers have even more questions to ponder!
If you would like to learn more about the digital humanities, in addition to our subject guide, you can find the Digital Scholarship Lab in Room 218A at Falvey. The Lab is open by reservation-only, so make sure to book a visiting time in advance!
Ethan Shea is a graduate student in the English Department at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.
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