“DH creates the chance to re-create, re-present, and re-interpret”

Ravinithesh Annapureddy is a second-year student in EPFL's DH master program © Ravinithesh Annapureddy

Ravinithesh Annapureddy is a second-year student in EPFL's DH master program © Ravinithesh Annapureddy

Ravinithesh Annapureddy is a second-year student in the Master of Science in Digital Humanities (DH Master) program, offered by the Digital Humanities Institute (DHI) in EPFL’s College of Humanities. As part of the DHI’s ‘Student stories’ series, Ravinithesh describes his experience in the program, and what inspired him to enter this exciting emerging interdisciplinary field.

Ravinithesh Annapureddy earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering at the Mahindra Ecole Centrale in Hyderabad, India, before working for two years in Tokyo as a data scientist. As part of his DH Master, Ravinithesh has recently started an internship at Paris’s National Institute of Art History, within the framework of the research program Richelieu: Histoire du quartier. He is curating data from the city’s historical directory, and will eventually migrate it to a public data repository.

Ravinithesh emphasizes that the common conception of digital humanities (DH) as the humanities viewed through a computer science lens “is only half the story.” “The other half, which I feel lacks prominence, is viewing computer science technologies through a humanities prism,” he says.

CDH DHI: Why did you choose the DH Master program at EPFL?

Ravinithesh Annapureddy: I have been interested in the humanities for a long time; especially in media, and social and political science. While I had to pursue engineering in computer science for my bachelor's, I also took all the social sciences and humanities courses offered at the university.

The DH Master program at EPFL was a perfect opportunity to bring together things that are close to my heart (i.e., the humanities) and those close to my brain (computer science) that I learned and practiced as a data scientist. EPFL leads research in this field, and Switzerland is a beautiful place to live.

CDH DHI: What have you found most interesting about the DH master program so far, and what have you found most challenging?

RA: The wide range of fields that were introduced with a variety of courses has been an interesting aspect for me, as well as the project-based assessment in all the courses, which gives students a chance to explore our interests.

The challenging part has been coming to grips with concepts in courses like Digital Musicology. I have never had any kind of education in music and it was difficult for me to get started. Although I started the course hesitantly, by the end, I had grown incredibly interested in applying computational methods to questions in music.

CDH DHI: What surprised you most about studying digital humanities?

RA: When working with data, it can be easy to just start looking at the numbers. This might work in some cases, but certainly not with humanities data, which have multiple layers: the activity that creates the data; recording, storing, and transferring the data; consulting the data as a researcher, etc. Thus, it is extremely important to obtain not only numerical results, but also the interpretation and rendition of the data through these layers.

CDH DHI: If you wanted future students to know one thing about digital humanities as a research field, what would it be?

RA: Digital humanities is growing as a field of its own, and many branches of humanities like social and political science, media, and linguistics are coming under its purview. Digital humanities therefore brings recent technological advances to some of the oldest academic disciplines, and this creates a novel chance to re-create, re-present, and re-interpret.