Interview with Alex Gil on practicing the Digital Humanities globallyPosted: January 11, 2013
The interview is far-ranging and there is a surprising amount of useful stuff here given the genre–it is a jam packed interview–about old and new approaches to humanities research, relationship between scholars and librarians in the new technologies, and how to set up a digital centre.
My favorite bit, however, comes at the end, where Alex gives some great tips about getting in the New Globalisation:
EP: Finally, what strategies would you recommend to scholars (in academic institutions or not) interested in contributing to an international public scholarly culture?
AG: Start collaborating with someone who lives very far away from you. We have great tasks ahead of us. If remediating our archive responsibly is our most pressing need, as I argue above, then we have a great opportunity to collaborate on digitization projects that transcend boundaries. The rule, rather than the exception, archives are usually scattered. This creates many opportunities for us to build bridges between communities. At the moment I am involved in the Global Outlook DH initiative, a brand new Special Interest Group of the ADHO.
Our shared goal is to shed more light on the state of our global union and build bridges whenever possible. We are just starting out, but we hope to foster precisely those forms of shared archive building and playing that will lead to a global public scholarly culture. We have already started making wonderful progress in Cuba, where next year we will host the second THATCampCaribe. In the summer we hope to roll out Around DH in 80 Days, a tour of digital scholarship and curation around the world. I see other groups making great efforts to truly go beyond the rich countries: HASTAC and 4Humanities, to name two of the most visible ones. For these reasons and more, I predict this will be a year of many breakthroughs for digital scholarship on a global key.
The Internet was a blank slate at some point. Now it’s quickly becoming the dominant image of our cultural heritage. When it comes to the narratives we tell about our cultural and political history, at least in the West, in this our new mirror, we have an image that takes us back to canonical ideas of the West that have long been undermined in the Gutenberg galaxy. If the image of a shared cultural heritage is to be a non-hegemonic, honest reflection of ourselves, we must understand we are at heart working on a shared archive. True international collaboration around digitization and the play that they enable is a sine-qua-non of this archive. If I’m right, I hope the question on everyone’s mind will be not if, but who are you collaborating with?