In the Koln dialogues on the Digital Humanities, Domenico Fiormonte posted a provocative discussion of the Anglo-American character of much of the Digital Humanities scholarly infrastructure.
The bit that caused the most immediate stir—photos showed up on Twitter even while Domenico was speaking in Koln—was his chart of people holding multiple board and editorial positions in DH organisations:
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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?
Abstract: Is there a text in this edition? On the implications of multiple media and immersive technology for the future of the “scholarly edition.”Posted: November 14, 2012 By Daniel Paul O’Donnell, University of Lethbridge, James Graham, University of Lethbridge, Catherine Karkov, University of Leeds, Roberto Rosselli Del Turco, Università degli studi di Torino. To be read November 23, 2012 European Society for Textual Scholarship, Amsterdam. In the last decade, advances in technology have taken the edition out of the library. Where there […]
Call for Papers: Cultural, Textual, and Material Heritage in the Digital Age: Projects and PracticesPosted: August 20, 2012 The twentieth International Medieval Congress, Leeds, 1-4 July 2013 The rise of the Digital Humanities as an international, cross-disciplinary approach to humanistic scholarship presents exciting new challenges and opportunities. Perhaps one of the most exciting of these is the convergence of interest among textual editors, art historians, archaeologists, museum and library curatorial staff, government agencies, […]
A great statement today in Slate by Siva Vaidhyanathan about the value of public research:
We Americans take these institutions for granted. We assume that private enterprise generates what is so casually called “innovation” all by itself. It does not. The Web browser you are using to read this essay was invented at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The code that makes this page possible was invented at a publicly funded academic research center in Switzerland. That search engine you use many times a day, Google, was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation to support Stanford University. You didn’t get polio in your youth because of research done in the early 1950s at Case Western Reserve. California wine is better because of the University of California at Davis. Hollywood movies are better because of UCLA. And your milk was not spoiled this morning because of work done at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
These things did not just happen because someone saw a market opportunity and investors and inventors rushed off to meet it. That’s what happens in business-school textbooks. In the real world, we roll along, healthy and strong, in the richest nation in the world because some very wise people decided decades ago to invest in institutions that serve no obvious short-term purpose. The results of the work we do can take decades to matter—if at all. Most of what we do fails. Some succeeds. The system is terribly inefficient. And it’s supposed to be that way.
Along the way, we share some time and energy with brilliant and ambitious young people from around the world.
Important to realise this is also a selective list. Other things generated in whole or in part by publicly funded researchers and institutions include Unicode and XML.
Can anybody think of others?
Here’s a (slightly modified for coherence’s sake) deck from the talk prepared by Gillian Ayers and me for the Canadian Association of Learned Journals meeting in Waterloo ON on May 27, 2012.
For most of the last century, university researchers have been evaluated on their ability to “write something and get it into print… ‘publish or perish’” (as Logan Wilson put it as early as 1942 in The Academic Man: A Study in the Sociology of a Profession, one of the first print citations of the term).
As you might expect, the development of a reward system built on publication led to a general increase in number of publications.