Boston Digital Humanities meetup: no bloodshed, just snacks

One of the things that has me excited to be an internet-extroverted know-it-all again is the Boston Digital Humanities (soon-to-be New England Digital Humanities, I believe) meetup I attended Tuesday.

There are a lot of digital humanities groups around, but the point Zach Davis made was that the Boston area has both the humanities resources and the technical skills to form a really powerful digital humanities community. Zach’s presentation was a great overview – for some people there it was a first introduction to digital humanities, and for some it was a review.

For me the most interesting part of the evening was listening to everyone their introduce themselves, what their interests are, and what interests them about the digital humanities conversation – a great moment of looking around and thinking “these are smart people and they are all so much more than their job descriptions.” Many of them qualified their introductions by mentioning that they didn’t think they belonged there, even though after they talked about themselves a little there was a rousing chorus proclaiming that they obviously did.

A fight did sort of brew around the issue of the influence of technology on culture, specifically younger generations; I maintain that it’s a perspective thing, and that if you look at technology from the right angle there’s incredible potential, much of it only being realized once it’s already being practiced. But, I understand that from another perspective, technology – specifically the occasional k-hole of internet content – might look destructive, or at least a frightening distraction. I think it depends on the looker’s definition of valuable interaction.

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2 thoughts on “Boston Digital Humanities meetup: no bloodshed, just snacks

  1. It was a great meeting. I went in not quite knowing what to expect and came out with lots of things to think about. Definitely one of those thinking I might not fully belong there. But really, who doesn’t belong there? We all have a stake in the future of technology and learning. I believe that is a big selling point on this project.

    I agree with your last paragraph. I get frustrated with the for it/against it debate. Someone brought up the idea of having a conversation about how technology is changing not only the way we get and distribute information, but also the way we are changing as humans in order to accommodate it. To me, I think the latter is a much more interesting discussion. I am of the attitude that whether you like it or not, this is the way the next generation is growing up. It is quite curmudgeonly to dig in a refuse to adapt simply because we prefer something the way it was (usually whatever we have grown up with!). Technology is here to stay, so we better deal with it and figure out what that means for how we learn and interact with each other. In the end, I am excited most by getting this discussion started. I hope it can move to a wider audience, whatever ends up happening specifically with this project.

    • I think “curmudgeonly” is exactly the right word for it; “fearful” might be another version of the same. I would go one step further than asking people to deal with it and ask them to start seeing some of the benefits, or at least to start looking at it differently in order to see some potential, even if it’s not being fulfilled. I guess I’m most excited about this discussion too!!!

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