New Ideas for Old Systems

Kathleen Fitzpatrick begins the introduction of Planned Obsolescence with quote by Clay Shirky: “The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place.”

I love this quote because it addresses an ever-present issue in the Digital Humanities: there will always be broken systems, and there will always be new tools that can help us improve them. This mindset (and the sense of adventure and experimentation that seems to come with it) is one thing I’ve really enjoyed about the Digital Praxis Seminar at the GC. It is not always easy to have this mindset, of course. It requires that we be honest with ourselves about what is not working, even if (or especially if) it has been this way for a long time.

Although no one has yet worked out all the kinks of a digital system of peer-review, Kathleen cited numerous projects and individuals (not the least of which being her work with Media Commons) that are tackling the issue head on. Perhaps we don’t have a perfect solution yet, but let’s get to work and come up with one!

I’ll end with a quote by one of my favorite artists and thinkers, John Cage: “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”