Beginning of class: The traditional studies in the humanities layered with digital tools that enhance the ability to collaborate and to share scholarship but also that contributes to the field of study in a meaningful/relevant way.
End of class: I haven’t framed it properly yet, but it’s active. My definition before class has too many infinitives and weak verbs. I think maybe the digital humanities needs to have active participation. Maybe it’s about actively engaging with the resources and the texts through digital tools.
I feel like in “traditional” humanities studies, there’s quite a bit of passive engagement with the text. You read it, yes. But it doesn’t have the ability to act on you in any way (yes, it can cause some sort of intense reaction, but how often does that happen really, especially when we’re teaching first year writing?) nor do you have the ability to act on it. We can, as English professors love to say, rip the text up and analyze it, but we don’t do anything to the text. It’s still there on the pages as it was before. There seems to be an element of interaction that in some way changes either the object or the viewer in some way. Still thinking, but I’m sticking with the word active.
I got into work today and my computer would not turn on.
I called our IT department who informed me that a number of people were experiencing the same problem. In other words, don’t expect to turn the computer on any time before noon.
I pulled up an email on my blackberry and sent the following email to my team:
“Computer’s dead. I’m useless. Will let you know when back online.”
The anticipated responses of “oh man that sucks” and the queries of “can IT help?” floated in. The red light flashed on my blackberry alerting me to the messages I was receiving. But what good were message I couldn’t respond to?
I could hit reply. But without access to my files and data and documents, I couldn’t respond in a meaningful way.
One colleague emailed me: “Guess you’re the coffee bitch today.”
Because really, without my computer, all I could do was go get the coffee.
I’m a writer and editor on a marketing team for a law firm. In theory, my job does not require the computer. I have documents that I can read in paper form and that I can have at with a pen to give feedback and proofreading marks.
If inspiration for a paper or blog post or brochure text strikes, why, I can just pick up the same pen and a clean sheet of paper and start writing.
But I couldn’t. I couldn’t pick up the pen because I couldn’t get passed one question: What’s the point?
If I couldn’t share the writing quickly and easily with my team then what would the point in writing it?
It made me laugh actually, how crippled I was by my loss of a computer.
I wanted to write this post before class, but of course, sans computer, I couldn’t write it and I couldn’t share it with you all.
But this experience and the discussion in class tonight got me thinking about how interconnected life (work included as a part of life) has become with technology. I think my word choice, looking back on my email, was quite telling.
Useless. Without the computer I felt useless, but also to my coworkers, I was kind of useless. I couldn’t contribute to the tasks at hand.
All I could do was get the coffee. One soy latte, one caramel frappucino, one iced coffee…