Friday, May 3, 2013


One of the things that the digital humanities is supposed to foster, as a number of articles in the last several issues of Profession note, is the exchange of ideas.  Scholarship promotes itself as being a venue for sharing knowledge and understanding, regardless of the medium, but digital versions thereof have the ability to reach broader audiences and to facilitate faster feedback than their print counterparts, as well as to permit asynchronous discussion and enduring potential for revision based upon the feedback received.  So "conventional wisdom" holds,* and so my own admittedly limited experience has shown.

I try to be a generator for some of that feedback.  On one blog I follow, Helen Young's Diverse Fictions, I make a point of offering comments in response to the author's posts.  From time to time, they have even been potentially helpful and productive conversations.  I can hope that I will benefit from similar commentaries on my own work.

If and when I ever get back to teaching, and teaching a class conducive to the idea, I think I will follow the practice I have seen some of my colleagues deploy and require my students to write their papers as blog entries.  I have had some practice in doing so, writing reflections and the occasional academic bit on this blog and another I maintain (if less well than this one), so I think I can speak from some situated ethos.  And, despite the protestations of many who claim that digital media are ruining writing in a way never before seen in the history of writing (which are inaccurate, I might add), there is much good writing on the Internet.

I entertain the conceit that I do some of it.

The assignment suggests itself as one suited to the continually-emergent digital environment and one likely to help students prepare for work; many of the job opportunities I have seen specifically ask for experience in blogging and other social media.  It allows for more flexible submission, permitting those students who have many other concerns (children and jobs) to be able to get their work done and turned in around their schedules.  Whether or not it is more environmentally-friendly than traditional submission, I am not sure.  But it might be, and that, too, is worth considering.

*I place the phrase in quotes because I am not entirely sure that digital scholarship has managed to develop conventions yet.  And convention should be questioned in any event.

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