Digital Ecologies?

Last week’s inaugural meeting of the Boston Digital Humanities (now renamed New England Digital Humanities) group was convened by Zach Davis, who introduced us–a diverse group of librarians, artists, teachers, translators, students, and other professionals–to DH concepts, grounded in Todd Presner’s DH Manifesto (2.0), where Presner describes a second wave of DH that is  “qualitative, interpretive, experiential, emotive, generative in character.”

Though there’s much (much!) left to do in the 1.0 phase of digitizing and making available resources and data sets as openly as possible, it’s exciting to see the people (at 91 members in a couple of weeks and still growing) and the diversity of interest in a fairly informally assembled meeting.

I thought myself a bit of an outlier there, mainly because of the bridges I am trying to build between the environmental and experiential scholarship of my home institution. But the experience also helped to focus some of my thinking on the relevance of Digital Humanities to our curriculum and ask the question (as I posed last week):

How can the intersection of technology, humanities, and ecological thinking yield new models of learning, research, creative endeavor that model a dynamic knowledge ecosystem?

While I was talking with a friend and colleague this morning about just such bridge building, she brought some of my more esoteric technological ideas back to earth and articulated, simply, that “knowledge without action isn’t really worthwhile.” This is at the root of our college’s mission, and of my own teaching philosophy–yet I continue to seek ways that technology can help make connections between knowledge and action in a meaningful and lasting way.

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