A Community of Practice

When I thought of doing research this summer, the thought of community was not close to my mind. I pictured myself sitting alone somewhere doing work, not engaging a great deal with other people. When I got settled in this fellowship, I realized how important our community of practice really is. While there are a great many ways in which we still have to take responsibility for our own work, there are always people to catch us when we fall, and encourage us to move forward through our research.

Being thrown into living with the people that I’m working with this summer has taught me a great deal about valuing community. When we’re at the library doing our work, we inevitably come across frustrations in our research. But when we got home for the night, we are able to distress with people who are going through precisely the same thing. When I get excited by an idea, I know to go tell my fellow cohorts to test it out on them and get some feedback. Living and working with the same people creates a system of support that offers empathy in so many circumstances.

Of course, it is so helpful to have the research partners in the library as well. When we are able to interact with people who have been working in the DH field for longer than we have, we are able to hear their knowledge. The task set before me would be a daunting one if I did not have Clint and the rest of the librarians to offer guidance when I started to lose hope. I think in terms of the library, our sharing session on Friday really showcased the value of our community here. I had spoken to a few of my fellow students about feeling drained last week and struggling to stay motivated. A couple of us mentioned this in our session, and all the librarians agreed. Being apart of this community means that we are not alone but instead we are able to share our emotions and our thoughts with people who will support us.

Through our sessions we have met other people at Gettysburg doing DH work. It has been interesting to see their projects and the range. We have Kolbe fellows who are more straight humanities oriented than our cohort, yet they are able to incorporate digital aspects to their projects. Then we have the DTSF’s whose projects are in the technology field. They are not doing humanities per say, but they are a part of of our community because often they come to our sessions to learn beside us. There are also faulty members who participate in our sessions and engage in conversation with us about the nuances of Digital Humanities.

Lastly, we were able to meet the fellows at Bucknell last week. While I wasn’t able to talk to all of them extensively, I was able to talk to a boy named Craig about his project. He was studying the way that the media portrays mental health issues and I thought his project was fascinating. It spurred a conversation amongst my table about this issue in society. I think we were in some ways able to give Craig some ideas that he may explore in his research.

Research seems like a rather individual and lonely practice, but when it is Digital Humanities research, the principles ring true and call for the importance of collaboration and openness throughout the community.

2 Replies to “A Community of Practice”

  1. Thanks for your comments. You hit a lot of the points about the value of doing DH in community, and that not everyone has to be doing the same thing, or even trying to solve the same problems, for there to be value in working together. I’m glad there’s enough comfort in this group that we can share when we are collectively tired, and that sometimes research and teaching can be tough. Also, experimentation in a collective space makes it a lot easier, since we’ve all tried and failed at things. I don’t know how many WordPress sites I’ve spun up just to try a new thing and share around.

    I do like that you brought up empathy, since that is really important to a program like this. I’m hoping at the Games + VR session that our guest speaker will be able to talk about his work with empathy in virtual spaces.

  2. This kind of community – one in which colleagues learn with and from one another – is one which I value greatly. Keep looking for this throughout your life. It is so important to have colleagues who will catch you if you fall… and help you not to fall in the first place! This has been so important to me at every stage of my career.

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