Can anyone speak and publish?

When anyone can speak and publish, there is going to be a lot more work out there. Digital Humanities is a field in which, hypothetically, anyone who wants to is able to do research on their own, and put it out on the web for others to see. The article authored by Burdick et. all discusses this idea of what happens socially when the power of publishing does not belong to higher institutions. They posit this idealist picture of the world in which anyone who wants is able to contribute to the vast sea of knowledge in our society. Digital Humanities promises to take away the traditional modes whereby you must be in a University, and you must have grants etc., to be published. But I wonder if it’s really possible to get away from this.

This summer we were able to take this fellowship because we would be paid to do research. For many people, work without pay is not an option. And those who are paid to do research are people attached to universities. Furthermore, we went through extensive workshops in order to learn the digital tools that we used to create our projects. Would someone out from the confines of a university have this luxury? Of course, there are ways to research the tools and teach yourself, but it may be a little unrealistic to assume that someone would go to these lengths. The fact is, is that doing this research has been a privilege and one that has been afforded to me because I am a college student at an institution who cares about research.

I think when the authors write about the Digital Humanities opening up scholarship, it is more likely that this is the case for professors who don’t want to go through the process of publishing a paper on any given topic, or a student who wants to write a scholarly blog. But I don’t think that the DH has taken scholarship out of academics and institutions. Right now, it is difficult to have the time or the skillset without funding and teaching in order to create a digital project.

Ideally, someday there will be more of a chance for a digital project to be born without the help of a university or institution. Maybe someday technology will become so second nature that lack of experience will not hinder anyone. Then anyone will be able to create a digital project and put it out on the web for anyone to see. This reminds me of an idea that I write about in my project. The more stories we have from other people; the more chance we have to understand something other than ourselves. But sometimes, when there are so many stories, it becomes difficult for us to understand any cohesive narrative. We enjoy making categories and putting things into boxes. It will be a difficult task to recognize that boxes do not fit everything. If everyone has the ability to create and publish, then we will have a great deal of information that we attempt, probably unsuccessfully, to categorize. It will potentially challenge our entire view of humanity.

2 Replies to “Can anyone speak and publish?”

  1. Think about digital projects that come out of places other than academia that aren’t labelled “DH” but probably fit under that label. Since you mention using stories as a means to understand other experiences, how about StoryCorps? DH, or not DH?

  2. If you have time, read this:

    It addresses DH at community colleges, which often lack both the tech and research resources that places like Gettysburg have, but they still do really good work. It’s a different way of thinking about DH for sure, when it’s “non-traditional” (ugh) students with very limited resources. To be fair, higher education is still involved, but it’s a very different model. So there may be hope!

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