Information Sharing

In Chapter 3 of Digital_Humanities authors Burdick, Drucker, Lunenfeld, Presnet, and Schnapp, consider “The Social Life of the Digital Humanities.” This idea encompasses a wide variety of themes including publishing, authorship, and legitimation of information. Within these themes arises the essential question: What happens when anyone can speak and publish? What happens when knowledge credentialing is no longer controlled solely by institutions of higher learning? This question is a complex one, with significant potential positives as well as risks. To begin, I want to expound upon the risks that the article considers of a community in which anyone can publish information without the accreditation of higher learning institutions.
Today, being able to determine the credibility of information seems more critical than ever before. As the chapter discusses, social technology with more authors and information does not equate to the promotion of democratic values. For one, this emerging social technology has the potential to be used as a conduit for social control. This issue encompasses all social technologies with limited regulations and, as the 2018 elections demonstrate, have yet to be adequately addressed. Going hand and hand with this issue, when anyone can speak and publish it can become more difficult to differentiate between what is real and what is not. The ivory tower is inherently problematic, historically limiting authorship to white, men and limiting the flow of information to an “academic elite circle.” Keeping this in minds, information being regulated by higher institutions and peer review did reassure the credibility of the information.
On the flip side, the digital humanities also offers a diversity of perspectives previously restricted from information sharing as they fell outside the walls of the ivory tower. This is particularly important for “reach and relevance” of the digital humanities in addition to what the authors call “decolonizing knowledge.” While platforms that support diversity are more of a lofty goal than present reality, this concrete goal is consistent with the core values of the digital humanities. Furthermore, unlike traditional humanities, the digital humanities invites those voices that were once excluded from the conversation to not only participate in active discourse but also to collaborate and further expand the field. Changing the notion of whose voice matters will broaden the range of information available as well as the audience attuned to the humanities.
Overall, I would contend that the value of expanding authorship and publication far outweighs the risk and offers an exciting future for the humanities as a developing field. The humanities cannot remain limited to a select group, representing only a tiny proportion of the population and their experiences. This emphasized, the inherent dangers of the digital humanities must not only be acknowledged, but methods to combat these pitfalls must be deeply considered. Acknowledging that legitimation is a problem in the field is not enough without responding with potential solutions.
– Michaela