The Scholars’ Lab at the University of Virginia has posted audio recordings of sessions from “The Humanities in a Digital Age,” a symposium that took place in November at UVA’s new Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures. My keynote at the symposium was entitled “Humanities Scholars and the Web: Past, Present, Future,” and focused on what I believe are three critical elements of the web that scholars tend to overlook, or that cause concern because they upset certain academic conventions:
1) The openness and standards of the web produce generative platforms. The magic of the web is that from relatively simple technical specifications and interoperability arise an incredibly varied and constantly innovative set of genres. For those wedded to traditional forms such as the book and article, this can be difficult to understand and accept.
2) Interfaces shape genres. Tracing the history of web applications used to make blogs, from early link aggregators to the blank page of WordPress 3′s full-screen writing environment, shows this in action. Humanities blogs shifted in helpful ways over the last 15 years, into modes that should be more acceptable to the academy, as these interfaces changed. Being in control of these interfaces is important as we continue to develop online scholarship.
3) Communities define practice. Conventions around web genres are created by those participating in them. This has serious implications for what the academy might be able to do with the web in the future.
You can hear about these three main points and much more in the talk, which is available as a podcast or audio stream near the bottom of this page. Part of the talk comes from chapter 1 of The Ivory Tower and the Open Web.
The flawed launch of Google Buzz, with its privacy nightmare of exposing the social graph of one’s email account, makes me, Tom, Mills, and Amanda French consider the major issue of online privacy on this week’s Digital Campus podcast. Covering several stories, including Facebook attacks on teachers and teachers spying on students, we think about the ways in which technology enables new kinds of violations on campus—and what we should do about it. [Subscribe to this podcast.]
For the past few months I’ve neglected to reblog in this space the availability of fresh new Digital Campus podcasts for your listening pleasure. Below is a list of the major topics of each of those episodes—if you’re new to the podcast, pick one that sounds interesting and give it a listen. Or just subscribe to the podcast to have fresh episodes delivered automatically to iTunes or your favorite podcatcher.
Important changes have arrived in this span of podcasts as well. After being the “show runner” for the first fifty episodes (doing the voice-overs and guiding the discussion in my best impression of a late-night jazz host), the other regulars on the podcast, Tom Scheinfeldt and Mills Kelly, will assume these duties (along with me) on a rotating basis starting with Digital Campus #51, “The Inevitable iPad.” In addition, we’ve been joined by a rotation of “irregulars” who greatly liven up the proceedings and actually have intelligent things to say.
Episode 51 – The Inevitable iPad: Inevitably, we obsess over what the iPad means for academia, museums, and libraries.
Episode 50 – The Crystal Ball Returns: Our popular year-end/beginning-of-the-year wrap-up and predictions of what’s to come.
Episode 49 – The Twouble with Twecklers: Twitter at academic conferences; speeding up the web.
Episode 48 – Balkanization of the Web?: The revised Google Books settlement; News Corp. v. Google; Wikipedia in its maturity.
Episode 47 – Publishers Bleakly: As publishing business models erode, we look at new models in their infancy.
Episode 46 – Theremin Dreams: How people adopt new technologies; Nook; Droid.
This week’s podcast looks at the fake, the real, the copies, and the bizarre: fake journals from Elsevier, the MPAA telling teachers to film their TVs, the University of Michigan asking for real uses for its copies of Google’s book scans, and Wolfram Alpha’s use of sources. Mills and I also give Tom a parenting quiz appropriate to the digital age. [Subscribe to this podcast.]
OK, don’t get too excited by the title. Actually, do get excited if you want a freewheeling discussion of possible futures and business models (thus the title) for academic publishing. That’s just part of the roundtable chatter this time on the podcast. [Subscribe to this podcast.]
Wondering what the Great Recession means for the use of technology in higher ed and at cultural institutions around the globe? We tackle that issue on this episode of the Digital Campus podcast, looking at possible impacts like an even greater use of free web apps, cheap netbooks, podcasting, and distance education. As always, you can join in the discussion at DigitalCampus.tv. [Subscribe to this podcast.]
Although we covered the topic in depth in 2007 on Digital Campus #16, we simply had to revisit the idea—and the reality—of e-books on the latest episode of the podcast given interesting new developments. With the launch of the Kindle 2 and the mobile version of Google Book Search (which yours truly nailed as a prediction on Digital Campus #35), Tom, Mills, and I once again debate the merits of electronic books. And through the magic of podcasting, we are able to talk with our former selves via flashbacks. We also cry crocodile tears over the demise of Ruckus and Juicy Campus, look at history in Google Earth 5, and discuss YouTube’s new licensing and download functionality. Plus, as always, our picks for useful sites, reading, and software. [Subscribe to this podcast.]
As a follow-up to earlier discussions of Smithsonian 2.0, the Digital Campus crew tackle the thorny question of how to bring museums online in this episode‘s feature story. Can the reverence for physical objects carry over into the digital realm? We’re lucky to be joined on the podcast by the Center for History and New Media‘s Director of Public Projects, Sharon Leon, who has done extensive work with the Smithsonian on projects such as The Object of History. We also discuss the impact of a possible new moderation policy on Wikipedia, Creative Commons on the White House website, Gmail going offline, and how we can all get a piece of the giant U.S. economic stimulus package. Another profitable Digital Campus podcast—give it a listen. [Subscribe to this podcast.]
If you haven’t been to the Digital Campus website in a while you might want to take a peek at our snazzy new design for 2009, courtesy of Jeremy Boggs. Along with the new site, we have our first podcast of the new year, chock full of news and views. We talk a lot about Twitter (you can now follow me there as well as on this blog, and you can also follow the podcast on Twitter), as well as e-books, mobile platforms, Google Notebook, Wikipedia, Europeana, and…Stevie Wonder. Take a listen, and subscribe in the new year to get all of our podcasts automatically delivered to your iTunes.
Kudos to the Journal of American History for their launch this week of a podcast. In the inaugural “JAHcast,” John Nieto-Phillips speaks with James Meriwether about his article, “Worth a Lot of Negro Votes’: Black Voters, Africa, and the 1960 Presidential Campaign.” The podcast is put together well. It has relatively good sound quality (always critical for podcasts; bad sound quality repels audiences faster than bad web design), it’s open access (anyone can subscribe via iTunes), and most of all, it contains interesting subject matter for our times.
You will be unsurprised to hear (given a certain other podcast) that I think more scholarly journals and organizations should be podcasting like this. It’s a great way to build an audience and add context to print publications. It would be great for the JAH to add other kinds of podcasts, such as panels from the annual meeting and wider-ranging discussions or debates (rather than focusing on a single article). But a great first step.