What is Digital Scholarship?


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Presentation to NY6 consortium, delivered at Union College in January, 2013.

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What is Digital Scholarship?

  1. 1. What  is  digital  scholarship?   Gardner  Campbell   Virginia  Tech   www.gardnercampbell.net  
  2. 2. Today’s  Hashtag   #ny6digs  
  3. 3. The  world  has  arrived  at  an  age  of  cheap  complex  devices  of  great  reliability;  and  something  is  bound  to  come  of  it.  Vannevar  Bush,  “As  We  May  Think,”  Atlan&c  Monthly,  July,  1945  
  4. 4. George  Dyson,  Turing’s  Cathedral:  The  Origins  of  the  Digital  Universe    
  5. 5. Our  Shared  Reality,  2013        “We  are  living  in  the  middle   of  the  largest  increase  in   expressive  capability  in  the   history  of  the  human  race.”          Clay  Shirky,  Here  Comes  Everybody  (2008)   7  
  6. 6. Accessed  January,  2013  
  7. 7. Fellow  scholars,    I  read  this  in  todays  Guardian  about  two  "culturomics"  researchers  at  Harvard  who  are  using  Google  data  and  $  to  study  the  English  language  "genome":    "In  their  inibal  analysis  of  the  database,  the  team  found  that  around  8,500  new  words  enter  the  English  language  every  year  and  the  lexicon  grew  by  70%  between  1950  and  2000.  But  most  of  these  words  do  not  appear  in  dicbonaries.  "We  esbmated  that  52%  of  the  English  lexicon  –  the  majority  of  words  used  in  English  books  –  consist  of  lexical  dark  mafer  undocumented  in  standard  references,"  they  wrote  in  the  journal  Science  (the  full  paper  is  available  with  free  online  registrabon)."    Lets  talk  a  bit  about  terms  like  "culturomics"  and  "genome"  and  the  apparent  need  to  sound  like  a  scienbst  (a  wacky  scienbst  at  that)  in  order  to  be  taken  seriously  by  the  media  and  govt  grant  dispensers  these  days.  
  8. 8. “It  may  be  learning,  but  it’s  not  academics.”  
  9. 9. Module  Objecbves  As  a  result  of  working  through  this  module,  students  will:  •  Idenbfy  themselves  as  public  intellectuals  and   change  agents,  •  Demonstrate  willingness  and  ability  to  pursue   complexity,  depth,  mulbple  contexts/ perspecbves,  and  nuance  in  their  individual   thinking,  social  processes,  and  discursive   products,  •  Employ  self-­‐defined,  inquiry-­‐driven  learning,   analysis,  cribcal  thinking,  and  reflecbon….  
  10. 10. Blogging  (15%):  One  of  the  key  aspects  of  your  work  this  semester  is  our  course  blog,  on  which  you’ll  write  frequently,  using  your  posts  to  respond  to  our  course  readings,  to  draw  your  classmates’  afenbon  to  arbcles  and  arbfacts  you’ve  found,  and  so  forth.  You  are  required  to  post  at  least  one  entry  each  week,  which  should  directly  engage  with  the  week’s  readings,  before  the  start  of  class  on  Monday;  this  entry  should  be  as  formal  as  a  printed  reading  response  would  be,  paying  afenbon  to  the  quotabon,  citabon,  and  explicabon  pracbces  involved  in  close  reading.  Other  entries  are  greatly  desired;  these  can  be  as  informal  as  you  like….  This  weekly  requirement  is  meant  as  a  minimum  acceptable  level  of  parbcipabon;  I  hope  that  you’ll  all  contribute  more,  creabng  an  ongoing,  engaging  dialogue.  
  11. 11. Beware   Administered  Intellectuality   We  should  always  be  wary  of  the  imperial  impulse—the  possibility  that  any  interest  in  mentalibes  is  betrayed  by  a  ...  preexistent  interest  in  maintaining  and  jusbfying  a  structure  of  privileges.    James  Fernandez,   Edificabon  by  Puzzlement  (1980)  hfp://home.uchicago.edu/~jwf1/Puzzlement.pdf  
  12. 12. No  one  knows  what  it  would  do  to  a  creabve  brain  to  think  creabvely  conbnuously.  Perhaps  the  brain,  like  the  heart,  must  devote  most  of  its  bme  to  rest  between  beats.  But  I  doubt  that  this  is  true.  I  hope  it  is  not,  because  [interacbve  computers]  can  give  us  our  first  look  at  unfefered  thought.  J.C.R.  Licklider,  “Computers  in  the  University,”    in  Computers  and  the  World  of  the  Future,  1962.  
  13. 13. We’re  sbll  in  the  early  days  of  understanding  how  to  amplify  collecbve  intelligence.  It’s  telling  that  many  of  the  best  tools  we  have—tools  such  as  blogs,  wikis,  and  online  forums—weren’t  invented  by  the  people  we  might  suppose  are  the  experts  on  group  behavior  and  intelligence,  experts  from  fields  such  as  group  psychology,  sociology,  and  economics.  Instead,  they  were  invented  by  amateurs,  people  such  as  Maf  Mullenweg,  who  was  a  19-­‐year-­‐old  student  when  he  created  Wordpress,  one  of  the  most  popular  types  of  blogging  sowware,  and  Linus  Torvalds,  who  was  a  21-­‐year-­‐old  student  when  he  created  the  open  source  Linux  operabng  system.  That  tells  us  we  should  be  wary  of  current  theory:  while  we  can  learn  a  great  deal  from  exisbng  academic  studies,  the  picture  of  collecbve  intelligence  that  emerges  is  also  incomplete.