This year was my first ever experience of DHSI in Victoria, and it has been an awesome whirlwind of activities — meeting so many great people and participating in a lot of the colloquium and “Birds of a Feather” sessions. If I were to sum up the experience in a few words, it might be something like “excited conflict”. There is so much to see and do that it’s a little difficult not to become physically drained and mentally overloaded in just a couple days. Yet, at the end of the week, and even now, I find myself wanting to return for another heavy dose of the same, and wishing it was just a little bit longer.
I participated in The Sound of Digital Humanities course with Dr. John Barber, along with a few fellow colleagues I work with on a poetry archive project back at UBCO. Throughout the week, the course itself weaved through different focuses, and in between practicing basic editing in Audacity and GarageBand, there was much deep discussion about the nature of sound, theory, research, copyright, and the like. It is especially the latter discussion portion that I was keenly interested in, as we found that some others in the class were doing projects based on or around archives, and were tackling questions and concerns similar to what pertained to our project. It was an opportunity to not only listen and glean some greater insights from experts and generally brilliant minds, but to reciprocate it and impart some of my knowledge to others for application towards their own projects. The general atmosphere is… infectious enthusiasm: everyone is quick to offer their own valuable experiences and suggestions for solutions for others peoples’ projects — in some cases right down to the nitty-gritty technical details. In fact, come to think of it, it doesn’t stray too far from what you might find at a typical medium-sized gathering at a web development conference: some give talks on new cool techniques and technologies, and everyone is engaged in vigorous talk of theory and stories and jokes about working in the field, even over a couple pints at the pub. It was that kind of coming together and collaboration in our class (sans alcohol) which culminated with each of us putting a bit of ourselves into a sound collage representative of the broader aims of the Digital Humanities and our nuanced experiences in it. It was all at times (sometimes simultaneously) hilarious and poignant. Definitely not something I will forget any time soon.
In addition to meeting new acquaintances, the week was also a time of reunion, where I was able to reconnect with my colleagues on our poetry archive project. It was a helpful and fun time for us to “regroup” — to reflect on the project’s progress, and also come back with new energy in thinking about ways of moving forward, with the application of some of our discussions both in class and within the larger DHSI hub.. For me, Chris Friend’s presentation on crowd-sourced content creation and collaborative tools yielded wonderful points about the benefits and perils of using such a model pedagogically. It has made me more particularly sensitive to how pedagogical functions might be brought to our archive, and what designs we might create (both visually and technically) to accommodate that.
On a more personal front, attending DHSI (and by extension, learning about the Digital Humanities as a field this year) has solidified a deep sense of belonging for me through moments of glorious serendipity, if you will; of happening upon something fascinating at the end of a long wandering; of searching for a place to call my “intellectual” and “academic” home. It is a place that beautifully brings together my major pursuits of web development, literary theory/criticism, and music, and collectively articulates them as the makeup of “what I do”. It has been one of those somewhat rare “Ah-ha!” moments where you find something that you were looking for all along, but didn’t know quite what it was.
It’s been a wild ride, but one that I definitely want embark on again. My greatest thank yous, all of my friends and colleagues — old and new — for such a wonderful experience. I look forward to when I can return again for another week-long adventure and “geekfest”!
Keep it “robust” my friends.
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