The quote above comes from a short interview with Laura Braunstein who is the Digital Humanities and English Librarian at the Dartmouth College Library. Something shifted a bit inside me as I read this, as if to say, “Maybe I am one of these folks,too.”
Braunstein defines her role in this relatively new discipline as :
That definitely clicks for me. I have always considered myself a learning concierge. I love the working class, democratic appeal of asking the question, “How can I help you?”
I get no deeper satisfaction in my work as a writing instructor than providing directions to cool, clean, safe watering holes to my learners. And I am always looking for new resources, new oases.
I love to collaborate. That is something I have had to grow to love. I think the best piece of advice I ever got on this subject was from Alan Levine: if you can’t answer a question after 20 minutes of trying, then find help. To me this means finding a collaborator. A co-laborer. This very broad definition of collaboration is one that I am comfortable with.
A faculty colleague who I really respect has asked me to collaborate with her graduate students in our Writing Center at Western Kentucky University as a digital humanist. She may not know that is what she asked for and is getting, but I am very grateful she asked and truly excited to co-labor with her and her students. It is quite likely that I will get more out of it than they will. In fact, the selfish part of me counts on it.
I am a promoter, too, just as Braunstein says she is. I promote a point of view that is relentlessly pragmatic as regards tools: if it doesn’t help my co-laborers seek, make sense of, and share with better effect at that “intersection of technology and human culture” then fuggetaboutit.
Identity mystifies me. One minute I am a writing instructor and the next I am a digital humanist. I feel a shift in stance. And with this shift comes slightly new views, new blindspots, new desires. If I am very lucky, I will be able to smoothly glide from one outlook (instructor) to another (digital humanist).
What a difference taking a few minutes in the morning to slip on a new set of goggles for viewing the world, a virtual set, programmed by me and not someone else.
Thanks to Laura Braunstein and her interviewer, Joshua Kim. I want to know more about Digital Humanities so I am going here. You come, too.