crank it up
Recently I’ve been struck by that familiar sense of “so much to read, so little time.” Part of the problem is that my ‘periodicals’ have been piling up: The Walrus, Wired, the Saturday Globe & Mail, plus publications from OLA and ACRL. Never mind how behind I feel on my beloved Google Reader account. Oh, and I’m in a book club these days (just started reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks).
All of this to say that I only recently got around to reading the article “Film School” written by TED curator Chris Anderson in the January 2011 issue of Wired. Anderson suggests that the Internet — and specifically online video — provides the ideal environment for what he terms Crowd Accelerated Innovation.* He argues that online video allows for vastly larger communities of interest and dramatically increased visibility, stoked by the motivation factor of online recognition:
So crank up all three dials and, lo and behold, the wheel of Crowd Accelerated Innovation lurches into motion. Videos are posted. Comments fly. Views accumulate. Leaders emerge. And all this provokes a new round of innovation. In the process, everyone marvels. Everyone learns.
I agree that the role of online video is only just being realized — even when in relation to mundane, every-day tasks. When trying out a new cooking technique, I YouTube it (is that officially a verb yet?). I’m teaching myself ukulele — with the help of many fellow players who have posted videos sharing strum techniques. My partner has searched and found tips for his golf swing.
It seems everyone is a teacher. With the prevalence (some would say glut) of online video, it appears that the average person with a webcam shows little concern about ‘putting herself out there,’ especially when contributing to a community of interest. There’s more to be said here about a re-definition of expertise and a trend towards shared learning — this reminds me a little of the WILU 2010 keynote by Paul Gee — but I feel the need to read up on this topic first. Plan for a rainy day perhaps?
Ok, where am I going with this?
All these ideas surrounding collaborative communities and possibilities opened up by the Internet, and I couldn’t help thinking about the Digital Humanities. Digital Humanities has become an umbrella term, oft bandied about these days, and if you are feeling a little unsure of what this term describes, you are not alone. I came across an incredible resource: Stanford’s Tooling Up for Digital Humanities. This site is, according to its authors, a repository of essays designed to provide an introduction to key topics in the digital humanities.
I worked my way through all of it, and it’s a very impressive mini-course that I would recommend as reading for almost any academic librarian, especially those serving Humanities departments. The content is accompanied by a Workshop Series going on right now – I wish I could just drop in and attend!
Tooling Up highlights the intersections between Crowd Accelerated Innovation and academia. It was exciting to read about the projects developing in the Humanities field enabled by unexpected interdisciplinary collaborations and innovative applications of emerging technologies. The existence of this resource also speaks to a need for literacy surrounding this field, for both new and experienced humanists.
Finally, we as librarians can look to this site as info lit done right. The tone, the style, the medium: THIS is the way to engage academics & offer a learning experience.
A slightly scattered post today, but these ideas just have me thinking in all sorts of directions. Things are changing. How we learn, how we teach, how we explore new ideas. And one project just builds on top of another — the way it’s always been of course, but those dials have been cranked way up.
* I just have to mention oh-so-briefly that I attended the 2011 WNYO OCULA Spring Conference last week and participated in Innovation Boot Camp facilitated by folks from the University of Guelph. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s worth checking out.