Digitizing the Humanities


Reposted from the New York Times:

In the Republic of Learning humanities scholars often see themselves as second-class citizens. Their plaintive cries are not without cause. When universities trim budgets it is often their departments that take the hit. In the last 10 years, however, there has been one bright spot: the “digital humanities,” a vast enterprise that aims to digitize our cultural heritage, put it online for all to see, and do so with a scholarly punctilio that Google does not.

The digital humanities have captured the imaginations of funders and university administrators. They are being built by a new breed of scholar able to both investigate Cicero’s use of the word “lascivium” and code in Python. If you want to read Cicero’s letter in which lascivium appears, or the lyrics of 140,000 Dutch folk songs, now you can. Texts are living things: Digitization transforms them from caterpillars into butterflies. But the true promise of digitization is not just better websites. Rather, it is the transformation of the humanities into science.

By “science” I mean using numbers to test hypotheses. Numbers are the signature of science; they allow us to describe patterns and relationships with a precision that words do not. The quantification of the humanities is driven by an inexorable logic: Digitization breeds numbers; numbers demand statistics. The new breed of digital humanists is mining and visualizing data with the facility that bioinformaticians analyze genomes and cosmologists classify galaxies. All of them could, if they cared to, understand each others’ results perfectly well.

Read More…

Visualizing Your Professional Network to Inform Your Learning


Reposted from Beth’s Blog:

Earlier this month, I had an opportunity to facilitate a full-day innovation lab for an amazing group of network thinkers using human design methods to inform the design of a leadership network.    It has been exactly a year since I have committed to practicing the methods from Luma Institute as part of improving my facilitation practice.   It was a great learning experience from both a process and content perspective.

It is easy to focus on our area of practice, our comfort zone and continually deepen our expertise.   However, when we map our networks, there may be adjacent practices and professionals who can stimulate our own learning, give us a new view with which to reflect upon our own work.   Nancy White has called this process “triangulating professional development” or learning from adjacent practices. In elementary school, these are called “transdisciplinary” skills that can help us learn in all subjects (Communication, Research, Critical Thinking, Self-Management, and Social Skills).

When we visualize our networks, we can also ask if it is diverse enough?   Diversity correlates with innovation!  Are you getting new ideas from your network?   If you find Twitter or LinkedIn boring, perhaps you are following wrong people.    It is time to tune your network and add new connections by exploring the edges.

Read More…