Brown Groupies?

At the Women in the Archives conference this weekend, a friend commented that we seemed to be turning into Brown groupies.  We both attended an intensive three-day Advanced Encoding Seminar a few weeks ago, and there we were again on Saturday.  I had an even more groupie-like week since I heard computer scientist Jeannette Wing give a talk about computational thinking last Monday and then heard Neil Fraistat, who leads the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) discuss digital humanities centers on Wednesday.  This immersion in the digital will continue this Wednesday, when Angel David Nieves from Hamilton College will be on campus at Wheaton College to talk about his research and the regional digital humanities center they are organizing at Hamilton. I will be interested to see how my colleagues at Wheaton respond and to find out how all of these talks fit together in my own thinking about digital humanities and next steps at Wheaton, especially around collaborations with other institutions.

For the moment, I’m mostly just grateful for Brown.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to hear Wing.  Her three page piece on computational thinking from 2006 has had impressive effects.  She claims that the concept has taken hold in undergraduate curricula, and she is now focused on considering where we might best teach significant concepts in computational thinking at the K-12 levels.  This is all very exciting to me, and I look forward to seeing how it develops.  I wonder how my colleagues who specialize in teaching math educators for those levels are thinking about this issue.

Fraistat’s talk gave me still more to consider, as he presented a tour of MITH and the work they do there along with a summary of where we are in the development of digital humanities centers.  So much of what he had to say seemed to speak directly to where we find ourselves at Wheaton.  We’re not, of course, a big research university like Maryland, but we do see more and more collaborations among faculty members, students, and staff in Library and Information Services.  And those collaborations seem to me to echo on a smaller scale the kinds of collaborations Fraistat figured as significant for the next steps in the development of digital humanities centers.  Especially if we can promote the kind of broad and inclusive definitions of digital humanities that he suggested.

My brain was a bit on overload as I settled into a full day of papers and discussion at the Women in the Archive conference on Saturday.  I took plenty of notes, and the papers generated more ideas about the various projects I am working on than I could possibly summarize here.  I will note that during the conference I got an email asking for a title and blurb for the digital humanities workshop we will hold on campus at the end of May.

This has been a fruitful month for learning more about what others are doing in digital humanities, and I am looking forward to learning more and thinking with colleagues about where the work we do at Wheaton fits in this universe.

________

Jeannette Wing, “Computational Thinking,” <www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/usr/wing/www/publications/Wing06.pdf>.

Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, <http://mith.umd.edu/&gt;.

Women in the Archives Conference, <http://www.wwp.brown.edu/about/activities/wia/wia2010/schedule.html&gt;.

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