What do we call that “digital” thing that we want to teach?

I’ve been wrestling with the notion of an interdisciplinary academic program for undergraduates that engages students in thoughtful consumption of digital media, in production of scholarly and creative work in various forms of digital media, and in exploration and analysis of the implications of such media.  In trying to clarify my thoughts before I go talk to people about this idea at my school and elsewhere, I asked for help on Twitter.  The following is the conversation that emerged.  I’m still analyzing it–I’m clearly still stuck, for example, in my quest to find a term that captures much of what I like about “Digital Humanities”, while including the social sciences and sciences as well–but I thought it might be useful to have the whole thing in one place for me and for anyone else who is interested.  I’d welcome any other comments or contributions to the discussion.

Why Blog Spam is a Good Thing

I woke up this morning to find 18 of my blog posts had been comment spammed with what looks like Chinese characters and links. [No comments about the need to move to WP please; I’ve seen WP anti-spam plug-ins fail much more often than Google’s software.]

So, why is this a good thing? As I went back to each post that had spam on it I was reminded of a number of posts that I’ve written over the last few years. Now, I’ve been meaning to go back and read over my ideas anyway, to get a sense for how my thinking has changed (“evolved” seems too strong 🙂 over time.

That review reminded me of a number of posts that I’ve wanted to write, others that I wanted to follow up on, and a sense of the comments and community that I’ve been missing out by not blogging lately. [Some of that interaction has been replaced by Twitter, which has been very useful, but also does not encourage me to write as much, or as thoughtfully.]

So, I’m hoping to push out a blog post or two in the next few days; and I’m going to think about how I’m going to use both Twitter and the blog to explore and engage further with the larger community I’ve come to depend on.

Twitter: Why all the fuss?

I’ve been using Twitter for several months now. [I have ~25 people I follow and about the same number follow me. I post at least once a day and I’ve used it to learn more about people I already knew from work, and gotten to know people with whom I’ve spent less than 48 hours in person. I don’t have it on my cell phone, but I do check it fairly regularly when I’m online.]

Although I have no idea what the company’s business plan is (probably to be bought by Google or Yahoo), it’s interesting to me that so many people are asking themselves how to use it (or dismissing it as overwhelming and/or naval-gazing). If we see it as a slightly different method of keeping in touch with other people, with people we’re interested in for a variety of intellectual or personal reasons, then good. Why the hand-wringing or defensiveness about it I see from so many bloggers (many of whom I really respect)? [For example] Is it that it’s really hard to explain to people who aren’t on it?