Hastac and the Collaborative Humanities

     Hastac is a digital site for collaboration between people who are involved in at least one of the following: the humanities, arts, science, and technology. As both a platform and a framing device, hastac is primarily great because it consolidates and streamlines collaborative work on much anything that people are passionate about.

     First, it is apparent that the content and mode of presentation on the site reflect particularly strong affective engagements. That makes sense given the site’s relatively informal setting – people would like to work on projects and materials that interest them. The mere passion implicit in the work shows that users are integrating (and reintegrating) the “human” into the humanities, arts, sciences, and technologies. For us, as introductory adventurers into the digital humanities, that is critical because we will be able to see how the humanities and the digital realm can co-constitutively evolve and grow.

     Second, the collaborative nature of the community can serve as inspiration for work in the digital humanities. From “liking” [thumbs-upping], commenting, and sharing [on social media] to seeking help, digitizing together, and experimenting collectively, hastac offers users a way to integrate the community into their work and their work into the community. Communitarian approaches in academia foster new ontologies and epistemologies that can prove to be critical in moving humanity [and expanding who is apart of humanity to begin with] forward into the future.

     One of the blog posts that caught my attention was titled “Slavery and a Temporal Problematic” (https://www.hastac.org/blogs/amcleod/2016/09/05/slavery-and-temporal-pro…). It is a critical analysis of recent reactions by universities in the United States to their historic connections to slavery. The post is written in an almost conversational tone, but its affect is not particularly relaxing. If anything, between the hyperlinked sources to examples of institutional responses and the laidback word choice and presentation, Alisea McLeod, the author, is able to effectively convey their genuine frustration with the responses they encountered. Apart from the mode of presentation, the content of the piece drew my ire because it claimed that certain universities seem to be addressing their institutional histories only because of the current political climate surrounding Black Lives Matter protests across college campuses.

     I screenshot another blog post I was interested in and attached it bove. The way the quote is conveyed and presented strongly influenced how I absorbed its content. The large picture-esque lettering and colorful “NPR” logo really drew me into the quote. I often find myself reading an entire academic text without being captivated. Rather, I read traditional texts with a consistent level of dry attentiveness because the text tends to be presented in the same way throughout the entire piece. Here, I was immediately intrigued by the grandiose representation of the quote, and, thus, I interacted with its writing [and, therefore, message] with a strong emotional investment. It may be a trivial example but this blogpost illustrated a new axis of communitarian engagement to me that the digital humanities can more readily offer than the more mainstream literary tradition of the humanities.