Open & Closed: some brief thoughts on participating in THATCampSF & OneWeek
It was hard for me to tweet this weekend for a variety of reasons, one of those being that I misplaced my phone charger cord (ack!), and another being that I was participating in an “unconference” called THATCamp Bay Area that required a great deal of attentiveness. But probably the most significant reason that I wasn’t tweeting was that I felt uncomfortable with being a part of a select group of attendees at this event, knowing that many qualified people weren’t able to attend. That took a great deal of the pleasure out of advertising my own presence. I know that’s a bit ridiculous, and if anything is counter-intuitive because I ought to be tweeting precisely because it would include non-attendees in the conversation. But I didn’t over-analyze my resistance–instead I immersed myself more wholly in being present. While at the conference I talked quite a bit about my work with One Week | One Tool, but I felt awkward about advertising the fact that I was part of this project too loudly, again knowing how many scholars vied for positions on the team and feeling somewhat self-conscious about my own good fortune in winning one of the golden tickets to participate.
Digital Humanities tends to be quite an inclusive community (as some have said, it is a “big tent”). At my core, I believe in open-source, freely-shared tools and content. I don’t like cliques and in-groups and members-only clubs. I feel everyone has a place at the table and I’ll undoubtedly continue to struggle with those moments when some are excluded because there aren’t enough chairs for everyone who wants to join the feast.
Perhaps I’m feeling overly self-conscious about my own good fortune in attending these events. Or perhaps I’m concerned that I’ll be labeled as a member of a particular inner-circle of DHers that I don’t really feel a part of. Or perhaps I’m simply insecure about my own place in the field. It’s probably a combination of all-of-the-above, as well as a recognition of how much I still have yet to learn from those around me.
And speaking of that….I’ll be in the Bay Area for the next few days meeting with scholars and friends. If you’d like to see if we can connect, drop me a note in a comment or via twitter.