Here Be Dragons¶
The language that follows is pinched, reproduced, and adapted with permission from Ryan Cordell's BookLab class at Illinois, who in turn adapted with permission from Miriam Posner's teaching at UCLA. Thanks Ryan & Miriam!
This class may be a bit different from most of your classes so far at Carleton. I hope you will see these differences as exciting and intellectually stimulating, but you should be aware of the following caveats as we begin. If you can face these challenges with persistence, verve, and (reasonably) good humour—and abide by the code of conduct outlined below—we should have an intellectually enlivening semester. If you have any concerns about these caveats, please come talk to me. I am confident we can find a way forward if we work together.
The course is an experiment
I'm approaching the history of the internet from an archaeological angle. While there are people working in this area, the field is wide open for innovation, critical engagment, reflection, and experimentation. That's what makes it exciting. I sign up to teach courses where there's something I want to learn. That's why things might not play out exactly the way it says on the syllabus or this website. You'll need to keep an eye on the updates.
An experiential course such as this opens itself up to many quirks: the syllabus may shift; a given tool might not work as expected; an experiment might veer off track or fail altogether. In other words, this course will require both an inventive spirit and patience from its students.
I'm not interested in essays
The work in this class asks you to be conscious about relationships among historical materials, digital media and messages. It will require substantial writing, but it will not look like a 20 page paper at semester’s end. Instead, your engagement will require sustained work and will be multimodal, comprising text and other elements (e.g. digital images, maps, graphics, sprites, etc).
There will be collaboration (which is not 'group work')
Digital humanities projects often require collaboration among scholars who bring different intellectual and technical skills to expansive projects. This class will require you to work together in class and to support each other. Indeed, I am not bothered at all should you find help and support outside this class with regard to the technical aspects of the course - learning how to distribute responsibilities, and acknowledging and sharing credit is part of the point here. I do ask you to acknowledge in your written work when you've had collaborative help.
You will be required to acquire some technical skills (old and new)
I do not require or assume any particular technical experience as we begin this course, but I will expect you to be willing to experiment with new tools and learn new technical skills throughout the semester. “I’m not very technical” will not excuse you from the hands-on portions of the course any more than “I’m not poetic” would excuse you from reading Dickinson in a survey of American literature. Some of the tools we play with you may find useful for your research interests; some you will not. But I expect you to try them with enthusiasm and an open mind. Document everything and soon you'll be quite techy indeed!
Code of Conduct¶
The code of conduct for this course borrows directly from the stellar model outlined by Northeastern University’s Feminist Coding Collective. Their Code of Conduct and Community Guidelines are well worth consulting in full, but I have copied and lightly adapted those items most pertinent to the work we will do in our class.
- It’s okay not to know: Assume that no one inherently knows what we’re learning. We all come to this class with different backgrounds and abilities; none of us (including the instructor) will know everything and that is okay! Encourage a space where it’s okay to ask questions.
- Be respectful: Do not use harmful language or stereos that target people of all different gender, abilities, races, ages, ethnicities, languages, socioeconomic classes, bodies, sexualities, and other aspects of identity.
- Online spaces: Respect each other in both physical and digital spaces.
- Collaborative and inclusive interactions: Avoid speaking over each other. Instead, we want to practice listening to each other and speaking with each other, not at each other.
- Use “I” statements: focusing on your own interpretation of a situation, rather than placing blame or critiquing someone else.
Historically, pandemics just don't go away. They flare up. There might be outbreaks. Your personal circumstances might be affected. I hope that by the time we actually are together in this course, Covid-19 will be a bad memory, but I expect it'll still be around. Your health (both physical and mental) is more important than a class. In the event of some sort of Covid disruption, we can - and will - figure something else out: everything in the syllabus/plan can be altered as necessary.
I'll be wearing a mask because there are people in my family at risk and because the long term consequences of multiple infections with COVID are many and dangerous. I hope you will take a positive step to keep yourself and others healthy.
I trust you. I don't need to see a dr's note, whether for something Covid related or something else. What's more, I don't need to know the details. I trust you. If something is up, it's enough to send me an email and say, 'something's up; can we rejig things'. We will figure out a way for you to move forward and be successful, together. There's no cop shit in this course. You're here to learn, I'm here to teach.
Real Names Policy¶
There will be public facing work done in this class. Anything that is public facing may be done with a pseudonym, no questions asked. Please send me an email letting me know what your pseudonym is, though, so I know whose material is whose.
Illustration by Marina Green from Ouch!