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Conference reflection

3 min read

This DH conference was the first conference I have ever had the chance to attend. I ended up going to three talks in total: Lauren Klein's keystone, an introduction to Scalar, and a talk on temporality.

Lauren Klein's framing of cataloguing and digital humanities as "carework" was not only enlightening, but also relatively reassuring. I sometimes worry about whether or not the data that we are encoding this summer will ever be used and whether our efforts will be important to the later field of research. Her characterization of "carework" as invisible work was something that I identified with and wanted to hear more about. How can invisible work be brought into the light, especially in cases that are difficult to quantify? There are so many social inequities in the recording of history; there is no guarantee that everyone's work is documented. There is no guarantee that credit will be given where credit is due. I only wish that Dr. Klein had elaborated more on what methods or mindsets we can take to bring carework into view. "Not doing or creating, but opening paths for future knowledge" is a beautiful sentiment, but is it a mindset that needs to gradually infiltrate academic circles? I want to know how we can actively, rather than passively, apply it to research.

The introduction to Scalar was an effective workshop! While I cannot make beautiful Scalar presentations yet, I can now definitely make workable Scalar presentations. I think that this is indeed the presentation platform I am going to use in the final stages of my project, since multi-media essay is close to what I am aiming for. The workshop itself was very direct and clear; I also appreciated that time was taken to explain the adminstrative functions of Scalar. Overall, it was a fruitful workshop.

The talk on temporality also gave me a lot of things to consider. The section I was most interested in was the last "fuzzy dates" talk. The concept of "precision of duration" was wild. How can such wildly disparate durations of dates refer to the same state? Of course, like was brought up, losing context is unavoidable in that case. The only quibble I have with this talk is that I seem unable grasp its importance in humanities research. Usually all that is necessary is to have a date (e.g. 1791) that denotes a publication year, or other such dates of genesis or destruction. I think ultimately, this talk seems like a really cool and perhaps introspective, philosophical discussion on how to discuss "when."