May 19th, 2010 | Dave
What if digital humanities centers were more like hackerspaces, where students/faculty/staff could learn skills, socialize, and collaborate on projects in an informal setting? If not DH centers themselves, what if there was a space on your campus where Computer Science grad students hung out to hack on code with undergrads from English? I’m talking about a place where you could learn how to use a soldering iron, or learn about the wonders of Emacs. Think about the work at these hackerspaces as R&D, entirely participant-driven, and something closer to NiCHE’s Hacking as a Way of Knowing workshop, rather than the grant-funded model of DH that people more commonly associate with centers. Spontaneous. Non-hierarchical. Open. Fun. A hackerspace at a university could be a place where everyday is an unconference, there’s no staff, and skunkworks projects are fostered.
Over the past several years, local hackerspaces have taken hold in cities across the world from Baltimore to Berlin, from San Francisco to New York. There are already a handful of hackerspaces on college campuses like BUILDS at Boston University or MITERS at MIT. What’s next in the evolution of these spaces for tinkering and what can their relationship with digital humanities be?