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Minor Brushes with Fame

“I’m excited about digital technology, even as I worry about making a Plato page look like a Wikipedia entry,? said Thomas Mallon, deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Needless to say, I wasn't at this particular Meeting of Humanistic Minds (IHE), anymore than I was at SCS or the NextText shindig, although I suppose I can say for myself that I knew people at each. You see, if you read the IHE account of the AAU/ACLS meeting, you'll find, towards the bottom, a couple of mentions of Jim Leach, who was my congressman back in the day. He and my dad went to school together, and while I don't flatter myself to imagine that he remembers me, it's not an impossibility. Hey, it's even possible that he'll have a staffer running Technorati searches on him, and turn up this entry. Who knows?

I don't have much beyond this "brush with fame" mention, although I did want to point out that we have a ways to go in the humanities when one of the attempts at humor is a cheap jab at Wikipedia. There are plenty of sensible suggestions in the IHE account of the meeting, but they all leave me feeling a little flat. There's already plenty of good thinking coming out of the humanities, or at least from people who began their careers there (Steven Johnson, David Weinberger, et al.), and there's plenty of interesting stuff going on already. Figuring out how to disguise what we do as cost-effective (i.e., critical thinking), for example, feels like giving up to me.

I'm not sure that events like the one in Philly are really going to accomplish much in the long term for folks in the humanities, until the people like the ones at that meeting are genuinely interested in reversing the attitudes that work against the humanities. And that means undoing a couple of decades of corporatization, which I'm not sure is a realistic prospect. I suppose we'll see.

That's all.