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DARIAH Virtual Exchange Session: The Scholarly Primitives of Scholarly Meetings
May 28, 2020 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Thursday 28th May 2020 | 14:00 UTC+1
If you work in research, you have almost certainly seen at least one, if not many, meetings you had planned to attend be delayed, transformed or removed entirely from your diary. They may have been major conferences or smaller workshops, seminars with all new faces to you or project meetings with your regular collaborators, but regardless of format or formality, very few of the opportunities we planned for knowledge exchange in physical spaces have gone forward undisrupted in the past two months. The immediate pressure for this may have been the COVID 19 pandemic, but the pace and place of scholarly meetings has been increasingly questioned in recent years. We know that the intensity of a face-to-face meeting brings many benefits for collaboration and exchange, but, at the same time, we are also being asked to consider their cost in terms of the environmental impact of long-distance travel, the inequalities and biases they may engrain, and the potential impact on our mental, emotional and physical healths.
Virtual exchange can surely be a support to finding the right balance between knowledge exchange that truly benefits from the expensive (socially, environmentally, personally, economically) congregation of people in one place and more granular, fluid, but perhaps impoverished on-line interactions. A virtual meeting and a situated one cannot be expected to do and achieve the same things, but the precise nature of this difference has not received as much attention as the urgency of the transition might merit. Virtual meetings are still in their incunabular phase, where a new technology is expected to replicate the affordances of the old one, with the losses it may represent and the new possibilities it may bring perhaps unrecognised. If we are to understand how to optimally use technology to support scholarship, therefore, we need to better understand not just the technology, but more importantly, what these meetings achieve for us and how.
In light of the recent postponement of the DARIAH Annual Event 2020 on the topic of “Scholarly Primitives”, we are proposing to hold a virtual exchange session to reflect on the “Scholarly Primitives of the Scholarly Meeting”. An online exhibition of resources and ideas exploring the many primitives of and issues surrounding scholarly meetings, organised by DARIAH-EU, will be open from 21 until 28 May 2020. The exhibition will act as a pool of prompts and provocations for thought and conversation, a dialogue that will culminate in a 2-hour synchronous virtual exchange session on the 28th (from 14:00-16:00 UTC+1).
Through this unique event, we hope to explore together the many functions scholarly meetings fulfill in our lives, including the respective potentials of the online and offline spaces at our disposal. We will look at what we value most enduringly and what we might no longer require within our current and emerging practices of personal, informal or semiformal exchange, creating for 2020 a highly relevant response to the project which John Unsworth took on 20 years ago to better understand scholarship through the lens of the primitive.