DARIAH Virtual Exchange Session: The Scholarly Primitives of Scholarly Meetings

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”. This online exhibition of resources and ideas exploring the many primitives of and issues surrounding scholarly meetings, organised by DARIAH-EU, 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.

Registration to the event

If you still haven’t registered to the event, we invite you to do so by next Wednesday, May 27 here: https://www.dariah.eu/2020/04/27/dariah-virtual-exchange-session-the-scholarly-primitives-of-scholarly-meetings/

Programme of the event

May 28 May: 14:00 – 16:00 UTC+1 (15:00 – 17:00 CEST)

14.00 Welcome and overview of the meeting theme, context, participants and preliminary results – Jennifer Edmond

14.30 Move to break out spaces for 3-minute ‘provocations’ and discussions

1. Making (virtual) interactions work betterChair: Sally Chambers Speakers: Rimi Nandy and Sarah Middle.
2. Breaking down barriers – of career stage, language, discipline or other – between researchersChair: Andrea Scharnhorst
Speakers: Nicole Basaraba and Paul Spence
3. Academics in the Ether: Tackling the challenges of working away from the office Chair: Claire Warwick Speakers: Claire Warwick and Mariann Hardy
4. DH Methods and Tools Gone Wrong: Discoveries, Failures & Advice for the FutureChair: Frank Fischer Speakers: Quinn Dombrowski and Amelia Sanz
5. Working together to move forward: Fostering collaboration for projects, grant proposals, or publicationsChair: Francesca Morselli
Speakers: Zdenko Vozar and Michelle Doran
6. The Academic Footprint: Sustainable methods for knowledge exchangeChair: Jennifer Edmond
Speakers: Geoffrey Rockwell
7. In Praise of Presence: Why do we Travel to meet?Chair: Agiati Benardou; Speakers: Vicky Garnett and Courtney Grile

15.00 Comfort break

15.10 Return to plenary. An arts perspective of the scholarly meeting:
Courtney Grile on “Investigating Liveness”

15.30 Report highlights from the break out groups

15.45 Summation

16.00 End of meeting