A lot of discussion around the digital humanities seems focused on research and changing practices within the academy. That’s perfectly appropriate, but I’d also like to hear what THATcampers think about ways technology can enable greater engagement between humanists and the public. What’s the state of the art now? Who’s work needs to be highlighted?
Public media are venturing into the digital realm, but should we be encouraging 2.0+ versions of Ken Burns to popularize humanities subjects? Could public programming in the humanities learn from examples like this innovative science film festival (which partnered with Vimeo to include online video shorts). Museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions have been experimenting, but can they learn and adapt faster?
Journalists are being urged to “show their work” and make the process of reporting a public activity. Are there ways to make the practices and products of humanities research interesting to non-academics? Could scholars use social media and low-cost broadcast technology to reach people outside classrooms, whether they are casual browsers or serious autodidacts? If people will pay for The Great Courses, wouldn’t they also enjoy a live conversation with a gifted teacher via Ustream?
I’d like to see a general discussion of these questions, but I’m sure people would also want to focus on action. What are the tools and practices we can use immediately? Rather than waiting for institutions to reform, what steps can individuals take right now to increase the public visibility and “relevance” of the humanities?