Blog Post

Eight Ways to be a HASTAC ("Haystack") Leader--Make that Ten!

I keep being asked how one can become part of HASTAC, how one joins, participates, becomes a networker and a leader. For newbies, it seems mysterious. It's not at all. But since there are not many virtual networks out there, it can seem lots harder than it is. Here's the first step: registerto the website. Welcome! You are now part of HASTAC. The second step to participation is pretty much what you want it to be, and can happen at any level. You can register and check in occasionally, or you can play an active part in the network simply by participating. Participating? I know that sounds obscure, and what people really wantto know is where to begin, how they can play a vital and meaningfulpart in the HASTAC network. The cool thing about networks and virtual institutions is networking is leading. You make connections and you are a vital node in the HASTAC network. Being a vital node makes you a HASTAC leader. But you can also take a more active role in leading this virtual association. Our mission statement is broad and flexible and adaptable as technologies, institutions, and agendas change. The major commitments are to working across disciplinary boundaries, to not seeing "humanities" and "science" as oppositions but as continuums in the complex ways of knowing and communicating that are part of digital learning. We support the principle of "collaboration by difference," and also strive to work across the boundaries of universities, communities, K-12, and informal learning environments. And we believe that critical thinking about technology is essential to creative development and deployment of technology--that critical and creative go together. Does that seem broad? Of course! That is why different HASTAC participants and groups develop one or another part of the mission. And that is why anyone who shares some of these goals can be a HASTAC leader , an important node in the network, if you want to be.

Here are eight ways off the top of my head, offering varying levels of participation and leadership. And I bet you can think oflots more.

Eight Ways to Become a HASTAC Networker and Leader

--1 Post jobopportunities, calls for papers, conference announcements, fellowships, news,awards, syllabi, reviews and urls for new software and hardware and collaborative sites to Needle. And look at the postings on Needle for information about all of theabove as your vital and constant information source. Give. Take. Share.

--2 Blog. More people are posting on the site and itis great to read, to learn, from others in the network. I've been blogging for over a year or two and it is fantastic when other people post their own ideas and points of view. Plus, as we know from Boing Boing or Savage Minds or a host of other collaborative sites, the more people post, the more other people visit. And then, when they visit, they post, and the viral network expands and extends and enriches us all. HASTAC invites your thoughts on anything of relevance to the HASTAC mission. Short is better than long. (i.e. Do as I say, not as I do.) Post any time. It's so easy. To repeat: register to the site. Log on. Go to Needle. Post. Bingo! You now have a blog on the HASTAC site.

--3 RSS Needle to your own blog or homepage. And spread the word. And if you blog on a topic related to the HASTAC mission and want to be an official part of the network, let us know and we can find a way to feed your blog to the site. (See #9 below and check out the ways HASTAC on Ning is now an official part of the homepage and Needle. Your website or blog can also be listed as part of the HASTAC "Network Activities." To repeat: you are part of the network if you want to be and if you contribute to some aspect of the HASTAC mission.)

--4 Join andcontribute to the Facebook HASTAC site (it?s pretty pathetic now; we needothers to make it alive).

--5 Volunteer to holda townhall or panel discussion that you podcast and then link your podcasts tothe HASTAC site and, in your publicity, flaunt the HASTAC connection. (?X is a proud member of the HASTACnetwork. The podcast of this programwill be archived at HASTAC is a movement and a vision and a catalyst for change. We're redefining the relationship between "technologists" and "artists" and "humanists" and "social scientists" by insisting that the continuities among us are more substantive than the differences. If you want to be part of that vision, then name your HASTAC connection on your next event and link to the site. Contact us and we can find an interesting way to do that, to mirror your site, to advertise your event, to network and amplify the power of your particular contribution to this vision and this experiment in virtual institution-building.

--6 Host a conferenceor meeting with HASTAC listed as one of the co-sponsors (see 5 above). HASTAC has no funding and no staff to helpyou organize your event. We do, however,have a fantastic network and target audience. We never sell our mailing lists but, if your event supports the HASTACvision and mission, we can help you get out the word effectively.

--7 Teach a HASTACcourse and share ideas for how the HASTAC website might be a knowledge-commonsfor your class and for others. What is a HASTAC course? Anything that loosely corresponds to our mission. Share your syllabus, share your experiences, and have your students contribute their own blog insights to the HASTAC site. You can even set up your own Forum for your course on the site.

--8 No idea what #8is . . . but I bet you do. Send usideas. Administration for HASTAC isprimarily at the John Hope FranklinCenter at Duke and at UCHRI in Irvine, CA,but, since we are a virtual organization, anyone with ideas and energy andleadership can play a major role in the HASTAC network. Ideas welcome!

Postscript: Make that 9: Our newest HASTAC leader, Mechelle de Craene, has created "HASTAC on Ning," a new network that she is calling "A Synergistic Symposium for a Cybernetic Age." Mechelle has energy for ten people and we are very excited that "HASTAC on Ning" is now linked directly to Needle in an automatic blog feed, and also appears on the HASTAC homepage. HASTAC on Ning uses a beautiful dandelion image as its symbol. It looks like one whisper of breath will make all those spores spread and spread and spread. That is how you become a HASTAC leader. Visit:

Postscript2: Make that 10: How about submitting a proposal for HASTAC II, TechnoTravels. The application process strongly encourages submitting a proposal that includes a two-minute YouTube video and posting it to YouTube tagged HASTAC2008. Here's the basic info, and, for a sampling of some of what happened at HASTAC I ("Electronic Techtonics: Thinking at the Interface"), here are four YouTube trailers by the Franklin Center's own Catherine Angst covering the range of possibilities. Only you can dream the rest.



Deadline: February 25, 2008

Registration will be open February 1, 2008.
For additional information, please visit




For us new folks, can you suggest where might be a good place to start. I am excited to have found this resource and collaborative space. I am looking forward to sharing ideas with an eye toward my sabbatical leave next year. To building bridges...thanks!

Raymond Riley

Chair and Professor of Music-New Media Studies

Alma College


Hi, Raymond,


It depends on what you want. You can start by blogging---whenever you have something you want to say, you simply post a blog on Needle and it stays up on the HASTAC homepage until someone else blogs and stays indexed for a while. Come up with a nice, clear title that someone can find via Google.


Or, you can post announcements any time you receive them or hear about conferences or want to post a call for papers for a conference or want to invite collaborators on a project. Any of that can go on Needle too.

If you have a specific project, you can post a "Call to Collaborate" and describe your project and invite people to be in touch with you. A conference panel is often a great way to begin a collaboration--and you can post this. Such as "Seeking Papers for a Panel on Music and New Media at SCUMS" (or whatever).

Good luck! Best, Cathy



Mechelle, who frequently blogs on the HASTAC website, just came up with a fantastic ninth way of being a HASTAC Leader: she started a HASTAC ning. Join us!