Blog Post

Erin Lamb, Mark Olson, HASTAC Scholars, Counting Down!

We've been getting out the word for the last few weeks about tomorrow'sexciting launch of the HASTAC Scholars program, with a vlog-to-vlogconversation on Seesmic with social networking pioneer Howard Rheingoldkicked off by HASTAC Scholar Joshua McVeigh-Schultz (UCSC). Here's theurl: What you don't know is all thework behind the scenes by two of HASTAC's industrious, brilliant (theyare blushing), innovative, creative leaders, both doctoral studentsthemselves, each finishing a dissertation even as they have beenworking together all summer, along with Sheryl Grant (also a graduatestudent) to launch the new HASTAC Scholars network of the future. Thisis a small tribute to Erin Gentry Lamb, Director of the HASTAC Scholars, and Mark Olson, Director of New Media for HASTAC and the Digital Media and Learning Competition. Networks happen virally but they also need leadership. Erin and Mark, working with Sheryl (who directs social networking on the Competition Winners' Hub), have been leading up to the launch of the HASTAC Scholars.


As you know from an earlier post of Mark's about Erin, she is a doctoral student in English at Duke finishing a dissertation on the concept of aging, senescence, and obsolescence. As you may remember from an earlier post by me, Mark is a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina, in Communications, finishing a dissertation on virtual surgery and the politics of care in the medical profession. They both work the borders of science and science studies, humanities and social science, design and computation. They are both brilliant teachers and embody the three nodes of HASTAC: creative design and application of technology, critical thinking about all aspects of technology, and participatory learning through and with digital technologies.


Mark and Erin embody something more. They are visionaries, committed to making our learning practices as interesting and vital as they can be.  They are launching the new HASTAC Scholars program a week after the huge lift-off of the HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning 2008 Competition ( Until you have run an international competition, you cannot begin to imagine the amount of detail involved in running one. it was a little crazy, actually, to think about launching a new HASTAC Scholars program--with over fifty undergraduate and graduate and community scholars all over the country--a week after the Competition launch. And yet, what better way to EXEMPLIFY the themes of the 2008 Digital Media Competition (innovation/participatory learning/youth innovation/international collaboration) than by a new program that is itself a network of the future dedicated to and practicing those themes and methods?


So every time I would say to Erin and Mark, "You can slow down a bit" they would say, "But the timing of this is PERFECT!"


Well, that's certainly true.  Many thousands of people will be looking at our sites--the HASTAC and the Competition and the 2007 Winners sites--in the next weeks, anticipating applying for the 2008 DML Competition. Why not have, in place, the HASTAC Scholars program that can already begin to show what participatory learning does----rather than simply preaching, over and over, what participatory learning can do?


Mark and Erin kept pushing and insisting that the future is now, that there's a great cadre of HASTAC Scholars ready to begin.   But that meant that, while writing their dissertations, Erin and Mark were also organizing the HASTAC Scholars and building out the HASTAC Scholars site on a Drupal open source site that we're planning to redesign (and that really is in need of updating) later this year. Tons of work.  But they were committed to making it happen.  Amazing.


And what great models for the HASTAC Scholars, all of whom will be reporting on exciting participatory and digital happenings at their universities, in their regions, in their particular areas of interest, even as they pursue their own work in their respective fields.  How to juggle multiple demands at once is, of course, part of the world of work, education, being a student, being a learner at any age.


Are you getting the picture? Participatory learners learning from participatory learning to exemplify participatory learning . . . and on and on. I know Erin Gentry Lamb, Director of the HASTAC Scholars, will have more to say about this remarkable group and all they are doing already. I look forward to participating in this upcoming launch event and seeing how our first ever group of HASTAC Scholars will unfold the future . . . But, before the launch, before it all begins, I know I speak on behalf of all of the HASTAC network of networks, our virtual institution, in thanking Erin Gentry Lamb and Mark Olson for all they have done to get us here, to make this possible.


The Olympics ended in the wee hours over in China and are coming to an end here in the U.S. tonight, but, at HASTAC, it feels a bit like the Olympics of a different kind as we launch this exciting new program. Thanks, Erin and Mark. And, well, HASTAC Scholars, plus Howard Rheingold in conversation with H.S. Joshua McVeigh-Schultz: we're anticipating tomorrow's launch event in Participatory Learning. To coin a phrase, Let the Games Begin!




Special thanks to Flickr community participant Ashepsut's for posting this lovely image. Please click on the image for more of Ashepet's truly stunning photostream and full documentation.


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