This is my first blog post on the all-new HASTAC website. I hope you will take a few moments to explore it--I know I will be doing so all day. The easiest way is by taking the tour: https://www.hastac.org/take-tour. It's only a few minutes and it will introduce you to some of the great new features, including a very interesting architecture that helps lead you into the main content areas of the incredible site.
What is so fascinating about HASTAC is that its voluminous content is created by a community. It is free. No corporate sponsors. We create what's here. We use it. We add to it. We remix it. Now we can access it all kinds of ways, more easily, more sensibly. So many people have worked for over a year to improve the search functions to make this community-created content more readily available so it can be used in your research and classes.
We need feedback. This is still beta. We have many more features we are developing and that have not yet been launched. If you are interested in helping to work on those, let us know. If you have problems or ideas, let us know. We are constantly hoping to improve. And, given that we have no corporate sponsorship and that most of our labor is voluntary (contributed on top of paid work for other jobs we do), we think HASTAC is pretty amazing.
Here are some surprising facts about HASTAC.
- CLAIM TO FAME: In a recent NSF grant where two different postdoctoral fellows concentrated on what this network is, mined our data and visualized it for the community, and published scholarly articles about it (https://www.hastac.org/documents/eager-external-evaluation-report), we learned, from our external assessment, that HASTAC is the world's first and oldest "academic social networking service." We existed before MySpace and Facebook and Twitter, and before the oldest science social network, NanoHub. No wonder we had such a hard time explaining to people what we were doing.
- PRACTICE WHAT WE PREACH: Our commitment has been to community, collaboration, diversity, and equality--in the classroom as a model for a better society. Our mottos have been "Learning the Future Together" (I think that was our first). And then came: "Difference isn't our deficit; it's our operating system." And our main one: "Changing the Way We Teach and Learn." That is exemplifed in this Drupal-powered, free, open source website. Anyone can join as long as you practice the community standard of respect for others. No snark, please. You cannot be an open, egalitarian society and be a troll. Doesn't work.
- LET STUDENTS TAKE THE LEAD: Our HASTAC Scholars have been our thought leaders. Again, practice what we teach. Since we advocate student-centered learning, we also let our forums and our principles and our practices be modeled by anyone in the community who wants to take a leadership role, of course, but we often entrust that opportunity, specifically, to graduate and undergraduate HASTAC Scholars. Soon we'll be sending out this year's invitation for nominations. We hope you'll nominate or self-nominate.
Okay. That's it. We have a very sweet new home for our community. Now, let's get busy. There is so much to change in society. We need to start with our own classrooms, the way we can change the world over which we have some control, and then carry that activism into our community (right here on HASTAC) and beyond as far as we can have an impact. Let's get started!
p.s. THANK YOU HASTAC TEAM for giving us all such a fabulous site on which to make some noise!