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Confession of a HASTAC Lurker

Confession of a HASTAC Lurker
I had already planned to write this post when I came across this on Twitter yesterday:
Now I had to write it.
When I look back at my first year on HASTAC, there couldn't be a better description for my role than lurker. Each morning I would wake up to a mailbox full of brilliant ideas. Scholars on digital pedagogy, scholars on emerging disciplines, scholars on developing and refining (and theorizing!) the intersection of academics and code culture. All things I'm deeply interested in and all things I was unfortunately a bit too timid so far to dip my toes into. As the threads grew and the conversations became more interesting, I found it harder and harder to jump in. I weighed in occasionally—I remember a nice thread on building a DH library—but not enough and not as much as I would have liked. Mostly, I sat back and watched.
The thing is though—as the tweet above so perfectly captures—I absorbed so much over the past months from the Scholars forums, the blog posts, just browsing the site, etc. I truly value my experience as a Scholar this year even if I've often felt a twinge of guilt from having taken more than I gave back. 
As academics are more likely to make New Year's resolutions over the Summer term than on January 1, here's mine: I will contribute more in Year Two. 
My instinct—unproveable and probably rationalizing—is that HASTAC encourages the polar opposite of the sophmore slump. The first year is intimidating. So many people from so many places working on so many interesting projects. It's easy to get lost. It's easy to keep to the sidelines. It's easy not to contribute. My goal is to overcome this. I look at the next year and my participation with the group with a better sense of how to engage, how to contribute, and, in the spirit of the "C" in HASTAC, how to collaborate. To tip my hand a bit, I am interested in starting a forum on Digital Methods and Language Learning. In typical lurker fashion, I had even written up the forum proposal in April and held back—too much other end-of-the-semester work, too much dissertation work to attend to, a bit too late to really capture the attention of the other Scholars. But I'm convinced that Year Two is the year to make this all happen. Along similar lines, I'm determined to attend the annual conference this year. But the main thing I want to do is make more of the day-to-day interactions—weigh in on the forum posts, blog a bit more often, etc.
This post has served a cathartic function for me, but the more important thing is that I would like it to serve as a word of thanks for the core contributors at HASTAC. Lurkers are only as good as the writers feeding them compelling ideas. Thanks to those writers both for the content and also for the example.
Confession, resolution, now the hard part, action. Hopefully, I'll have a much different post to write next July.—PJB  

1 comment

Hi Patrick, Thank you so much for this.  Whether you read or contribute or,as in your eloquent post above, contribute about reading/lurking, you are HASTAC.   We are an open network.  Content is produced by anyone who posts and everyone who reads, tweets, retweets.   It was a crazy idea back in 2002 when we started . . . but there's about 12,000 now registered on and we know that people are always reading, translating ideas to their classrooms and their research, and contributing in all kinds of ways, direct and indirect.   


Here's one way that still takes my breath away:  we've only had to tell about a dozen people in over a decade to tone down their harsh remarks, that we value disagreement but in a respectful way that promotes all of our learning and understanding, not triumphant bashing.   Something about the community translates respect ...


BUT . . .   it is intimidating.  Sometimes I read the HASTAC Scholars Forums and I am just in awe of the eloquence and intelligence and find myself acting less as interlocutor than cheerleader.   It's intimidating to enter such a polite, welcoming, yet formidable fray.


Thanks for doing so.  Lurkers are always, always welcome----and those who post are even more valued.  You are both.  Thank you.


I've written two very old posts on "lurkers" and your wonderful post made me dig them out of HASTAC's vault.  Here's one from 2008: and another