One of the primary reasons I decided to take this course instead of others was not a compelling interest to study the humanities. There were many other alternatives in the same department that could offer that experience. Instead, I wanted to see if recent developments in the digital sphere in Economics would be applicable to a different academic discipline.
Discovering the academic Economics blogosphere over the last few years has been one of the most intellectually stimulating experiences that I have had. The fast moving, policy oriented nature of the field made it well suited to transitioning from purely peer reviewed journals to a digital native format. Blogs served as an incubator of working papers and new ideas where scholars can quickly acclimate themselves to the latest trains of thought and receive feedback on their own. Additionally, the addressable audience was quickly expanded outside the halls of academia to anyone with a browser and a Twitter account, allowing a much wider and diverse range of people to engage in academic discourse.
The public conversations over Twitter of Academics and Federal Reserve officials have direct implications on monetary policy. Released Fed minutes reveal that Fed officials regularly consulted blogs during the fast moving portions of the 08 financial crisis. The result is that you have had upstart bloggers like Scott Sumner http://www.themoneyillusion.com be declared by the press “As Saving the US Economy” http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/09/the-blogger-who-save... and inspiring large policy initiatives like QE2. The vestiges of un-seriousness and lack of rigor are no longer there, with Formal Federal Reserve Officials like Ben Bernanke and Narayana Kocherlakota using the medium as their primary form of academic contribution.
HASTAC serves an attempt to replicate that same environment in the humanities. By providing an accessible forum for stories to be posted, aggregated and shared, it has the opportunity to kick start what blogging did to Economics for the humanities, putting DH at the forefront of the field. Already, my cursory review of trending articles shows a far wider range of ideas and topics being tackled than what would ordinarily be seen in peer reviewed literature. This format shift has the opportunity to introduce more risk taking, iteration and global collaboration in the humanities, and I am excited to see what becomes of it.