Sink or swim

Throwing kid into pool


When I was a wee lad of six or so, the intrepid counselors at Robin Hood day camp taught me to swim by a method that, while impressive in its simplicity, would no doubt have made the helicopter parents of today hyperventilate (and, most likely, follow up with a lawsuit): they unceremoniously tossed me into the deep end of the pool. In retrospect, their chosen method must have been an effective one, since I did learn to swim (though I’ve mercifully blocked out the details about how exactly I did so).

The organizers of our summer institute in digital art history at the Center for History and New Media are clearly the successors to those camp counselors of yore. Although it’s only been four days thus far, the group has already been introduced to a dizzying array of new information and resources and we’re tossing around terms that would have drawn a complete blank for me just a few short days ago: CMS, metadata, VRA Core, Omeka vs. Scalar vs. Drupal, and on and on. Along with giving me a whole new set of skills to use in my teaching, there’s another outcome that has delighted me as well: amidst all the technical insights I’m acquiring, I’m also thinking in new ways — and with renewed energy — about my work, after a few months of feeling rather uninspired in that respect. I’m jotting down all sorts of notes about my research and noticing connections I hadn’t before considered, and I’m even thinking about a quick research trip I’d like to squeeze in before the beginning of the fall semester (which will arrive way too soon for my liking!). This is just to say that, while prior to my arrival I was worried that the process of learning about these new digital techniques would totally tamp down my energy for my own (analog, archival, close looking-based) research, the end result has been quite the opposite. It’s always a relief to find that, rather than flailing wildly, one is doggy paddling quite happily around the pool.

Source: Sink or swim