An answer to the question: “What can you do with a history degree?” (From this post on occupations of Williams College alumni by major, via @YAppelbaum)
A problem is only a problem within a particular context. A solution is only a solution within a particular context. Some branches of natural and social science are more context-aware than others, but it’s the humanities and arts that are hyper-alert to context. If our society is going to have a fighting chance of wrestling effectively with the wide range of problems that we currently face, we need a wide variety of perspectives on how the problems are defined and approached. We need not simply technical descriptions of the problems but humane understandings of how the problems emerged out of a particular context, and a creative envisioning of how we might find a way of addressing (if not solving) problems. — David Voelker, The Gray Box - The Gray Box Blog - The Humanities Know (Part 1)
We operate now in a world where information is endlessly available. It is the cheapest, easiest thing to get hold of, whether you’re pulling links off Twitter or searching the Department of Labor and Statistics. Finding words and research and data is not a big problem. But discerning what is useful, and what is real, is a vital skill.
A worker in the creative economy requires several levels of discernment. The first and easiest might simply be described as filtering, that is, distinguishing between the weird echo chambers of crazy that exist on the Internet and the solid gold of credibly sourced content. I’m sure you all saw some of the bizarre photographs that were going around on Facebook and Twitter during Hurricane Sandy. New York City sparkling under an apocalyptic cloud of doom. Waves breaking high around the Statue of Liberty’s shoulders. Some of it was obviously fake, a lot of it wasn’t. And that’s what it’s like now: Rumor flies through social media like Instagram or Tumblr or Pinterest, spread by individuals meaning to help or disrupt or just to say, “WOW, look at this.” Professional content providers – whether news organizations, public information officers, emergency first responders – distribute these ideas, possibly first reporting them as rumor and then slowly sliding into reporting them as reality. Strange stories and improbable facts enter the vast distributed online database of information that writers search when they sit down to start learning.
How can you help your students learn to distinguish between credible content and utter worthless crap? If you can help them with that, you will have done them, and society, an enormous service. — Jan Bultmann, “Discernment: Advice from a Hiring Manager to Humanities Students and Their Teachers” | 4Humanities
Average Length in Pages of Minnesota Dissertations since 2007, with explanation. History for the win!
Greatest article on @jstor? jstor.org/stable/2852357 Medieval snail battles! i.imgur.com/6E1ebU3.jpg i.imgur.com/rxankUN.png— John Resig (@jeresig) May 6, 2013
The Humane Digital -
by Timothy Burke
As we fear, so we write. Fearful writing is different from covering the bases. It’s building a glass wall around one’s project so that the reader can look at but can’t disturb the pleasant scene within. — William Germano in Do We Dare Write for Readers? - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
The standard dismissal of Twitter as a scholarly tool suggests that no serious argument can be made in 140 characters, and there’s of course a real truth to that. But that dismissal betrays a failure to engage with the ways that scholars actually use Twitter today, and the things that can be done in those 140 characters: scholars share links to longer pieces of writing; engage in complex conversations in real time, with many colleagues, over multiple tweets; and more than anything, perhaps, they build a sense of community. This community is ready with congratulations and sympathy, and is eager to share jokes and memes, but it’s also ready to debate, to discuss, to disagree. More than anything, it’s ready to read – it’s not just a community of friends but a community of scholars, an audience for the longer work in which its members are engaged. — Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Networking the Field | Planned Obsolescence
(via Fiefs to Watch Out For | Houstonia Magazine)
So inflated and elevated is the global image of Marx, whether revered as a revolutionary icon or reviled as the wellspring of Soviet totalitarianism, that it’s unsettling to encounter a genuine human being, a character one might come across today. If the Marx described by Sperber, a professor at the University of Missouri specializing in European history, were around in 2013, he would be a compulsive blogger, and picking Twitter fights with Andrew Sullivan and Naomi Klein. — Jonathan Freedland’s review of ‘Karl Marx,’ by Jonathan Sperber - NYTimes.com
Filing, seventeenth-century style | The Collation -