I’m here at the HASTAC conference at the beautiful and only slightly snowy University of Michigan, where Dan Atkins has explained how cyberinfrastructure works from the e-science perspective. He notes that the NSF can’t fund “humanist” endeavors, but is amenable to humanities scholarship as grist for innovative computer science, a point of view emphasized by his highlighting the Google N-Grams Viewer as the best example of corpus computing. The most important aspect of cyberinfrastructure is that it’s more than just providing servers, high-speed connections and systems administration. It’s hard to believe all that is just that, but without support for project management, research development, securing grants, data management and other “squishy support” (that’s my term, not Atkins), all those servers and grid computing assets and cloud storage are underutilized at best, and fancy hood ornaments at worst.
The other point of emphasis I took away from Atkins’ keynote was the growing acknowledgement of the legitimacy of informal learning and scholarship. Citizen scholarship, which has its own panel at the conference, is growing in legitimacy, and that growth was framed well by Cathy Davidson’s earlier keynote, which focused on the changing structure of learning as we transition into the Fourth Information Age.