Communication has been radically altered by the digital, often in ways that are surprisingly complex. Due to this radical alteration, it has become crucially important for scholars, librarians, and general ICT users to understand how the digital space we so often inhabit transforms the way we write, create, and interact. These ideas are all explored in Adam Heidebrink-Bruno’s blog post “Claiming Ground in the Absence of Space: a #digped chat”. The blog post, created to provoke a discussion centered around how users interact with the “radically new environment” (Heidebrink-Bruno, 2014) the digital context provides, makes some intriguing assertions of its own.
Heidebrink-Bruno is an educator and Assistant Editor for Hybrid Pedagogy, you can check out his full CV on his website HERE. He publishes on a variety of subjects including teaching and learning technology, the impact of digital space on scholarship, and Digital Humanities more generally (you can check out his publications HERE). His experience and research interests allow him to provide a unique and refreshing commentary related to the user and how they conceive of, and interact with, digital space.
Heidebrink-Bruno begins the post by drawing parallels between an episode of the Sci-Fi television show Doctor Who and communication in the digital context. Admittedly, any article that references Doctor Who in such an astute manner immediately captures my attention. However, the analogy of interspecies communication and Heidebrink-Bruno’s statement that users navigate the digital context “[a]s 3-dimensional beings, [wandering] into and through a nebulous, digital landscape” (2014) paints an intriguing picture. The post goes on to explore how users imagine digital space, and how these conceptualizations often mislead our understandings of the forces that mediate digital communication. The post concludes with a series of questions readers should consider when thinking about the differences between the physical and digital world, and how we negotiate between the two.
The observations presented in Heidebrink-Bruno’s post build on one another, ultimately creating a cohesive presentation of the potential challenges users face when entrenched in the digital context. However, it was the author’s finally observation that stood out most to me, Heidebrink-Bruno states: “digital phantoms – algorithms, bots, and self-modifying code – transgress our neat definitions of what constitutes reality” (2012). The statement forces the reader to understand the invisible forces acting on digital creations and publications. Be it scholarly writing, a blog post, or even a Youtube video, a work existing in a digital space does not stand unmediated or alone. Ultimately, these ‘digital phantoms’ become collaborators in a sense, contributing to the idea that all digital creations are communal in one way or another (Morris, 2012).
“digital phantoms – algorithms, bots, and self-modifying code – transgress our neat definitions of what constitutes reality” (Heidebrink-Bruno, 2012)
While this blog post presents facts and arguments meant to resonate with all digital users, I cannot help but to perceive it as particularly relevant to scholars, librarians, and students. When we think about how scholarly work has shifted in the wake of its migration to the digital realm, and its implication for important academic processes such as peer review (Cavanagh, 2012) and scholarly collaboration, it becomes clear how important Heidebrink-Bruno’s arguments are. Ultimately, “Claiming Ground in the Absence of Space: a #digped chat” provides an intelligently structured jumping-off point for a discussion that is essential to a variety of audiences and disciplines. The arguments presented push users and creators to understand their digital surroundings in unconventional ways and push beyond conventional ideas of space. Overall this post works to expand the reader’s ability to create and collaborate more effectively in a digital world that is, at times, difficult to navigate and even more difficult to quantify.
Cavanagh, S. (2012, December 19). Living in a Digital World: Rethinking Peer Review, Collaboration, and Open Access. Retrieved June 15, 2015, from http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/1-4/living-in-a-digital-world-by-sheila-cavanagh/
Heidebrink-Bruno, A. (2014, November 5). Claiming Ground in the Absence of Space: a #digped chat. Retrieved June 15, 2015, from http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/announcements/claiming-ground-absence-space-digped-chat/
Morris, S. M. (2012, October 8). Digital Writing Uprising: Third-order Thinking in the Digital Humanities. Retrieved June 15, 2015, from http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/journal/digital-writing-uprising-third-order-thinking-in-the-digital-humanities/