Find your comet

I haven’t blogged in what feels like a very long time. In the past weeks, I have given the final classes of my locum professorship and returned to a life where I take my bike to go to work (even in February). It turns out to be a much quieter life, even though I had never really had that feeling before I started commuting – everything needs something to be compared to in order to gain its real value, it seems.

Not that I would be bored in any way. In my last week in term (when I had my last commute), I took over the Twitter-account @EnDirectDuLabo for a week

It was originally planned that I would do so a few weeks later, but I jumped in at the last minute to fill a gap, which made this final “let’s-cross-Germany-and-back”-week look very different from what I had expected.

I have also been trying to put some order in my various files and documents (I have been planning a blogpost on bibliography for 2 weeks and preparing myself mentally to switch back to TeX in a month when I will start writing) – and in my ideas. I think that what I am spending most time thinking about right now is the scholarly and social value of open knowledge.

Continue reading “Find your comet”

Blog it like Beckham

When I try to reconstruct what I have been up to since I stopped working on my book, I might be tempted to say “nothing”. As many colleagues came back from vacation, the daily emailing dose has increased progressively, just enough to fill a few more hours per week. And when I don’t keep busy emailing, I contribute frantically to #bloggerfilms, a hashtag accompanying tweets in which you replace part of a movie title by blog/blogger/blogging and make it sound just great. I’d rather not know how many attempts it took me to reach the 4-5 really good ones I take some pride in (plus, to be fair, I have to admit that half of them come from my husband, who has a much greater movie culture than I do). But, like it was said at the monthly meeting of the Berlin DH community (now that I think of it, this happened as well!), “Mareike will have archived all that”, and she will probably pull my numbers out of her blogging hat fairly soon. I fear it revolves around the 50 or so.


It has been a busy twitter week all in all. Three DH events in parallel, with very active tweeting, have proven able to fill a great part of one’s day. Preparing the talk I was getting ready for in parallel turned out to be the one activity requiring the lesser concentration. When you try to follow intense tweeting on one event, you still have to fill in the gaps.

Which remain big, even with a 1o tweets a minute. Having talked or emailed with those who tweeted after the events, I also realized how constructed even a series of tweets on a conference is. Many of the blog entries that were published after #digigw2013 also insisted on the fact that the tweets turned out to be much more critical than what was said during the session, in public and from the public (a list of the blog posts related to the conference can be found here). The gap between the twitter report and the conference reality troubled me. I don’t want to sound too naive. It is not like I take tweets at face value (echoing one of the tweets I thought of but did not send last Saturday: “La Blog (“Tweets are my reality”-Soundtrack) #bloggerfilms”). But I had never realized that what is critically at stake in a conference can be played out on such a little playground as a twitter hashtag. Little might not be the right word there. I think I consider it little because it reminds me of subversive strategies of the late 18th-early 19th century, during which clever people managed to exploit extremely little exposed positions to transmit their message. We are talking here about a footnote, a post-scriptum, a verse with a double meaning. The space for intellectual rebellion is not “little”, in fact, it seems so from the outside and expands in the inside in a parallel universe. The whole difficulty is to transform clever rebellion in institutionalized wisdom. As we all know, we will only have achieved that when we all have tenure.

What have I done to come closer to a fixed position over the past ten days, seriously? I have written a paper for a conference, I have been told that one conference I thought I had a paper in actually never had heard of my proposal, so I get granted the three weeks I had planned to prepare said paper (more time for the book), I summoned the whole team to clean the mess in the index of works and somehow they managed to do it with me understanding about 10% of the debate (did I mention that I love my team?)(even more time for the book), I applied for a fellowship at the German Historical Institute in order to have – time and peace to write the book. And logically I begin to feel bad not to have done one thing for my book during the last ten days. Tomorrow, I write the chapter on how to write a history paper in French. The day after that, I promise, I get back to my book!

And with that, I prove that I am not able to include even one soccer metaphor in a blog post – what a pity!