At HASTAC 2017

Following my interest on the intersection between design practices and the “digital humanities”, last November I attended for the first time the HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) conference held at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. During the opening panel (Pudom Lindblad, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and T-Kay Sangwand, with Anastasia Salter as moderator). I heard some though provoking questions and ideas that I’ll like to write down here before I forget. The conversation revolved around the role of technological infrastructures, specially related to archives where one of the key questions was: Can an interface be designed through an ideology? The conversation went on to how an interface affects the content and how power claims are made when naming something, making reference to metadata in archives. Some reference to dismantling white supremacist ideologies from archives was made and also the process of involving communities in generating tags of objects in archives.

I’ll make a short summary of meaningful things I saw and heard during the rest of the conference:

  • In a conversation about the “digital turn” in different disciplines someone said “you will make more to your discipline if you get out of it”. I believe this was said by Julie T. Klein, quoting some else.
  • The Digital History Lab at Bard College showed local history project involving the community to produce an archive. Collecting stories about a specific county and using existing platforms to connect, the project gave a sense of voice to inhabitants while creating a historical record.
  • The Citizen Science Project (Funded by NSF and University of Central Florida) working in Belize uses participatory methodologies to use local knowledge to include in GIS systems and support disaster management. At the time I saw this presentation, it’d been less that two months after Puerto Rico had been hit by hurricane Maria. The difficulty of getting help to isolated areas made me think of the possible impact a project like this could have after a disaster.
  • A collective google doc was created during the conference and participants added projects and resources to share with all.

I enjoyed the experience of being outside of a design-centered community and to my surprise found at least four other graphic designers attending the conference.