For the past two weeks, I’ve had the great privilege of presenting ideas (ranging from the institutional and professional to the scholarly and creative) in a series of six public lectures in four cities across New Zealand and Australia. These were invited talks and keynotes at events as diverse as: a project-specific and infrastructure-oriented workshop at Victoria University, Wellington; a joint DH and library Information Futures forum at the University of Melbourne; two gatherings geared toward archivists, curators, and arts and design faculty at schools and cultural heritage institutions in Canberra; and a thought-provoking digital editing symposium at Sydney Uni. The visit was was break-neck, whirlwind, and a great deal of fun, mostly thanks to my splendid hosts Sydney Shep, Craig Bellamy, Tim Sherratt, and Mark Byron. It didn’t hurt that it was summertime and end-of-term in the southern hemisphere, with the journey framed by a sparkling harbor in Wellington (which, it’s true, you can’t beat on a good day) and another in Sydney.
Happily, the visit afforded me an opportunity to learn from and better understand the values and working conditions of the Antipodean digital humanities community, members of whom I had only met before as exotic and sometimes jetlagged creatures out of their natural habitat. I considered it excellent timing and came to care about these folks, because they show a great deal of energy just now, not only for enlivening humanities scholarship through digital tools and methods, but for organizing — creating stronger local networks and a broad, new Australasian professional society for scholars and practitioners of the digital humanities: the first in the hemisphere. This could be an initiative that partners with ACH, which I represent, and stands on par with SDH-SEMI as a vibrant regional DH organization and potential ADHO collaborator. You should care, too. Here’s why.