Opening session: “The Tidal Wave is Here”

As we emphasized in the opening session, the digital revolution in art historical teaching and scholarship is already here.  In the past few years, we have seen tremendous upheavals in the way we as art historians conduct our research, collaborate with our peers, publish our work and teach our students.  We live, as it was put in a memorable phrase, in a “do-it-ocracy,” where innovators are rewarded for pushing back the frontiers of not just what we know but how we can know it.

As I took it, the conference was set up to channel these upheavals in two specific directions.  The first, “lowering the reputation cost” will look at how we can reduce the professional risk to scholars, especially young ones like myself, for thinking outside the box.  For example, while digital journals are proliferating (more on this in a subsequent post), digital scholarship is often not given proper recognition for tenure and promotion.  The second goal is to harness the truly staggering number of people—hundreds of thousands from all over the world—who are already accessing art history resources on the web so that we can exponentially increase the effect of both our scholarship and our teaching.

Mike Maizels, Predoctoral Fellow, National Portrait Gallery

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