Curiosity to Objectivity

I find there is a serious flaw in academics strait-laced pursuit of “objective truth” as a holy grail, not only in the humanities but even in the ‘hard’ sciences.  No one start out with a cold research question, and anyone who claims to do so is wrong. In the course of reading a students partial MA draft,  I wrote this, which isn’t perfect but it is, I think, something I’m happy to hang out in public on the issue.

“objectivity – I think no researcher is objective; everyone starts form the point of finding something interesting. There then a journey, from “I’m interested in digital humanities’ through admitting honestly  “I’m interested because I get a childish delight out of playing with the tech toys” to “How can we make better use of the technology to empower learners”

Now this is entirely relevant because post-enlightenment academic discourse demands that we speak only of the third state there, and makes any admission of playful engagement a contemptible weakness. If its fun, it can’t be scholarly, because scholars must be SERIOUS, and OBJECTIVE. My journey with technology began, at least in real life, when I was about 14 and got to work on a computer in school, and linked to my love of scifi and Star Trek because in front of that green screen with the clicky buttons – I WAS SPOCK! Oddly enough, that fits perfectly with my interest in using digital tools to empower learners – I don’t think it requires much thought to see how that links up. So, the borrow a colleagues  much used phrase, ‘What’s my point here?” Well, in very loose Jungian/Campbell terms, I have a perfectly balanced little “heros quest”, internally coherent and psychologically satisfying in which my subjective playing with tech is cosy with my academic interests, and I can be publicly comfortable with that. I do it because its fun, and it is fun which happens to be socially useful for at least some of my fellow humans.

So, yes, not only is it perfectly right to discuss your journey with the digital from curiosity, through frustration to (towards) a sort of mastery, but I think it is actually essential to your overall argument that you make that point.”






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