probablytom

A library of thoughts and things worth sharing.

RePublica talk addition — Intellectual Appropriation

I gave a talk yesterday at re:publica 2018, where I talked about the relationship between the sciences and the humanities. It was really fun! The conference is still going on and I'm having a great time.

(If you're reading this because you found my site from my talk — hi! And thanks so much for listening!)

It's always the case that, after you've written a talk, you discuss it with people and realise it needs revision. I finished the talk I gave the night before, so I didn't have the chance to go through this part of the redrafting process, and after discussing it today I realised I had something to add to what I'd written.

Specifically, I realised that it might have sounded like I wanted computer scientists to learn what people in the humanities have been learning for ages, and integrate it into our practices today — but this doesn't imply that we'd be involving people in the humanities in the discussion we would actually be having. In fact, it implies that eventually people in tech could potentially supersede them.

This isn't what I wanted to say. I think there's not just value in integrating humanities into the sciences, but in bridging the communication barriers people like C.P. Snow talk about. We also need people in tech who don't necessarily have the background in the humanities that people dedicated to the field learn, but who are able to work alongside those humanities specialists so as to get the benefits of both specialisation and the bridging of our cultural divide.

That's all! But I think it's an important point. There's something that feels a little like cultural appropriation around this interpretation of what I said. I don't want to give that impression; in fact, it's an important point to make that we need to avoid this train of thought!# Re:Publica talk addition: intellectual appropriation I gave a talk yesterday at re:publica 2018, where I talked about the relationship between the sciences and the humanities. It was really fun! The conference is still going on and I'm having a great time.

(If you're reading this because you found my site from my talk — hi! And thanks so much for listening!)

It's always the case that, after you've written a talk, you discuss it with people and realise it needs revision. I finished the talk I gave the night before, so I didn't have the chance to go through this part of the redrafting process, and after discussing it today I realised I had something to add to what I'd written.

Specifically, I realised that it might have sounded like I wanted computer scientists to learn what people in the humanities have been learning for ages, and integrate it into our practices today — but this doesn't imply that we'd be involving people in the humanities in the discussion we would actually be having. In fact, it implies that eventually people in tech could potentially supersede them.

This isn't what I wanted to say. I think there's not just value in integrating humanities into the sciences, but in bridging the communication barriers people like C.P. Snow talk about. We also need people in tech who don't necessarily have the background in the humanities that people dedicated to the field learn, but who are able to work alongside those humanities specialists so as to get the benefits of both specialisation and the bridging of our cultural divide.

That's all! But I think it's an important point. There's something that feels a little like cultural appropriation around this interpretation of what I said. I don't want to give that impression; in fact, it's an important point to make that we need to avoid this train of thought!