I’m on a bike tour these days in west Ireland, with lots of time to think. This is the year in which everything fell apart, so it’s worth reflecting on why and to what end…as if there are answers!
Early in the morning, before I hopped on my bike in Ennis, I published an archive page to thirteen websites I built between 2012 and 2017, all part of a long investment into digital scholarship I and others made over those years. The reason for the archive is that things fell apart: we reached the end of our road of support. It was certainly a risk on my part to convince a small liberal arts school to invest in digital scholarship, and ultimately I failed.
So, riding the backroads of County Clare and reflecting on those five years, I saw success and failure all around me: beautiful stone fences that have stood there for centuries (and admittedly stone fencing is a safe risk), and structures like the one above that surely have a story but no one to tell it. Others have taken risks and failed. All of existence is arguably about taking risks…and usually failing.
We are not done with digital scholarship in the Environmental Studies Program. Our students want, and deserve, to learn tools for today. On this site I will preserve as much of our past investment as I can, for my students’ sake and for mine. And we will continue to teach them digital skills as part of our ENVS curriculum, alongside colleagues on campus who continue to give us support. I am looking forward to this future with our students…a different one than I had expected, now that the lights are effectively out on ds.lclark.edu and their nearly 300 sites, but a viable future nonetheless.
I don’t yet know what lesson there is for me in all this. But I do know that I am not alone: sometimes things fall apart, here in the west of Ireland and back home as well.