(This is the blog post I’ve put up on the Day of DH site – where Digital Humanists all over the world are telling people what they are up to on a specific day. Me, I’m working hard in a different way, on holiday).
This Day of DH sees me not doing much DH at all… but yet. I’m on holiday, on the second week of the school easter break, with my three young boys, in Scotland, staying with family. I wasn’t going to blog anything at all – but then, hey, this is part of my life as a DHer too, right? Its not just about the work, its about what you do elsewhere? But can you actually switch off from DH, from work, when you are away?– at least, it seems not that way if you are an academic.
So what did we get up to today? Not a bad night, up only three times (two night terrors and one sea shanty) and then woken early to a boy shouting “Mummy! Robot! Monkey!” repeatedly. A slow walk to the shop for papers and sweeties, some playing with watering cans, a trip to a garden centre to meet an old friend and her kid for coffee, a visit from my Aunt. The endless cleaning and tidying and management of stuff which comes with having three small people, roll calls to ensure people have their shoes and their stuffed animals from one stop to the next. Highlights included driving alongside a wind farm for a mile or so and the boys shouting “BIG. WINDMILLS! BIG. WINDMILLS!” – lowlights include turning my back for two minutes and seeing Twin Two up 8 feet in the air on something he shouldn’t be climbing on in the garden centre – tuts from other parents in the vicinity very forthcoming.
Its not like I haven’t thought about work. I find it very difficult to switch off when on holiday – it takes me about a week to stop sending myself emails reminding me to do X, Y, and Z when I get back. I’m on the twitters – I find hanging out on twitter gets me through the day when looking after the three weans all day and all night, especially if they are up through the night – and today of all days, it was fascinating to see twitter erupt and turn and shift around a news item. The asynchronous nature suits having a quick shufty at quiet moments – seconds – in the parenting day. But I haven’t been on work email for a week or so, and wont be for another week or so. Usually I’m glued to it, answering emails at all times of the day, but its important for me to step back from it a few times a year. I popped on there a couple of days ago to action something time-limited and laughed at all the emails that had come in setting me deadlines I hadn’t agreed to that I will miss in my absence. Meh – I’m usually quick on the mark but this week? I’m teaching my twins how to do forward rolls instead.
As I do more and more managerial work in my role at UCL Centre for Digital Humanities I wonder really how much of my interaction with computing is through email. (Most of it now). I’m a professional email answerer, really. Been a while since I implemented something myself. I wonder, amidst all the arguments about should DHers code, etc, how the whole “can code, but manages coders” fits in. But this week, I’m not even answering email. Oh no. I’m on holiday. I’m away. And goodness, it is good to step away from email, that harsh, thankless taskmistress. But if I’m not on email…. I am a DHer any more?
But its not like I haven’t thought about work. It’s the blessing/curse of academia: obsessive compulsive behavior is rewarded, and its hard to switch off the obsession. So in the past week or so I’ve been ruminating on next steps, projects I’m undertaking, research I should do next, blog posts that are brewing, in between having cups of tea at my grandparents or visiting my cousins or dandling poorly boys at 3am. Everything you can do when you are not on email. The nice stuff online and offline, without the work email.
It’s not that I haven’t thought about work. Heck, I even blogged for the Day of DH. An example of the blended life style us DHers live: how hard it is to get away, even when you are away, how connected we all are, how it’s all a balancing act.
So I’m not sure that this is a blog post. I’m not sure that this is a holiday. I don’t know what it is… must be DH, then.