Wednesday, September 19
Small Hall, Helsinki University, 9:15
I woke up very gently this morning, after a full night’s sleep, and noticed that the sky had brightened. I wore my new jacket as I cycled to the metro station.
I got to Kaisaniemi at about 8:40 and walked down Fabianankatu to number 33 when I met Riku. We got to the small hall on the fourth floor to find Nathalie and Tore sitting there waiting for the event to start. We joined them and then fifteen or so more people entered and sat down.
Carl-Gustav Lindén introduces the morning at some length and I attempt to take a photograph of him doing so. The light, and the inability of my iPad to deal with it, results in a photograph that turns the dull white room into some kind of faded fairyland. Looking at the image I suspect that the Gnome King might appear later in the morning. Looking up at the actual room again I begin to doubt it.
After the introduction Carl Heath, from RISE in Sweden, will give the first presentation. He will make some interesting points while seeming too liberally rational, in that he will speak repeatedly of negotiations between states, citizens, and the private companies that control our data, as though everyone involved has honest intentions of a decent sort.
The second presentation will come from Mike Friedrichsen, who has spent the summer starting the Berlin University of Digital Sciences. He will speak as rapidly as any snake oil salesman I have ever heard, and throw out phrases like “Platform thinking is our core organisational form” and “we stand for digital competence, digital communication, and the digital value chain”.
Apparently his new university, which will offer only Masters and Doctoral degrees, will generate “a reflexive teaching that affects its effects”, as indeed it probably should.
The second half of the morning will consist of reports from various researchers at Helsinki University about how digitalisation affects, or forms part of, their research. I will find the final presentation the most interesting. In this Jani Marjanen will discuss “how digitalisation affects history (and maybe also historical research)”.
He will talk about the effects of digitising Finnish newspapers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Before this happened historical research made little use of newspapers. After it happened searching through the newspapers’ digital archives became one of the most popular research approaches. The material had already existed for researchers to use. Its sudden appearance online, where researchers could view it without leaving their desks, however, greatly increasing its perceived importance and the frequency of its use.
He will point out that the old cliché stated that “the winners write history”. We might now say that the winners determine what gets digitised, and what gets digitised gets used to write history.
At 12:00 I will leave Helsinki University and head to Arcada, where I will find Jutta trying to manage a day in which she teaches one course from 9:15 until 13:00 and then teaches another course from 13:15 to 17:00.
I will write up some notes and create accounts in Cloud 9 for the CMS students. I will exchange emails with Oliver and Ilpo, and then notice how tired I feel.
At 15:30 I will leave to meet Naa for coffee in Itis.