The Human in the Digital Humanist

SongzaNot that you care, dear reader, but I woke up this morning feeling awful. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that I probably shouldn’t have come into work this morning. The major factor motivating me was that I had scheduled a sequence of meetings with students who are working on their final projects. It was too close to call between my discomfort and the additional anxiety that it would cause students, so I decided to suck it up.

Morning at our house is the usual chaos of a place where parents and kids are rushing to get ready: reminding, cajoling, coercing, and so on (if you’re from a perfect household where everyone always does everything smoothly and with a sweet smile, I don’t want to hear about it). My illness was a further complication, requiring regular pauses to sit or lie down. But breakfasts were eaten, kids dressed, teeth brushed, lunches made, dog walked, and no one got hurt.

One of the biggest departures from my typical day as a DHer was that I wasn’t able to muster the appetite for my morning espresso. I’ve participated in DayOfDH for five years now, and this will be the first year where I don’t post a picture of my machine. It’s ok, that’s what archives are for, right?

My morning ritual includes a ride on public transit into downtown Montreal where McGill is situated. I’ll occasionally read a print article or something on the iPad, but the thing I enjoy most now is listening to an Audiobook. Most of my colleagues say they find it very challenging to keep up with literature in their field and find time to enjoy fiction for pleasure – audiobooks are my main source for English fiction now. The selection of French audiobooks is terrible, so I tend to have a French book on my night table. Anyway, I can put on my headphones while commuting, fire up the book, look in front of me and immerse myself fully without constantly looking up from a book or ereader, or worrying about elbow space (the metro can get awfully cramped). I recently splurged on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones from Sennheiser – the noise-cancelling is very good (though not the best), but I love not having wires and the sound is phenomenal (not that it makes as much difference when listening to voices on an audiobook). I have to confess that they’re absurdly expensive, but I have a little side business that helps me with treats like these :).

The last step when arriving to my office is to fire up some music. These days I spend the most time in the “Working (No Lyrics)” section of Songza – for instance I’m listening to Instrumental Hip Hop right now.