“Technologist,” I hear you say, “what are YOU doing here?” Which would be a very good question. I am neither an academic, nor do I work in the humanities; my work encompasses the ‘T’ and the ‘E’ of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths,) I am an ‘S’ groupie, and trying to get my head around ‘M,’ but would like to show you how integral the Humanities are to in the life of an incorrigible techie.
Academically, I guess the last contact I had with the Humanities would have been ‘O’ level English Literature. (‘O’ levels were the basic secondary/high school exit examinations in the UK, more years ago than I would like to admit.)
After my library stint, I spent the next sixteen years working for a pump company, initially in technical sales, moving gradually into the world of IT.
The sixteen years ended with a number of significant and simultaneous changes – I quit my job to follow my heart and left England for Australia, to marry my (Australian) fiancée. (Long-distance relationships are painful, believe me, especially when going through onerous visa processes.)
Moving to rural South Australia didn’t put me in a position where I could find regular employment, so these last thirteen years, I have been freelancing as a web/software developer and technology consultant. Technologist is as good a label as any, if you really feel the need to apply labels.
The last few years have been disrupted by chronic ill-health, so I have had to re-think how I work, what is needed to work – and many issues relating to working with a disability. That I have a strong focus on social inclusion, and that I was working in the web accessibility sphere before this all came to pass has been interesting and given me real-life experience and a much better understanding of the issues that people with a broad spectrum of issues face, when interacting with the web, and computer systems in general.
I am now working in a development role for four wonderful clients, one of these being the creation of a Learning Management System (that’s Humanities isn’t it?) Despite impairments, which include not being able to get more than about sixteen working hours in a week, I’m not doing too badly with my business.
So, where do the Humanities fit into my life, what with me being a technologist? I think the answer to that is that being a technologist is my profession – the Humanities are integral to my life, staying sane, and being – just me. [Sidenote: some academics might not agree with this but, for the purposes of this discussion, I am treating the Arts as a subset of Humanities; if it makes you feel any better, I can simplify to “not STEM.”]
It is my goal this week to show just how important the Humanities can be to an academically non-Humanities person. In addition to this goal, I also have a personal agenda – getting people in STEM and people in the Humanities talking to each other; I’ve been reasonably successful as a facilitator between disparate groups in the past – if I can pull this one off, I will be a very happy person indeed. I guess the underlying theme is inclusion – but I will try to cover a mix of topics, to keep things interesting.