I have a problem. I don’t understand a lot of the techno-speak that’s being presented in the blogosphere. I’m pointing out Carl’s blog because he has a beautifully written sentence* that I just didn’t understand. Carl is writing in a technological context and speaking a language I don’t understand. Because I don’t understand the language, I can’t find the point he’s making, and it all becomes just so many words on a screen.
There’s an expectation of expertise here. By admitting my lack of expertise, I run the risk of losing the respect of my peers. These conversations are going on way over my head, so much so that sometimes I don’t know what question to ask. I have been intimidated away from asking a question. There is some wonderful writing out there, but does pretty prose matter when your audience just doesn’t get it?
I don’t feel that I can ask questions that I think sound stupid. I should be able to ask other historians the “stupid” question and know I’ll get a respectful response. My concern is that I’ll get a belittling response.
We need to be able to have a professional discourse on the issues at hand. That discourse needs to include space to admit confusion and ignorance, to ask a question without fear of ridicule, and to receive a respectful answer. We should expect professionalism and courtesy from our fellow historians and we should provide the same to them.
This issue is the elephant in the room. I am missing opportunities to learn. Please comment!
*Here’s the beautifully written sentence: “Norton discusses some of the cloud-computing-esque notions of digital cross-walking of standards-based data indices.”