Columbia's Group for Experimental Methods in the Humanities
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We believe in presence. Regular “open lab” sessions (on Friday afternoons from 3-5pm, at Butler Studio 208b) are a key way to get involved and to stay in touch. Use the time to work on your projects, learn new skills, share expertise, or just catch up on our own work. There are no requirements to attend.

Modalities of Engagement

We would like to maintain a conscious and engaged environment in the lab, sensitive to the dynamics of power—gender, sexuality, class, race—particularly as they manifest in spatial and temporal imbalances of participation. With this goal in mind, we actively promote the following practices:

  1. Architectures of power—be mindful of the room’s physical arrangement. At the beginning of lab, long tables should be broken down into smaller islands of activity. Locations of power, such as the lectern or the center of the room, should be systematically ceded and inverted.

  2. Economy of attention—think carefully of other people’s time. Yield the floor and delegate authority. Come to definite conclusions that let people know that you are done. Conversations should move to various islands. Structure and preparation is a sign of respect for your audience. Ask questions. Listen more than you speak.

  3. Polyglossia—help bring a multiplicity of voices into the space. Allowing other voices to be heard means also moderating one’s own. Be aware of the strength and the reach of your voice. Soliloquies should be punctured by moments of quietude and reflection, giving time and space to those hesitant to join in the discussion. Watch for cues of others trying to speak but being interrupted or denied the opportunity.

  4. Peer Learning—avoid long explanations and pontificating. We want to facilitate peer learning. Allow others the opportunity to figure it out on their own.

  5. Ethics of shared labor—make labor visible. Keep a manifest of project work done, to the extent possible. Be aware of credit hierarchies. Prioritize the exposure of junior colleagues. In public, credit the involved collectives and encourage others to read through the records carefully for granular attribution.

Electronic Frontier Alliance

In addition to these principles, we are a member of Electronic Frontier Alliance, a grassroots network of community and campus organizations that advocate for free expression online: security, privacy, creativity, and access to knowledge.

Last edited on 10/03/17. Change log here.