Cathy N. Davidson, a distinguished scholar of the history of technology and recently appointed to the National Humanities Council by President Obama, is a leading innovator of new ideas and methods for learning and professional development--in school, in the workplace, and in everyday life.
Davidson holds two distinguished chairs at Duke University, the Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, where she co-directs the Ph.D. Lab in Digital Knowledge. She is cofounding director of the 11,000+ member international digital learning network HASTAC (“haystack”), Humanities, Arts, Technology, and Science Alliance and Collaboratory, whose motto is “Difference is our operating system,” and co-directs the annual HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions, which have awarded more than $10 million in grant funding to support 90 innovative projects operating in more than twenty countries. She is a frequent speaker and consultant on institutional change at universities, corporations, non-profits and other organizations, and writes for the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Washington Post, Times Higher Ed
, and many other publications in the U.S. and abroad.
From 1998-2006, Davidson served as Duke’s (and the nation’s) first Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. In that role, she helped develop over seventy collaborative cutting-edge programs, including the Program in Information Science + Information Studies and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience as well as the University Scholars Program (in partnership with and supported by Duke alumna and former trustee, Melinda French Gates). In an effort to design new telecommunications infrastructures to foster interactive learning, distance education, and the translation of specialized scholarship to a general audience, she helped launch Duke’s famous “iPod experiment,” in which incoming students in 2004 were given free iPods in exchange for designing an array of new learning applications for what, at the time, was billed as a “music listening device.” In this program, Duke students held the world’s first academic “podcasting” conference and beta-developed bi-directional broadcasting (what would become iTunes U) and video capacities. She has written about this experiment in the “Project Classroom Makeover” chapter of her influential Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century
(Viking-Penguin, 2011). Now You See It w
as named a "top 10 science book" of the year by Publisher's Weekly
and has been the occasion for over eighty invited lectures in the U.S. and internationally, including in Canada, Australia, Denmark, the UK, Hong Kong, and Thailand
Cathy Davidson is the author of more than twenty books. Her groundbreaking Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America
, was the first study of how the new invention of mass publishing--made possible by steam-powered presses and machine-made ink and paper--contributed to new institutions of democracy and new forms of literacy, education, and social life in post-Constitutional Era American society. “I would not now be a good historian of the Internet,” Davidson has said, “if I had not been trained as a historian of the book.” Her work on the earlier Information Age has helped shape her work in The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age
(with HASTAC cofounder David Theo Goldberg).
In 2012 Davidson was named the first educator on the six-person Board of Directors of Mozilla, the leading provider of free cutting-edge software, and she received the 2012 Educator of the Year Award (with David Theo Goldberg) from the World Technology Network for "Visionary Contribution to Science and Technology in Education.”
Davidson blogs regularly as Cat in the Stack on hastac.org. You can follow @CathyNDavidson on Twitter.
Click here to download the academic CV for Cathy Davidson.
ASTAC stands for Humanities, Arts, Sciences, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory. Everyone just says “Haystack.” I started it in 2002 with David Theo Goldberg and a dozen or so of the top experts in all the fields named in that long acronym. We came together because we believe that the Information Age is way too complicated for any one field, any one discipline, any one area of life.
The historian Robert Darnton likes to say that, in all human history, there have only been four great Information Ages. The first came in 4000 BC, in ancient Mesopotamia, with the invention of writing. The second came in 10th century China and then later in 15th century Europe with Gutenberg and the invention of moveable type. The third came around the time of the American Revolution (this was my original field of expertise, by the way) with steam-powered presses, machine-made ink and machine made paper. For the first time in human history, books were cheap enough that ordinary people could afford to buy them. Circulating libraries were invented and that meant even the poor could read. Mostly they read popular novels, the “video game of the 18th century.” (Some of the Founding Fathers were sure books would distract youth, lead to violence and promiscuity, render them unfit for gainful employment—all those bad things now blamed on video games).
Literacy and all kinds of literary forms, including newspapers, changed in the third Information Age just as they are changing in humanity’s Fourth Great Information Age, our own era, where the Internet and the World Wide Web have made the transformations faster and more global than anyone (including its inventors) every dreamed possible. HASTAC is dedicated to rethinking learning, in and out of school, for our own Information Age. It’s free, voluntary, a network of networks, that has grown from an idea to a movement—about 5000 individual members, including almost 200 graduate and undergraduate students (HASTAC Scholars) nominated and supported with scholarships from over 75 institutions. Warning: it’s mostly academics, “hacktivists,” and geeks of all types. If that describes you, join us at www.hastac.org
. If you register to the site, you are a member.