Sherratt, Tim: Unremembering the forgotten: Digital Humanities 2015 keynote

Sherratt, Tim

Unremembering the forgotten: Keynote address, Digital Humanities 2015, University of Western Sydney, 3 July 2015

The article looks at some aspects of the history of science in Australia, including how we have been visited by scientists from overseas. But the article’s more fundamental concern is with how parts of our history come to be remembered and documented or unremembered and undocumented – or simply what happens to them when they fit ‘uncomfortably alongside more widely promulgated visions of Australia’s past’.

Michael Piggott, Honest History’s Treasurer, has more:

Tim Sherratt was the product of a boutique gene pool formed in the mid 1980s around Professor Rod Home, a science historian at the University of Melbourne, and his archivist protégé, Gavan McCarthy. They and those gathered around them were science historians, IT specialists and players, archivists and librarians passionate about Australian science and its documentation. They quickly identified weaknesses in national science information infrastructure including scientists’ biographies and their archives, and did something about it. Their approach was new at the time: raise funds to locate, survey, build finding aids, and negotiate with collecting institutions to house them. They didn’t worry too much about bureaucratic niceties or the traditional boundaries between libraries, archives and museums. They were not shy and retiring. They offered students needing work experience a start. They were agile and innovative and early adopters.

It is too early to assess the real impact of these folk, for they continue to evolve, but the eScholarship Research Centre at Melbourne and Tim Sherratt’s CV provide good clues. Tim is now Associate Professor, Digital Heritage within the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra, where he moved having led the National Library’s Trove service for a number of years. At UC, he self describes as ‘a historian and hacker who researches the possibilities and politics of digital cultural collections’.

Tim’s LinkedIn profile summary is just as richly succinct: ‘I use online technologies in innovative ways to help people access the holdings of archives, libraries and museums’. His main personal website has existed since the early 1990s and provides a final source of information worth mentioning. It again hints at the mind at work, its tag lines ranging from ‘purveyors of fine ideas’ to ‘working for the triumph of content over form, ideas over control, people over systems’.



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