Tomorrow I’m giving my inaugural lecture entitled "The Monologue in a crowdsourced world: have digital resources rendered the inaugural lecture obsolete?" It's at 6.30 in the Gustave Tuck lecture theatre, if you really want to come.
I can’t say I am really looking forward to it: one of the aspects of inaugurals that I discuss is that they seem deliberately designed to be a frightening ordeal for the person who gives them (and for all I know an ordeal of a different kind for listeners). I was very unenthusiastic about having to do one of these, and could not really work out why. So I did what my old director of studies used to suggest when I was stuck with an essay question: try to examine what it was about this topic at hand that made me uneasy, and write about that.
As a result I decided to examine the phenomenon of the inaugural lecture itself, and consider how well it still works in a digital world. To do this I’ve used the concept of affordances, often employed in the study of interface design and human computer interaction. In essence an affordance is the properly we are aware something possesses and an analysis of affordances can help us decide whether a tool, physical or digital, is fit for the purpose for which we need it. Thus I'm going to consider the affordances of inaugural lectures and of comparable digital resources and see which comes out on top.
I’m going to post the text of the lecture on this blog after tomorrow, and it will be live tweeted and webcast. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what my conclusions are, but here’s a hint- in the end I am a digital humanist.