Innovation is Dead! Long Live Innovation!
It may be unthinkable to reconsider the concept and purpose of innovation and experimentation. In many sectors—including higher ed, corporations, the arts, humanities, and sciences—the creation of the Next New Shiny Thing can have its rewards, both financially and in terms of prestige. Experimental investigations are a key gateway to new knowledge; little learning and insight can happen without such developmental pursuits. At the same time, is there a way to recast innovation so that what is being built is not entirely new or has not been done before but, instead, makes adaptation, reuse, repair, recovery, and maintenance the overriding rationales for any “new” technology? If the needs of future users are at stake, particularly humanities scholars and students as users, then how should we in libraries, presses, archives, and information technology re-think innovation, so that what gets built and what has been built—what gets used and what has been used—evolve and endure rather than fade away and expire? How do we make maintenance the Next New Shiny Thing? This presentation will delve into issues of experimentation, innovation, continuity, and maintenance in the context of digital library (DL) infrastructure and technology, writ broadly, for the humanities. It will highlight DL efforts that present opportunities for recalibrating the meaning and ethos of “innovation, “ and it will surface various current initiatives that may be considered models of maintenance.