Roundtable Interview with Dr. Jim Brown

Matt Breece

Alumni, Events

Jim Brown sitting at a table behind a laptop computer, looking to his right with a joyful smile.

As part of the DWRL’s first Alumni Network Event, the Lab hosted a roundtable interview with Dr. Jim Brown on March 30, 2017. The roundtable was led by Program Coordinator Will Burdette, and joined by Assistant Director Sarah Frank and Staffer Sarah Welsh.

In this roundtable interview, Dr. Brown reflects on how his time as a graduate student in the DWRL prepared him for a career in digital rhetorics and to direct the Digital Studies Center at Rutgers University-Camden, as well as informed his pedagogical practices and developed his research interests.

The full audio recording is available below. Here are a few highlights:

Dr. Brown discusses how the emphasis in digital labs is shifting from acquiring expensive technology to providing space for collaboration and conversation in which modular and mobile furniture becomes more important than rows of computers (15:00).

In the transition from the digital lab as computer room to digital lab as collaborative space, he poses four guiding questions:

  • can people move through space effectively?
  • can people meet easily?
  • can people incubate ideas?
  • do people have programming that allows them to incubate those ideas?

In response to a question posed by Sarah Welsh, Dr. Brown discusses the strategic decisions he made as a graduate student and offers some advice (1:00:07):

  • travel to conferences and build relationships.
  • think about miniature achievements as steps toward the next thing.
  • strategically write conference papers as part of larger projects.
  • write 250 words a day as the first thing you do.

Other pieces of noteworthy advice from earlier in the interview (48:40):

  • tinker and play endlessly with things like code or physical computing.
  • build collaborative relationships with people outside of your field and department.

This is just a snippet of the invaluable observations Dr. Brown shared with us; please enjoy the entire recording.

Feature Image: “Dr. Jim Brown” by Amy Tuttle.

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