Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What is Digital History? Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography
Ayers, Edward L. "The Pasts and Futures of Digital History: Edward L. Ayers." The Virginia Center for Digital History at The University of Virginia. Last modified 1999.
            Ayers recommends that students take advantage of the vast amount of items that are available to them digitally and “embark on research projects that would have been impossible just a few years ago.” Ayers suggests that be working with digital tools students and professional historians will be able to open themselves to a wide variety of tools and be able to complete projects that would never have been possible in the past—especially for amateurs. Digital history can broaden our professional conversation and leave the discussion open to regular users and historians alike. When this article was being written in 1999, Ayers is looking at digital history from what we would consider to be an archaic perspective. Based on this, I would imagine that our resources as historians today would be even more than what Ayers could have expected in 1999.
Cohen, Daniel J., and Roy Rosenzweig. "Digital History | Promises and Perils of Digital History." Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. Last modified 2005.

            Cohen and Rosenzweig have created an easy step by step guide to understanding how to use digital tools to study history. The authors assert that there are seven qualities of these digital tools that make it easier to create digital projects. These are: capability (we can easily store vast amounts of information that would be more difficult with written texts), accessibility (we can share our work with countless groups of people all over the world with just the touch of a button), flexibility (one project can take on several roles; for example, we can change the form or even the language easily), diversity (almost anyone can have access to our work), manipulability (we can use these tools to manipulate our research that may not have been evident to us in any other way, interactivity (can open up dialogue with professionals which may lead to collaboration or useful reviews), and hypertextuality (or work can take on different guises).
"Interchange: The Promise of Digital History." Journal of American History 95, no. 2 (2008): 452-491. doi:10.2307/25095630.

            Cohen’s article takes on the new(ish) field of digital history by taking a look at the meanings behind pedagogy and institutional support as well as how digital history can affect our process of historical research. Cohen also mentions that digital history has different meanings for different people who encounter it.
Seefeldt, Douglas, and William G. Thomas. "What Is Digital History?" American Historical Association Home Page | AHA. Accessed April 13, 2016.
            As mentioned in other sources, the authors assert that digital history is burgeoning field and it also is a tool that opens up history for anyone: the student, the amateur who wants to make a site dedicated to his favorite historical event, the professor,  etc. We have only just begun to explore (as of 2009) what digital history can do for our field. Digital history is defined in this article as “an approach to examining and representing the past that works with the new communication technologies of the computer…” If anyone wants to get involved in digital history it is not enough to just digitize the past, they need to create the opportunity for people to experience history and answer historical questions (such as through GIS). Eventually digital history may change the field entirely and everything we do could be digitized which is why it is important for our students and other burgeoning historians to gain as much access to these digital tools as possible.
Thomas, III., William G. "Is The Future of Digital History Spatial History?" Newbury Library Historical GIS Conference. Last modified March 2004.

            Thomas argues that spatial history and digital history can go hand in hand. Spatial history allows for the researcher to look at history from several different angles—something non digital histories would have a difficult time achieving. This is accomplished through archives, visual maps, graphs, etc. To support his thesis, Thomas quotes Paul Carter’s The Road to Botany Bay: An Exploration of Landscape and History. In it, Carter defines spatial history as something which “does not organize its subject matter into a nationalist enterprise…recognizing that the future is invented.” And “questions the assumptions that the past has been settled for once and for all.” By looking at history through, say, a series of maps, we would have the opportunity to answer questions we may never have even thought of before.
Thomas, III., William. "What is Digital Scholarship? A Typology | William G. Thomas III." Railroads and the Making of Modern America (blog). December 2014.

            Thomas organizes digital scholarship into a typology (as the title suggests). Thomas argues that digital history can be divided into the following: Interactive Scholarly Works (projects that use both archival materials and tools to deal with a critical concern), Digital Projects/Thematic Research Collections (The most well defined of the group that are used to support research, have multiple authors and combine tools and archival materials around a historiographically critical problem), and Digital Narratives (born digitally and feature work of scholarly interpretation which may change with every update if necessary)
White, Richard. "What Is Spatial History?" Spatial History Lab, February 2010, 1-6.

            Spatial history, as defined by White is beneficial because scholars of various backgrounds may have the opportunity to collaborate on one project (undergraduates, visualization specialists, historians, geographers, etc.) Also, the main focus is on visualization instead of text and these visualizations focus on digital history aspects. For example, they should be interactive and/or display data that would be much more difficult to interpret without the use of a computer. Most importantly, spatial history projects should be updated as much as possible and always remains open ended to take advantage of these updates. Spatial history is such an important partner to digital history and just the field of history in general because as a standard definition, historians focus on time and space and what better way to study chronology than through spatial visualizations? (For example, these digital visualizations are the most effective way to view change over time). White also adds many visualizations of his own to the text which is best enhances his thesis. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Reviewing Digital History Annotated Bibliography

Writing and Reviewing History in the Digital Age
Blevins, Cameron. "The New Wave of Review." Cameron Blevins (blog), March 7, 2016. Accessed        April 10, 2016.

In his blog, Blevins is able to discuss clearly why a review of a digital project as almost as important as the project itself. Blevins emphasizes the importance of a review in general in a field that is mostly based on collaboration and peer review. He also delves into why it might be important in understanding the project itself. Not that the project is bad or hard to understand; but who is someone like Blevins who is a nineteenth century American historian able to get a deep understanding of Vincent Brown’s digital project on the Jamaican slave revolt. Does Brown actually do what he is supposed to do? Does he actually demonstrate the narrative in an engaging way? Reviews of digital history projects ranging from the tweet to the scholarly article let us know how the projects fits in with the existing literature and what we are supposed to obtain from the project and use it comprehend a particular subject.

Georgini, Sara. "Reviewing Digital History." The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History      (blog), January 20, 2015. Accessed April 10, 2016.  

This blog is another useful tool for determining the effectiveness of reviewing digital history. Like Blevins, we are reminded that reviews of digital projects help us to understand the larger picture: Where does this project fit amongst the pantheon of sources linked to this topic. The interviewee, Dr. Jeffrey McClurken goes on to explain the importance of digital history and how it is emerging and becoming more and more useful amongst historians (despite the fact that it is nothing new). Because digital history is now being taken advantage of more than ever it more important to be able to understand how to use it effectively.

Dougherty, Jack, and Kristen Nawrotzki. Writing History in the Digital Age.

This book is unique in the fact that it embraces reviews. Readers were able to add their own reviews and have them be seen in the margins of the book. The authors of the book make the argument that most people are not willing to use the internet to take advantage of its most useful sources when it comes to studying history. Tools such as blogs and social media can be incredibly helpful when it comes to presenting research and theories, etc. They have shown this by using digital media to let readers critique and review their work. They make the argument that digital history will eventually change the way of how we communicate with each other even more than it does now.

Gold, Matthew K. Debates in the Digital Humanities. University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

This is another book where readers were encouraged to review the book online. The author seeks to explain what it takes to develop proper digital history knowledge among scholars, etc. For example,  one of the arguments that I focused most on is the chapter by Luke Waltzer “Digital Humanities and the ‘Ugly Stepchildren’ of American Higher Education.” Waltzer refers to the humanities as the “ugly stepchildren” because most universities fail to instill any type of regard for humanities in their students. This chapter and much of this book argues how important the humanities are to students and how, despite popular belief, it can play a large role in their future. Like the title of the book suggests, there many debates (including this one) thoroughly discussed which will help any newcomer to the topic get a better understanding of the field they are about to delve into.

Guldi, Jo, and David Armitage. The History Manifesto. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Although this book doesn’t seem to be well liked among the community of historians (based on the review), in it, Guldi and Armitage attempt to make an argument that history is losing its importance and historians are losing their prominence in the world along with it. The book attempts to give a solution to how we can change that. To solve these problems, authors suggest we return to a “long duree” and focus more on the big picture than a “microhistory”.  The book makes the argument that we shouldn’t get rid of our microhistories altogether; but that we should use them to compare it to the big picture.

Blevins, Cameron. "Mining and Mapping the Production of Space." Journal of American History, June 1, 2014.

Blevins has introduced his work in mapping and explained in very simple terms. The effectiveness of this essay comes from the several interactive examples that the reader can take advantage of while going through. For someone like me who has a difficult time with subject these tools were very effective and emphasizing Blevins ideas on mapping tools, etc. Blevins asserts that “digital methods are not any more or less valid than traditional approaches, but they do provide a different entry point into the historical archive.”

Gibbs, Fred, and Trevor Owens. "The Hermeneutics of Data and Historical Writing." In Writing History in the Digital Age. University of Michigan Press, 2012.;rgn=div1;view=fulltext;xc=1#7.3.

The authors of this essay assert the idea that working with data is exploratory. Most historians are focused on associating that data with math (something that usually doesn’t mix with the historian) or that this data can primarily be used as evidence and evidence only. The effectiveness of this essay is that it reminds us of the variety of ways in which we can utilize data. Even if the digital history project itself is not entirely good or not entirely successful, historians can still use that data to answer various other historical questions. Data also gives us the opportunity for collaboration.
Lichtenstein, Alex, ed. "Reviewing Digital History." American Historical Review, February 2016, 140-86. Accessed April 10, 2016.

This article reviews two different digital history projects: Digital Harlem: Everyday Life, 1915-1930 and Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760-1761: A Cartographic Narrative. Mostly what I was able to obtain from this source (other than the fact the Digital Harlem program faced some problems and harsh critique) was that digital history reviews are helpful when trying to improve research as well as the project as a whole To me, the negatives of these reviews were also prominent in the article as well. The Harlem project was not shown in a favorable light; but it is possible that the review was looking at the project out of context or maybe that the project was not being reviewed in the time period it should have been reviewed in. The project itself appeared to be out of date (not having been updated recently). What I associated most with this article was this question: “Is it possible for a digital history project to be judged unfairly?” and “What constitutes as an unfair judgment?”

McClurken, Jeffrey. "Digital History Reviews." The Journal of American History. Accessed April 10, 2016.

This is a vital set of guidelines for anyone wishing to study the digital humanities. According to Dr. McClurken, “digital projects are complex, and because of versioning and because projects may take directions that the software creators never intended, it raises all kinds of questions.” In this article, many of those questions are answered including: “How do we give credit to every contributor?” and “Should every contributor be recognized for their contribution?”

Sunday, April 3, 2016

History and GIS Bibliography

History and GIS
Abshere, Caitrin, Lucas Farrell, Andrew Feinberg, Thom Humber, Garrott Kuzzy, and Charlie Wirene. "What Could Lee See at Gettysburg?" Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship. By Anne Kelly. Knowles and Will Roush. Redlands, CA: ESRI, 2008. 235-66. Print.

          Despite the fact that the Battle of Gettysburg is one of the highly researched events of the American Civil War, it has been highly scrutinized most specifically General Lee’s order that will eventually lead to his biggest defeat and become known as “Pickett’s Charge.” Researcher Anne Kelly Knowles use a digital elevation model (DEM) in order to create a triangulated irregular network (TIN) using GIS. Knowles’ research and work with GIS has helped historians gain a better look at the battlefield’s original historical landscape. This chapter in Knowles’ book demonstrates how GIS can be used to help answer historical questions that maybe believe to be lost to time or even geography. Knowles recognizes that similar work and geospatial analysis can assist historians in understanding other battles as well and provide “many valuable insights into military strategy, the wisdom of command decisions, and the experience of war.”

Knowles, Anne Kelly., and Geoff Cunfer. "Scaling the Dust Bowl." Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship. Redlands, CA: ESRI, 2008. 95-122. Print.

In this chapter Geoff Cunfer compares his research with the perception of the Dust Bowl as dictated in Donald Worster’s Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930’s. Cunfer argues with Worster’s theory that capitalism and over development of lands played a major role in the Dust Bowl. Cunfer is able to use spatial analysis to determine that not only was plowing during the 1920’s a major cause; but it was the extreme droughts as well. Cunfer is able to map newspaper accounts to find that “dust storms are a normal part of southern plains ecology, occurring whenever there are extended dry periods.” Cunfer shows that it is possible to combine traditional historical research methods (newspapers) with geospatial technology (GIS). Cunfer also shows who one might take advantage of geospatial technology to make an historical argument.

Knowles, Anne Kelly. "GIS and History." Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship. Redlands, CA: ESRI, 2008. 1-26. Print.

In the opening chapter to her book, Knowles introduces GIS as both a “superb tool” as well as something which can be “problematic” for history. This chapter asserts that GIS is superb because “it allows one to visualize the geographic patterns embedded in historical evidence, examine evidence at different scales, aggregate the data from smaller to larger units, and integrate material from textual, tabular, cartographic, and visual sources provided that they share common geographic location” and problematic because it relies on mathematics—an issue for most historians who prefer to focus on images rather than data. I decided to include this chapter in my annotation because it is usual for people like me who needed an introduction to GIS, what it was and how it can be used effectively amongst historians.
Ladurie, Emmanuel LeRoy. "Immobile History." Interview by Alexander Von Lunen. History and GIS: Epistemologies, Considerations, and Reflections 2013: 15-24. Print.

Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie is one of the first to use computers in historical research with his early work focusing on quantitative studies and regional studies. Ladurie admits that even though he has worked with computers in the past he is still more of an “intellectual director” and is still not very practical when it comes to using computers. Ladurie also asserts the importance of collaboration when it comes to digital history because without his team he would not have been able to complete the task at hand (despite the fact that he experienced issues with the students the fact remains that he was not an expert on all aspects that it took to complete the project). Ladurie also talks about a sort of “immobile history” which is how social and economic trends will prevail over a certain length of time (growing cities omitted). Most importantly, these shifts (or lack of) can be seen bet through GIS. For me, Ladurie was able to introduce the positives and negatives that go along with studying history geographically or through geospatial technology.

Lünen, Alexander Von, and Charles Travis. "GIS and History: Epistemologies, Reflections, and Considerations." History and GIS: Epistemologies, Considerations and Reflections. N.p.: Springer Netherlands, 2013. 173-93. Print.

In this essay by Charles Travis we are asked to decide if GIS methodologies will one day become known as some great scientific advancement and whether or not it will change the way we learn and study history. I have been asked this question several times through various readings and it would appear that so far the answer to this question is: yes, of course. Travis claims that, despite the hesitancy of historians to fully embrace digital technology when studying history, we have used similar tools for many years; now we can just do it on the computer whereas before that was not a possibility. I appreciate the inclusion of the various time-space maps that were constructed in order to demonstrate the life paths of Patrick Kavanaugh. When trying to understand various history concepts I find it most useful to see visualizations as well as try to work with the tools myself. The ability to create this map help create a narrative or explain a concept without the use of text.

Olsson, Gunnar. ""Thou Shalt Make No Graven Maps!"" Interview by Alexander Von Lunen. History and GIS: Epistemologies, Considerations, and Reflections 2013: 73-87. Print.

Gunnar Olsson is a human geographer who deals with planning and its consequences looking at the relationship between “distance” and human interaction.  Olsson has spent time looking at the “geographical inference problem” and what we can draw from geographical information. In this interview Olsson asserts that historical maps and GIS should not be considered the same thing despite the fact that, on occasion, they tend to try and answer the same questions. Maps can be used as either a primary or secondary source that will help historians tell a story whereas GIS is something that can be created by itself;  it also important to note that you need several of these maps to create GIS. Olsson also mentions that it is important for the historian to know when it is appropriate to use these digital tools and when it is not. He calls historical geography an attempt at “reading the landscape” and find as many way of understanding as is possible. This is quite useful insight for someone who is trying to understand these various tools especially when it comes to geospatial history. I find this helpful in the same way I find helpful Cunfer’s research on the dust bowl. When is it appropriate to use GIS and when is it not? How can we use these two tools together and what can that ultimately achieve?