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. 

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