Impact of Digital History on Historians and on the Practice of History

Prior to reading these articles I was not aware how studying and teaching history has changed do to the Digital Age. One main development in the Information Age is the increasing amount of primary sources that many people all over the world can access. The article about the Digital History Reader by E. Thomas Ewing and Robert P. Stephens shows how teachers are using technology to provide their students with access to primary sources as well as providing them with the tools to ask questions and reach conclusions. The goal of the Digital History Reader is to provide primary sources and show how historians draw conclusions from them. I think that this is a very useful and important digital project because it allows large amounts of students the ability to learn how to analyze primary sources to understand history.

In Stefan Tanaka’s “Past in a Digital Age,” he discusses the changes that are occurring in how historians write and study history. I agree that the amount of historical information can affect how historians value history and also make scholars question why they have done things. History has not always been studied the way it is today. For example, the study of social history did not really exist until the second half of the twenty-first century. Tanaka also believes that the digital age will create a more inclusive historical narrative where the forgotten stories of the past can be told. Although I think this is a bit optimistic it is clear that technology has and will change the discipline of history for years to come.

Week 11: Update

We are making a lot of progress uploading metadata and images of the diaries to the site. Our group has been discussing and updating each other on how we are formatting our information so that there is a sense of consistency throughout the site. For example, we have chosen to use dates for the title of each diary page using the format of month, day, and year such as August 1st, 1862. We chose this format because it is similar to how Gordon titles most of his pages. To help us decide on information to add to the metadata we are using the Omeka Library guide that was made by Carolyn Parsons in special collections. The only major issue we have had is that when we started uploading images they were not showing up but that issue has been resolved.

I am still trying to find the pension record on Stephan Gordon but the national archives that should have it takes several weeks to get the copy back to you and also it costs money. At this point, I think having the index record that I found included in the page about Gordon would be beneficial because interested people could do further research to track down his pension based on the information on the index record.

We have a lot of work ahead of us still but I think we are making good progress and I personally am learning a lot about the decisions a group has to make when formatting information because everyone can do it their own way.

Week 10: Text Mining, Topic Modeling, and Searching in History

I found the readings very interesting and came up with some ideas to possibly incorporate in our Civil War diaries project. Wlliam Turkel’s “Digital History Hacks,” explained that different words and forms that people used to search history. It never occurred to me to think about what search terms were popular. If we can figure out what common search terms have been used to research civil war soldiers then we can use them in our site to get more visitors. Turkel says that most people use adjectival forms to search different histories. So in our case we could possibly use things similar to Civil War history. Although Turkel’s research does not necessarily include every search term it is a very interesting concept. The readings and site that discussed topic modeling also gave me the idea that we could do some topic modeling for the diaries because there are so many entries. Our topics could include some of our tags that highlight major themes in the diaries. I think that topic modeling adds a lot to sites and projects that are databases because it shows the main themes in an inventive way.

The reading about google made the argument that the internet is reprograming our brains and making them weaker. I agree that due to the internet has led to writing and reading being shorter but the author does not clearly point out that the internet also creates a larger amount of data. Not only have people been able to document more information than ever it has also become easily accessible to many more people.

Week 8: Digital Resume and Update

I created my resume with the idea that it could be used by potential employers to see my work in a professional and creative way. My site includes an about page, examples of my research, a resume timeline and a pdf version of my resume. The research projects I have included are focused around the study of the art and history of early modern Europe because I would like to pursue something related to that field. My resume timeline has pictures and information about my work and educational experience. I also have a slideshow with my photos from my travels. I chose my header photo (Hampton Court Palace) because I am a very interested in English Tudor and Stuart history. I chose the colors because I thought they matched the picture.

http://research.jamesstewartumw.org/

I started developing a bibliography for our site so that we can start working on how we want to cite our sources for our project. I am also using this information for the timeline as well as information we are finding about Steven Gordon. Are main goal for the next few weeks is to  upload the image files and enter metadata.

 

Five Lessons Learned About Digital Identity

After reading and exploring Jess Reingold’s web site: http://jessicareingold.com/, Footprints in the Digital Age by Will Richardson, and Who Owns the Digital You? (Three Parts), I learned these lessons about digital identity:

  1. There is the “real-you” and the “digital-you” but they are interconnected.
  2. Your digital self can be larger than your real self because of the amounts of bytes.
  3. Oversharing or creating too much of a digital presence could jeopardize your privacy.
  4. Your digital identity is a way for you to express yourself while communicating and collaborating with the outside world. You can create an online resume or portfolio that shows your interest and experience and you can talk to friends, family and even strangers.
  5. It is up to the individual what and how much of a digital identity a person wants to have depending on how much they want to share and communicate.

Week 7: Update

Although the snow day last week meant that we lost scanning time we officially only have one more diary to scan. My group and I are excited that the scanning process is almost done and Mrs. Chase has helped us alot throughout the process. I have scanned thirty pages of the last diary and we have started converting the tiffs into pdfs and jpgs. I have also started doing research on events that occurred during the periods Gordon wrote the diaries to include in the timeline. We were having a little trouble getting TimelineJS to show up correctly on our website but I think we have fixed it. We are also starting to setup our website and will begin to enter the diaries as items with their metadata soon. I have also begun looking for Civil War images of Fredericksburg to include in our project on the timeline or in the summery of the Civil War in Fredericksburg.

I feel like our group is doing good and keeping on track. The scanning took a little longer then we expected due to us missing a day and since we all have to use the same machine only one person can scan at a time. I think we are back on track and our next step is to start getting things uploaded to our website. Have a great break everyone!

Wikipedia and Copyright

I mostly looked at Wikipedia pages about British history. Overall, the more popular topic of history such as “Henry VIII” had more comments and the less known topic had fewer comments. Many of the conversations seem to get very heated such as the spelling of “Stewart” in the “House of Stuart” page. Sometimes the comments were very aggressive urging the writer of the edit to produce a source to back up their argument. Many of the edits and comments seemed genuine and brought up some good issues. I was happy to find that most of the edits that were not correct were rejected which I thought was good. Although details of most of the topics are lacking the Wikipedia pages I looked at provide a good overview of historical events and people.

I am not sure exactly how we could use Creative Commons for our project. We could CC our scans so that people can reuse them for educational purposes but I assume we should discuss that with the National Park Service since they own the diaries. According to chapter seven of Cohen and Rosenzweig it says that we do not need to place a copyright notice on our work which I agree with since in our about page we can clearly layout who we are and our project. One thing I could see us having a copyright discussion about is anything (images, videos, etc.) we use from the National Park Service but since we are helping them by digitizing their diaries I don’t think it will be an issue.

Week 5: Update and Progress

We have our contract approved! Now it is time to get to work. This week our Civil War diaries group finished scanning all the transcripts we have and we started scanning the diaries. Suzanne Chase has been extremely helpful with the scanning process and helping us use the Cobra, a rare book scanner. She also made a spread sheet on the desktop of the lab computer so we can keep tract of who is doing which diary. I really enjoy using the Cobra but it took a bit to figurer out how it works but I think I got the hang of it now. On Thursday, I got through 37 pages of a diary and Ms. Chase said that I can come in next Thursday to work on scanning the diaries some more. We met with Catherine Perdue at the library and she gave us some great information about plugins for Omeka. She suggested we use the page turner plugin instead of Scripto so we will have to test that out. Ms. Perdue is also going to send us directions on how to use the page turner plugin. She also gave told us about plugins that allow the user to mass enter metadata which will be very helpful because our diary pages are all going to have similar metadata. Our main goal at this point is to get all the diaries scanned over the next two weeks so that we can upload them to Omeka and start testing out these plugins.

Building an Audience

As we have discussed in class, an audience is key to a successful web site because if no one visits the site then there is not much of a point in making it. When I stated to think about building an audience I thought about how I am part of the audience of the sites I visit. When I enter a site it is usually from a link or from the results of me googling a certain term. Occasionally I hear about a site from other people or via social media such as Facebook. I tend to use sites that are organized and easy to navigate. Keeping my personal interaction with the internet in mind I think that creating a digital project that uses frequently searched terms and using social media to spread the word that the web site exists will ensure its success. For our Civil War diaries project we are planning to make a site that is easy to navigate whether you enter from the main screen or a specific dairy page. Since we are working mostly with primary sources it is important that we make the site easy to follow and not too complicated so the visitor can find what they are looking for. My group and I believe our main audience for the site will be scholars and educators that will use it for academic and educational proposes. We anticipate that many other people will visit our site such as people interested in the Civil War and visitors to the National Park Service. The main goal for our website is to educate our visitors about Steven Gordon and the importance of primary sources.

Building an Audience

As we have discussed in class, an audience is key to a successful web site because if no one visits the site then there is not much of a point in making it. When I stated to think about building an audience I thought about how I am part of the audience of the sites I visit. When I enter a site it is usually from a link or from the results of me googling a certain term. Occasionally I hear about a site from other people or via social media such as Facebook. I tend to use sites that are organized and easy to navigate. Keeping my personal interaction with the internet in mind I think that creating a digital project that uses frequently searched terms and using social media to spread the word that the web site exists will ensure its success. For our Civil War diaries project we are planning to make a site that is easy to navigate whether you enter from the main screen or a specific dairy page. Since we are working mostly with primary sources it is important that we make the site easy to follow and not too complicated so the visitor can find what they are looking for. My group and I believe our main audience for the site will be scholars and educators that will use it for academic and educational proposes. We anticipate that many other people will visit our site such as people interested in the Civil War and visitors to the National Park Service. The main goal for our website is to educate our visitors about Steven Gordon and the importance of primary sources.