Impact of Digital History Readings

I found the central point of the Sherman Dorn article rather interesting, and very relevant given how this class works. The article’s demonstration that you can present scholarship as something besides a polished final product is not something I’ve ever considered in that light before, but in hindsight it seems obvious. After all, this is exactly what our group presentations to the class have been doing, showing a decidedly unfinished and polished product and explaining the sometimes messy and irritating process we’ve been dealing with. And some of the input and feedback we’ve been receiving has definitely been useful in shaping our projects as we’ve gone forward. This is also what some of the Talking History talks from faculty in the history department are often about. In the digital world, it is much easier and more accessible to present history in this way and receive feedback and commentary from however broad of an audience you may want to engage in the discussion.

The Robert Wolff article concerning Wikipedia and students also struck me as interesting, particularly the bit where he noted that the traditional history students in his class, despite most of them being first-year, already had ingrained, very traditional notions of what the practice of history was. From Wolff’s point of view, this actually served them poorly in understanding the digital humanities, and perhaps this sends the message that we need to begin incorporating a broader view of history not just at the college level but further down as well. Before college, most kids in the future will likely engage with history primarily through the web. Future generations will need a broader understanding of history at an earlier stage in their education.