Four Characteristics of Digital History

Writing about their "Difference Slavery Made" article:

The historiography and evidence occupy separate spatial locations. They stand beside the analysis, independent of it, tied to one another as well as to the comparative analysis, available for exploration on their own terms.

The work is participatory, requiring a physical engagement that traditional reading does not. Readers decide which way to pursue the argument; they may go forward in the analysis or into the material to a depth and with a range a print journal does not permit.

The work is procedural, requiring of the reader a series of steps to reveal its several layers and many components. One must follow those procedures to follow the intricacy below the level of the analysis.

The work is encyclopedic in that it is more fully documented than a journal in print could afford to be. That volume of material offers a deeper connection among documentation, evidence, and analysis than a single plane of fixed text can offer."

—William G. Thomas, III and Edward L. Ayers, "The Difference Slavery Made: A Close Analysis of Two American Communities," AHR Dec. 2003.

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