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In 2005 I started working for American Eagle Outfitters. Our website was a key factor to growth but stores were still the main factor. We utilized no social media at the time. Cut to 2015. Our website and mobile sales now contribute to more than 50% of our sales. Between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram alone we can connect with almost 15 million followers daily. Across all channels of media we receive over 2 billion impressions a year— an impossible reach for print or other forms of traditional advertising. Yes, I am referring to retail, and while it may be light years from the academic world, I really feel the same trajectory applies to history and digital history. Social media, at its core is first and foremost about creating access. It is a tool that was developed as a means to allow people to connect and engage and communicate. The purpose of historians is to share the research and information they have gathered and recorded—to help connect and align humanity. The goals are similar. At times they work perfectly together and at other times it can be a disaster. Kate Theimer writes about the future in her first chapter of Web 2.0 Tools and Strategies for Archives and Local History Collections. At the time these tools were new and left historians unsure and insecure. But today these tools are all commonplace in DH today. Research can’t happen without tagging, bookmarking and RSS. Is it a fad? Not at all. Has it changed the way we record history? Yes. And also the way we research and study and share our thoughts. But it doesn’t change history. Facts are the facts. Preservation requires the same skill and craft and care. As Pooja wrote in her forum, platforms change, people don’t.

What social media does create, however, is a new set of problems that eventually we will overcome as we did Theimer’s concerns. In terms of privacy, accuracy, trickery and gimmicks we must always work to keep history pure, especially when crowdsourcing is allowed. Trevor Owens discusses the benefits and the pitfalls from a 2010 perspective but the same points still echo today. “We can offer users an opportunity to deeply explore, connect with and contribute to public memory and we can’t let anything get in the way of that.” In the end, isn’t that always the job of a historian?

My view on social media is slowly changing. Being a very private person, I never felt the need to archive my life publicly on platforms such as Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. My generation has grown up during the onset of social media. Many have suffered the consequences of over sharing their personal lives. Relationships have been ruined, and others have failed to win the approval of potential employers. Luckily I have not suffered these consequences, but not participating in social media has its own negative outcomes. As a young professional in the art world, I have found employers feel entitled to information about candidates even before the first interview. They request links to your LinkedIn account and surely Google your name as they read your resume. I have even come across job postings that request access to Facebook accounts, stating "everyone who is normal has a Facebook."

I will say as I have grown older, I have become more comfortable with social media because I know recognize how one can use the platforms to both promote and complete academic projects. Much of the focus can be taken off of me as a person, although in a way I realize I am still branding myself. (Still, branding myself as a fine art professional in New York City is very different from the heavy-edited personal blogs that now saturate the web, where those with money have the time to photograph and edit themselves for hours and ultimately communicate an unappealing sense of narcissism.) By searching hashtags on Instagram and by filtering through photographs on Flickr, I was able to locate many artworks for the Dzubas monograph project I have been a part of for the last two years. Many of the artworks found are paintings that had been sold on the secondary market. Auction houses are very protective of their records and would have never shared their provenance information with me, but because of social media, the private collectors led me straight to their holdings.

I believe social media will remain both a personal struggle for private individuals like myself, as well as a struggle for manuscript collections that, like auction houses, feel privacy is essential. Senior Archivist of Fales Library, Lisa Darms, recently stated during a staff meeting that there is a huge difference between a personal journal and a manuscript an artist had always intended to publish. Marvin Taylor, Director of Fales, followed her lead by saying with copyright law and issues of privacy, it just isn't possible for special collections to ever be fully accessible to the public through the web. I see the point Trevor Owens is trying to make in his article "Crowdsourcing Cultural Heritage: The Objectives are Upside Down when he states, "There are a range of reasons that we put digital collections online. With that said the single most important reason to do so is to make history accessible and invite students, researchers, teachers, and anyone in the public to explore and connect with our past. Historians, Librarians, Archivists, and Curators who share digital collections and exhibits can measure their success toward this goal in how people use, reuse, explore and understand these objects. However, I think Owens needs to think more about issues of copyright and privacy before generally advocating for open access. Additionally, while I do not expect the staff of Fales to digitize the repository's entire holdings, I think they could make more of an effort to establish an online presence through social media to be appear more inviting. However, it is unclear if those individuals who would come across the social media postings would be the same individuals who would be serious enough about learning more about the collections at Fales to look at the finding aids.

Reading scholarly pieces on the future of Web 2.0 is a surreal experience, not only because the future they predicted is already upon us but because of the analysis they bring to websites that the internet-savvy young people of my generation took — and continue to take — for granted. It's strange to see, for example, spoken about as a revolutionary form of web communication and interaction when most people I know who have some experience with it it just used it to search for fanfiction when they were teenagers.

Theimer's article on the basics of Web 2.0 is striking another reason, though, and that's how correct some of its predictions were. It was written in 2010, but is largely correct about its predictions about how the "kids" who utilized Web 2.0 at its inception are now using it to turn profit as young professionals. Not only have many corporations, universities, and other established institutions cottoned on the use of social media to advertise, but sites like YouTube have become an industry in and of themselves, with young people who started out as "internet stars" crossing into the real world and making real money off their social media presence.

Will this remain the case even if YouTube and Vine and Instagram eventually fade away? I think so. When a social medium dies, people will inevitably migrate somewhere else (see: the waves of migration from LiveJournal to Tumblr from 2009-2012). Platforms change; people don't.

What does that mean for history? For one, it can be a great way to popularize history — not necessarily in the sense of sensationalist "pop history" but rather history being more accessible to the general public. History going viral. Historical anecdotes being passed around as a meme. People learning about history through esoteric Twitter accounts and Tumblrs dedicated to scrapbooking particular historical eras. I think of the way certain parts of Tumblr have become obsessed with the Broadway musical "Hamilton" and, through posts ranging in complexity from meta-analysis of the show's take on Alexander Hamilton to simple .gif posts of scenes in the musical accompanied by historical context in the caption, gotten a whole lot of people who otherwise have only a casual interest in history deeply invested in the Founding Fathers.

The flip side, of course, is that misinformation and obviously biased information can easily go viral as well. Wolff's point about "edit wars" on Wikipedia and the issue of how history on the internet lines up with accepted scholarly accounts of historical trends and events is even more of an issue when it comes to sharing history via social media, which aren't held to the same scrutiny as Wikipedia. If a piece of misinformation goes viral on Twitter or Facebook, it'll have spread to millions of people by the time any errors have been called out and corrected accordingly, and most of those people won't see the correction anyway. What, if anything, should website administrators do about that? They can't very well censor or limit what information gets passed around (unless, perhaps, it's clearly some sort of inflammatory racist/sexist/etc. statement). But the trend of social media making history both easier to comprehend and more accessible for young people in particular is something I personally really want to observe as the internet continues to shift and change.

I share Celeste's observations. History, like any discipline, has never been objective. Tim Hitchcock reminds us scholars turned to studying of the past to create civil societies, and of course, the societies they wanted informed the historical scholarship produced. "The lessons we take from the past are those which we need," Hitchcock says, "rather than those we need." Similarly, Hitchcock worries public history allows technocratic elites to find the big data they need to safely secure futures that maintain their power, might, and myriad privileges rather than, for example, presaging justice or opportunity for those "below." This is partly because public history's focus on "accessibility" doesn't account for helping wide audiences critically engage and examine materials that, in fact, hold multiple realities, multiple truths.

The conundrum for public historians and big data specialists is to conduct and clearly define "good history." Whether it's history that illuminates contradicting concerns and outcomes or history that continues the work of building civil societies, I'm not sure. But Hitchcock argues that technology and the web's allowance for greater primary source material and testimony to be publicly available does aid in good history's cause by shifting things from archives, where, typically, only the elite could access, to the hands of minoritized or marginalized peoples who might seize them for their purposes.

Ted Underwood's talk pushes this same conversation forward. With literary theory as Underwood's terrain, the talk posits that expanding public access doesn't achieve Hitchcock's "good history" by discovering something new. Mining text for new information, Underwood says, doesn't stretch the contours of literary history. Instead, it's about making interventions, taking commonplace ideologies, beliefs, or assumptions and pushing back against them.

Public historians face the challenge of pushing back against ossified historical beliefs about certain events or people if their goal is only to present and program new information. Instead, public historians should see how technological advances, like programming language, enables us to do "good history" by holding multiple realities at once. Algorithms can shift our sense of time from neatly discrete "periods" to overlapping shifts. They can also "treat categories as plural and continuous," which means that nothing is either or and nothing submits to reductive definitions. "Good history" isn't employing computers to think for us, Underwood says, but that we're able to discover more about "what we don't know."

David Bodenhamer reiterates these points in discussion about GIS and spatial technology. These developments, if nothing else, help us engage with historically ore critically. It's our responsibility, though, to avoid falling into the trappings of making the history we want to see in building these platforms and administering their use. A map, Bodenhamer asserts, isn't just a map. It also implicitly presents the prejudices and perspectives of its maker. Likewise, big data isn't just big data. How it's organized and categorized matters. Its construction should open up thinking for viewers, not direct them to think in a certain fashion because of someone else's information management decisions.

This makes me think about, (1) What are ongoing and colliding definitions for public history and how do public historians define their work? (2) How do we organize and analyze history without reducing it to oversimplified generalizations? (3) What are the best practices for conducting "history from below"?

Celeste, you bring up many interesting points from this week's readings. I think new, digital tools were inevitable as postmodern and post-structuralist theories were adopted and as the Internet became essential for performing our daily tasks. As the idea of linear progress proved too naive with the devastation of war, it seemed even the book, with its linear format from front cover to back cover, was outdated in its construction. Today, however, text published online can have a number of hyperlinks that can direct the reader to other relevant resources. Rather than a linear progression, readers can cycle through material or journey through a web of tangents. Last week we also saw how encoded information with the use of XML allows users to cut across vast amounts of information to make connections that may have been impossible to make before the Digital Age. However, even if websites or printed materials contain simplified, linear timelines in order to make material more manageable, either by providing a visual entryway into new concepts or by re-iterating concepts embedded in an overwhelming block of text, we know it to be just that — a simplified timeline where numerous additions can be made. We are more aware than ever these timelines are far from the entire story. Now we read against the grain and recognize the silences within materials. Due to this awareness, I think more minimal visual representations are still appropriate for projects, such as our Omeka websites, although I am excited to see how newer digital tools will continue to facilitate us in the display of more inclusive histories.

The readings this week deal with the tension that results when historians adopt tools developed by and for researchers in other disciplines, which are rooted in and informed by different theoretical bases than the majority of contemporary historical scholarship. More specifically, technologies like GIS, big data analysis, and other forms of data visualization take empiricism as a given: that universally true and objectively accurate information can be gathered and analyzed, with the results of that analysis contributing new universally true and objectively accurate information to the sum total of human knowledge. Western historical scholarship prior to the 1960s and 1970s was itself rooted in empiricist, technologically positivist ideas. However, most academic historians today are familiar with the notion that empiricism is a social construct, and that “objective” information gathered through empirical study is just as vulnerable to subjective influence as information gathered through other, less culturally-privileged, means.

In postmodern scholarship, rather than reflecting objective truth, historical documentation is evidence of societal power structures. This is true not only of historical figures and narratives, but in less obviously contentious features, such as geographic space. As David J. Bodenhamer puts it, “In this sense, then, the meaning of space, especially as place or landscape, is always being constructed through the various contests that occur over power. There is nothing new in this development – the earliest maps reveal the power arrangements of past societies – but humanities scholarship increasingly reflects what may in fact be the greatest legacy of postmodernism: the acknowledgement that our understanding of the physical world itself is socially constructed” (25).

Ted Underwood makes a compelling case that digital tools can facilitate new modes of historical interpretation, even as scholars remain aware of their limitations. Tim Hitchcock is less sure. As with most issues, the “truth” may lie somewhere in the middle. Digital tools may be more suitable for some modes of historical interpretation than others. Postmodernism is a useful historical approach, but it is by no means the only one, and (as Hitchcock points out) it is a spectrum rather than a binary condition. The emerging popularity of digital tools in historical scholarship only serves to highlight the range of philosophical backgrounds and approaches that have characterized the discipline for nearly half a century.

It is one thing for academics of various stripes who more or less share a level of familiarity with the ontological background of the difficulties that arise when using digital tools for historical scholarship. It is quite another to successfully present these difficulties to the public, in a way that is accessible to people with more diverse educational backgrounds. Empiricism tends to be the default theoretical underpinning of most educational endeavors, from American K-12 curricula onward. History is already inherently political, and accusations of historical revisionism (as it is [mis]understood outside of academia) are a frequently deployed weapon in the contemporary culture wars. Historians working for a broader audience than that of their peers are accused of harboring bias and hidden agendas when they present interpretations that differ from the empirical “truth” that members of the public learned in school.

So, with all of this in mind:

1. Is there a way for public historians to introduce postmodern concepts in a way that engages the public rather than alienating half of any given audience?
2. Might digital tools be used in public history to illustrate, rather than further obscuring, the subjectivity of historical scholarship?
3. Is it possible to do this without furthering the uncritically positivist narratives that surround technology, both outside of our discipline and within it?

I was thinking the same thing, Pooja! The MySpace I created many moons ago in the sixth grade, when I was a very, very different me, still exists somewhere out there in the Internet. The messages I sent across A.I.M. are floating in the ether. The selfies and posts and comments and search histories I'd be embarrassed if leaked to the world are catalogued in the deep web. And, of course, they say much and very little about me, who I was at the time, and what implications that might have on my personhood.

Foucault's "panopticon" operates at unprecedented levels through the Internet. FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, Google—they survey, collect, and administer our information. Can our generation continue to reinvent or rebrand ourselves as we grow older, learn more, and develop different human practices or worldview without the past haunting us? Can we extricate ourselves from something we said or did way back when?

I think your use of different names and accounts is one way to address the issue. One of my best friends is "Kelsey" in real life and "Oona" on the Internet, at Starbucks, and anywhere she wants to go without being identified. I thought it odd initially, but I completely understand it now.

I also think of instances where people live very integrated lives across their social media platforms. Professor Steven Salaita accepted a tenured position in American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to his appointment, the university chancellor rescinded Salaita's offer due to tweets he posted about the colonial enterprise in Israel. The chancellor cited "civility" as cause for his dismissal, using his public Twitter account as evidence of the charges against him. The university stood behind this decision, which is also to say, the university advanced this decision through its chancellor. Salaita argued the charges opposed his freedom of speech. He even reiterated the university is a platform for the free exchange of ideas, and to deny his appointment is to negate this tenet of intellectual life.

Here is an academic whose opinions go against the status quo held by those in power. They used his Internet persona against him, when the persona, in fact, is protected under the Constitution. University officials quickly released a lexicon of civility, respectability, and distorted freedom of speech that, rather than including everyone's speech, only protected that of those already supreme. This makes me afraid of what I post online as I consider the future of my career.

I know I can't be anyone but me. I can't say what I don't think is true or maintain what I believe silent in fear of what others might do. The Croxall reading and your post does make me think more critically about code switching and brand management: perhaps there's a time and place for everything?

Reading Weller also made me think about Wikipedia. High school teachers discouraged me from consulting the website as well. But nowadays it's the first place I go to for information. I often click through associated links, traveling from one page to another, as I research. Wikipedia's transformation of the encyclopedia makes information navigation so much easier than when I manually flipped through books. The citations at the bottom of the page, when thorough, can also be helpful. But one Wiki-factor that stands out to me is the public's ability to modify, create, and manage Wiki-pages. Many of my friends conduct hack-athons where they make or update Wiki-pages on special topics. For example, for Asian American History Month, APA college student groups across the country partnered with the Asian Pacific American Center at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. to generate new Wiki-pages on APA history. They corrected misinformation. They added local figures. They charted change in the history of laws, etc. impacting APA peoples over time. It was at once a democratic engagement with history and an act of organized resistance. By changing the histories stored on Wikipedia, these students changed the public's access to these histories, thereby disrupting master narratives about how so-and-so went or who so-and-so was. This brings up questions of reliability, fact, and perspective, as Andrea writes in their post. Nevertheless, it's an instance where technology puts the production of history and historical knowledge into local people's hands.

Most of the material in this week's reading consisted of ideas I was already familiar with. While I only recently began to work on building a "professional" web presence, I've been using social media for over a decade, and I remember well the etiquette of 2005 social media, which boiled down to one rule:

Keep real life and the internet as far away from each other as possible.

Obviously this rule is more complicated now, with people using websites like Facebook and Twitter to build their personal brand with their real name, location, and so on attached. I have only just started doing this, and, due to the desire to retain some of those pre-Twitter connections while still creating a more professionalized image of myself, I have three versions of myself online: 1) My legal name, which exists only in the form of academic endeavors; 2) the pseudonym under which I create my art; and 3) the long since abandoned first version of myself, the one from 2005, which has no name attached to it but which, despite as many deletions as I could manage, probably still exists.

My main question from this week's readings, then, is this: Can people of my generation, who have used various forms of social media since middle school or earlier, ever really control which parts of ourselves are accessible online?

I was very pleased when, after reading Brian Croxall's article on "How to Google Yourself Effectively and What to Do About It," I googled myself out of curiosity and found nothing offensive at all. Not that that's from lack of trying — I have some very vivid memories of not only deleting my old LiveJournal account but also contacting a site which I knew cached old journal posts in order to get them to remove the offending material (which they did). But what about the countless other websites on which my younger self posted potentially embarrassing material? The problem with my extensive system of fake names and decoy e-mail addresses is that when it comes to removing that material permanently, "just in case," it's often impossible — not just because I've forgotten the sites and the usernames and the passwords, but because I know screenshots and transcripts are out there somewhere.

I know this because I'm guilty of hoarding screenshots and transcripts of other peoples' old, now-deleted material. In my case it's old LiveJournal posts and tweets from celebrities (Ryan Ross's introductory post in the LJ community "tightpants" lives on, not only on my hard drive, but also on the blogs of thousands of Tumblr users), but considering how easy it is for me to retrieve these kinds of records, how much control do we actually have over our web presence?

Daniel J.Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig, Lisa Spiro and Toni Weller all present well crafted arguments and thorough explanations about what Digitial Humanities (DH) is and the challenges researchers, historians, students and like minded communities will find in their work, but in the end, it seems they all agree on one thing —all historians can use the web and other new tools to make the past, as stated by Cohen and Rosenzweig, more “richly documented, more accessible, more diverse, more responsive to future researchers, and above all more democratic.”

Technical aspects aside, digital media, in all its complicated variations, will be a part of our lives now and forever. Historical documentation, story telling, preservation, archiving, etc. are only enhanced by these new formats and platforms. The conceptual questions that many of these books grapple with—how we use and apply original material that has been digitized and how future historians will have to engage with contemporary historical record—are important to note, but I believe these arguments and discussions are not going to change the course of DH or information technology development. Technology will advance, good platforms will grow and the mediocre will fall to the side and historians will use these all these tools to enhance study and research. Choosing what she or he feels best. All historians, since the beginning of recorded history have dealt with and adapted to technological change. While we have seen exponential change in the last two decades, and are looking to, as Weller said, “reconsider our relationship with the historical record in the digitial age,” I believe, regardless of technology, studying and research methods have to be driven by desire and passion first. A historian will remain a historian and a technologist will remain a technologist.

Several of the readings brought to mind the largely debated topic of creating,maintaining and effectively having a "web presence". Miriam Posner and Brian Croxall expressed three main points with regards to this topic: Familiarity, Consistency and Participation. I too agree with these points; especially the first, familiarity. One should always be aware of what they are "making/posting" online.

I found the article, "Personal Academic Websites for Faculty and Grad Students" to be the most useful and interesting to read. In this article, the writer provided useful tips and provided a list of host sites to create your very own site: WordPress, Google Sites, Weebly and Zohosites. Has anyone used/prefer one site over the other?

Lastly, I retained a quick fun fact from Alex Sayf Cummings and Jonathan Jarrett's article…the word Wiki means "fast" in Hawaiian slang.

Overall, I was already very familiar with the concerns of social media and the possibility of being Googled. It is always best to err on the side of caution when posting and to be aware of your web presence.

This week's readings highlight the reluctance many professionals in the humanities still feel towards adopting new research methods prompted by the digital age despite the numerous solutions that have been developed to better navigate and make sense of the almost infinite number of sources readily available to anyone with a computer connection. For example, authors William Turkel, Kevin Kee and Spencer Roberts in their article "A Method for Navigating the Infinite Archive," offer a more contemporary approach to research, believing all information should initially be made digital and kept in a cloud. Then scholars should sort and manage this abundance of information (at least their citations) with the help of a database before sharing their work with others. Essentially these authors believe the systematic approach of compiling a literature review, formulating questions, embarking on archival work, field work or experimentation and finally summarizing one's results and conclusions in the form of a conference paper, journal article or longer publication is no longer a possibility due to the exponential amount of information being digitized or created in digital form.

One important question that arises from this set of readings is if these authors (surely among others) are offering solutions to today's research concerns and scholars like Ansley T. Erickson are writing articles that act as case studies that demonstrate the advantages and ease of using databases, such as File Maker Pro and Zotero, during the research process, why are professionals in the humanities still reluctant to accept such approaches, remain skeptical of online sources and believe teaching students how to incorporate such tools in their research is someone else's responsibility? The results of this reluctance are described in Charlotte Lydia Riley's article, "Beyond Ctrl-c, Ctrl-v: Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age." In her article Riley describes how students were often encouraged or required by their professors to use VLEs, email and JSTOR, but were often left without guidance on how to adequately use such resources or were actively discouraged from using other types of online resources. Furthermore, undergraduate students recalled avoiding online sources because they were unsure how to accurately reference them or felt that the presence of online citations would diminish their work in the eyes of their lecturers. Riley concludes her article by saying "ultimately, there should be no distinction for students or teachers between online and traditional historical sources; there should always be a distinction between reliable and unreliable historical sources." Her conclusion certainly relates back to Erickson's article when he mentions how academic subfields shape what we read and, in return, guide what research topics we purse. If students are ruling out digital sources in favor of traditional sources just to please their instructors, these students may be missing out on valuable information that could dramatically alter their research questions.

Turkel, Kee and Roberts attempt to identify some of the reasons why digital sources have not been so widely accepted in academia. They elaborate on the fear that embracing digital sources might lead students to only consult sources they can access from the comfort of their own bedrooms without consulting more obscure sources only found in hardcopy form in archives or libraries. These sources may be too fragile to digitize or perhaps other collections used more frequently are the ones designated to be digitized first. However, there must be other reasons behind such reluctance not mentioned within these readings. Is it possible professors still want to be known as an expert on a specific subject and fear the loss of recognition if they instead agree to a more collaborative effort to produce knowledge? Is it also possible many professionals cannot recognize the potential of what their projects could become if they embraced digital tools? In this week's readings we read how WASM and WASM International became more than just a database and journal with the help of Alexander Street Press and libraries buying subscriptions to their project after their initial grant money ran out, but one has to wonder how many projects built by enthusiastic teams must eventually be abandoned due to lack of funding. It is possible academics fear the risk involved in opening up their research to a team effort exploring newer, digital platforms and newer methodologies.

All three readings discuss the benefits of adopting digital modes of historical scholarship, as well as the discipline’s reluctance to do so. While the benefits are pretty clear — would this class exist if digital scholarship was of limited use? — it is important to recognize that digital information management comes with its own set of risks. An anecdote cited in Erickson illustrates those risks especially well. While researching her dissertation, she rediscovered a passage that complicated a narrative she had begun to construct:

“By the mid-1960s, residents, planners, and educators used the phrase inner city to indicate predominantly black neighborhoods or neighborhoods where planners predicted black population growth. I had noticed this pattern in my own reading and had captured examples of such language and other descriptions of geographic space with a keyword: cognitive map….I had earlier made notes and then forgotten about the story of a central-city school that was historically segregated white, remained largely working class, and had a local council representative fighting to retain the school in conjunction with what he labeled its surrounding inner-city neighborhood….When I read these passages in the first years of my research, I had not thought to tag them with the keyword cognitive map. Thus they did not show up in that keyword search over two years later. I was able to discover them again because I could search for a phrase laden with meaning and insinuation.”

This incident illustrates some limitations of technological tools commonly used to assist with research. Tagging is a useful means of organizing information, but it is fallible, particularly given the iterative nature of historical research (as Erickson points out later). Creating database entries for historical sources is not a once-and-done action, even for databases customized for the cognitive processes of a single historian. Entries need to be reviewed and tags edited as the research process continues. If the fields of this database were not also full-text searchable, would this connection have been made? What if, rather than transcribing the quotation, Erickson had simply tagged her photographs of the document in question? What if the document had not included a short phrase rich in meaning, but had illustrated a meaningful concept more subtly—making even full-text searchability less useful?

Tagging becomes even more complicated when it is used to organize information and facilitate its retrieval for communities of scholars rather than a single researcher. Tags need to be mutually intelligible, and if tagging is the primary means of retrieving information, tags need to anticipate a broad variety of uses for that information. The larger the community of scholars using the database, the more difficult it is to maintain mutually intelligible terminology, and the more versatile tags need to be. This is one of many reasons the participation of information professionals in scholarly communities is valuable.

Tagging is probably the most glaring example of technological shortcomings here. However, the argument applies to other information retrieval systems as well. Databases (both analog and digital) can facilitate the research process by aggregating and managing large amounts of historical information, but they can ultimately only do things we tell them to do. With that in mind, here are my questions:

1. How might a database or other digital scholarship tool designed specifically to accommodate the iterative nature of historical research be structured? How would it resemble the FileMaker Pro database Erickson used, and how would it differ?

2. How much skepticism should we feel about the idea that digital tools can decolonize and democratize the archive, information retrieval, and scholarship? To paraphrase a very cool Greenwich Village figure (and librarian!), can technology primarily developed by a very stubbornly white and male industry really dismantle the worldview of white men in historical scholarship?

Familiar methods for historical scholarship take root in colonial practices. Empires eager to concretize their supremacy over conquered subjects deployed these methods to secure their right to rule. Establishing an exceptional history "justified" state's claim to authority. The materials it legitimized as reliable evidence became the rubric. Such methods and materials combined to form "a way of doing things" that empires imposed on their territories. Technicians of empire, such as historians and archivists, passed these ways on and replicated the very colonial ideologies that engendered them.

Ansley Erickson cites anthropologist Ann Stoler's studies on the Dutch's archival implementation in Indonesia as an example of this. Britain's empire in India and France's imperial projects throughout Africa and Southeast Asia confirm this as well.

The "digital age" presents opportunities for colonized peoples to overthrow both their colonial overlords and the epistemological regimes they installed. By designing new ways to glean and administer information, the Internet and programs like FileMaker Pro helps scholars from marginalized communities develop scholarship hitherto impossible. Scholars are able to access a wider range of sources online. They can organize and assign metadata to these sources in expansive databases, which allows them to locate more rigorous arguments, set alternative analytical categories, and increasingly collaborate with scholars and constituents.

Technology promises more than simplified information management. It asks us to rethink the enterprise of finding aids, item descriptions, and the items archival institutions so carefully preserve. These new databases, Erickson argues, evolve our understanding about the sources, the stories we extricate from them, and their relationship to other archival and non-archival sources. Of course new technology won't do the analytical work for us. Instead, they assist us in naturalizing different ways of "seeing" or "experiencing" information, which, thus, impacts our access and interpretation of it.

Charlotte Riley and William Turkel's (et al.) chapters in Tony Weller's "History in the Digital Age" turns our attention to the benefits of such pragmatic applications. They encourage us to read even more closely for bias, augment the breadth of "reliable" evidence, strengthen collection and preservation efforts, generate—if possible—original thought, and build partnerships across different geographies. Altogether, these gestures improve a field that shouldn't think itself safe in the academy's ever-changing political landscape.

Some questions I have are:

1. How do we incentivize historians and archivists to adopt digital research methods?
2. To what extent can digital research improve the colonial conditions historical scholarship—and the production of knowledge widely—is predicated on?
3. Will the profession's adoption of new technologies encourage social justice efforts to better literacy, access to technology, etc. for local communities?
4. How will commonplace ideologies like "reliability" shift in the profession in light of these new research methods?

Erickson reading by iampaultraniampaultran, 17 Sep 2015 21:05

After reading this week's articles, I, too, was often thinking back to Toni Weller's piece, which asks readers to think more in depth about which sources are most reliable for scholarly research. I think Weller's piece in particular successfully highlights some of the challenges academics are facing in the digital age. The questions it raises certainly made me think about a conference I attended last summer.

Last June I witnessed a group of art history professionals completely divided on the topic of sources when I attended a conference held by the Catalogue Raisonne Scholars Association at the Museum of Modern Art. Before the conference, I was really looking forward to meeting other members working on similar projects and learning about their approaches to research, especially since I had been vitally working on a monograph and catalogue raisonne in isolation without any prior experience. During the conference I was surprised to learn just how broad the audience was, which was made up of a variety of art world professionals working on small Estate projects to teams backed by larger institutions with million dollar budgets at their disposal. As more and more speakers presented, it became more and more clear how split individuals were on issues of technology.

Some individuals present during the conference has already embraced technology fully and were in the process of producing catalogue raisonnes entirely online, claiming how easily they would be able to edit their publications in the future. They also said their publications, since they were published online, would also be more accessible. They could reach a far greater audience who may or may not have had the funds to purchase the publication had it been printed. Furthermore, they described how technology allowed them to embed video and audio into their publications, which could more easily show performance art and digital-born artwork than photographs. These individuals only seemed concern about the cost of hiring someone to keep up with the project once the catalogue raisonne was launched.

Others still believed in the printed book, believing the final, tangible product could be regarded as an art object itself. Many of these individuals expressed their concern over deadlines because of the daunting need to source high-resolution images from a variety of institutions or the need to hire their own photographers to travel to sites to produce the high-quality images we have become accustomed to seeing. Additionally, they were often concerned with sifting through the almost endless abundance of electronic sources, some of which simply state the same facts over and over again. Team members from the Jasper Johns catalogue raisonne made the point that even the most interesting anecdotes about the artist perhaps do not need to be cited endlessly in the book's bibliography. If they are, it becomes almost impossible for readers to use the bibliography to fuel their own research. This particular team also hesitated on how to deal with electronic links even if they offered new information for fear the links would become obsolete even before the multi-volume publication reached the printed.

Overall, I found myself after the conference, and again after reading this week's articles, thinking about how my relationship with technology would have to change as I continue to explore the world of modern art and archives. I have faith I will discover some useful tools during this course, which will make me feel more comfortable embracing technology when conducting research.

After reading the assigned readings for this week (week 2), I now have a better understanding as to what is digital history, what are the challenges/advantages of this transition from the traditional to new digital age, as well as the ins and outs of copyright and self censorship. Overall one can gather that the concept and practice of the Digital Humanities is a broad one. The Digital Humanities encapsulate multiple facets and provide its members (researchers, faculty, staff, students and community partners) with more engaging and active ways to participate in studying, researching, etc. than that of the previous more traditional ways.

When I was reading Toni Weller's "Introduction: History in the Digital Age" I instantly made a connection. Weller discusses in detail the ways in which researching has changed, which made me think about Evernote. While I was reading, I used Evernote to take notes. I have never used Evernote; therefore this is a prime/personal example of using a "new" technology to replace a traditional method (pencil and paper). Evernote is also an example of how the Digital Humanities make it easier to share found information and ideas.

Another part of reading that stood out to me was a quote from Toni Weller's "Introduction: History in the Digital Age": Historians of the future may also find themselves in a challenging position over their very role. The digital age has allowed the interested amateur or independent scholar to express themselves alongside professional historians through the mediums of personal websites or, increasingly, blogs. I believe that this quote provokes the question of what is or makes a reliable source? Thinking back to high school, I remember the height of the "Wikipedia Craze"…I recall all of my teachers and librarians banning the use of the site.

Daniel Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig's "Becoming Digital" dives into the discussion about the "high price tag" of becoming digital. This entire piece goes over the costs/benefits, marking up, converting things to digital form, digital images, audio and moving images and other topics concerning the switch. As I read, I made a personal connection. Just this past week, I began my internship in the Special Collections Library at FIT. On Friday, I sat in on a meeting regarding FIT's interest in converting their current oral history/audio files (cassettes, VHS, etc.) to digital form. FIT is taking meetings with various companies that do exactly that; therefore demonstrating that companies and individuals are reaping the benefits ($) of the digital age.

Charlie, I really like the design of your exhibit. I think it goes well with your topic and the themes within. The Loisaida page is very informative and I think it sets up the rest of the information you plan to cover in your exhibit. I did find one typo in the second paragraph. It should say "14th Street." Your images and the map on this page work well together.

The History of the Young Lords in New York page also looks good visually. I would proofread it one more time to make sure the verb tenses are the same. This page is written in a very academic fashion. I think it sounds great, but my only other suggestion would be to perhaps break up some of your longer sentences since the web exhibit is a little less formal than a scholarly paper.

I really like the way you organized your writing for the "Puerto Rican Obituary" page. You did a great job setting up an introduction before going into the biographical information on Pedro Pietri. Is it possible to break this page up into two different pages? You have a great deal of information contained on this page. I think it may be too daunting for some to scroll down and read the entire page because it looks very lengthy.

Overall, I think you tell a great story and have really powerful images throughout the exhibit!

Web Exhibit Comments by pleskajdpleskajd, 12 Dec 2014 04:50

Really really nice pages. I like the design a lot and the use of pictures is great. The text is informative and easy to understand. Basically it's pretty excellent all round. I guess if I were to give some minor suggestions I'd say maybe you could add some hyperlinks to other omeka exhibits on the site or to external sites, just to explain a few things. Also I really like the quote used on the Labour Union page so if you did have any more that would be great. But anyway I'm just nitpicking, it's all good really.

Hi Jennifer,

The information you have so far looks great! Here are my thoughts:

General Visual Suggestions

I like the use of headings in the Biography section—could you add these to the other pages to split up the blocks of text?

Do you have an image of George Templeton Strong's signature? That might be a nice touch to put in a logo header, if you're planning to add one. I think a portrait would also work well.

The Diarist

To add visual interest, perhaps you could add photos relating to the important events covered by the diary, like the Draft Riots, Appomattox, Lincoln's assassination, etc.? I know there are a few Draft Riots images in the archive (I added one, at least), and Wikimedia Commons probably has the others.

"Strong’s detailed forty-year account of his life in New York City during such turbulent times serves as an invaluable tool for scholars in a variety of fields."

— Maybe give some examples? Like what might be of interest to specific disciplines?

"The New-York Historical Society owns Strong’s original diary."

— Add a link to the finding aid?

Second paragraph is a little unclear—was the diary unrestricted when loaned to the Red Cross in 1927?

The First Printing

The editors removed mundane details of the diary including weather, uneventful walks, and encountered [typo—encounters] with unnamed individuals. The editors also corrected minor nuances in Strong’s writing.

— This is really interesting…do you know anything else about the editing process?

Second paragraph - I think the descriptions of the volumes might be better suited to a list/bullet format than paragraph format.


For [typo more] information, Ms. Pleska can be contacted at ude.uyn|644pdj#ude.uyn|644pdj.

Caitlin your introduction is great! It lays out the history very neatly and I get a clear picture of what you hope to do with the exhibit. Your second page has a couple typos (did you mean to leave the splash quote without capitals? I wasn't sure if you were doing that for an aesthetic reason maybe.) but, again, keeps the reader engaged on what has the potential to be a very complicated (or dry, written by the wrong person) topic. The one suggestion I might make, is one I struggle with myself and I don't know how possible it would be, given your topic, but your sentence structure and language might be a bit academic for the setting. I know Cathy has suggested running my text through one of the online readers that tells you what grade level you're writing at, and that might be helpful if you wanted to do some simplifying. Again, I don't know how possible that would be, but it might be worth looking into.

The timeline was also very helpful. With Whitney's work affecting the art movement and people's lives over such a long period of time, it's great to be able to see it laid out, and you definitely picked the most attractive timeline to use, too. I love your whole layout, actually. The header is well done and I think the simplicity of the black and white compliments the items you use.

I think you're off to a great start. Just definitely do a sweep for typos at some point (it was mostly just misplaced commas and apostrophes.)

response to three pages by sgl305sgl305, 02 Dec 2014 19:33
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