It is very fitting that in my last blog post I talked about the relationship between Digital and Public History and how these courses at UWM overlap. When I wrote this post I had no idea that this week’s reading assignments talk about this relationship and how it plays an important role in Digital History.
In the first article that I looked at, the author Cameron Blevins talks about the gap that has formed between digital and academic historians. According to Blevins, this gap can be attributed to two historical traditions linked to digital history, these two traditions are quantitative and public history. With digital historians keeping these two traditions in mind, it has led the digital history field to be in what Belvins calls the “perpetual future tense.” When talking about the “perpetual future tense” Belvin states that the reason why this field in this constant cycle is because digital historians keep talking about the potential of digital history. By constantly focusing on the potential, historians and other academics have started to believe that this field has overpromised and under-delivered. This idea stems from the fact that academic historians feel as if digital historians are not contributing to the history field because they are not making arguments. Instead, digital historians are spending their time focusing on archival, pedagogical, and public history initiatives. In order to close the gap that I previously mentioned, Blevin states that digital historians need to start making arguments related to history in order to close this gap. He feels that by having digital historians make arguments there is a collective understanding of the past. While this may be true digital historians are already creating a collective understanding of the past by facilitating discovery and exploration through digital timelines, exhibits, and other materials.
The other article that I read for this blog post was Sheila A. Brennan’s which focused on how as a public historian she feels that digital humanities has a lot to contribute both academically and publicly. She states that public history requires a significant amount of intellectual labor, which I know to be true because of my Introduction to Public History course. From all the readings and work that we have done this semester for this course digital history also requires a lot of labor as well. Like Blevins’ article, Brennan discusses the role Roy Rosenzweig played in the field of digital and public history. Rosenzweig’s creation of the Center for History and New Media in 1994 was ultimately a turning point in these fields of history. Without Rosenzweig creating this center, I feel that history would not have become as democratized as it is today.
Additionally, the third article that I read was written by our very own professor, Dr. McClurken. I really liked his article because it talks about how digital history is a really important resource to all especially undergraduate and graduate students. As a student who is currently in History 298, History Practicum, I can relate to him talking about his students being frustrated that not all materials are online for free. This is something that I have definitely struggled with the past two weeks in writing my Literature Review. As a result, I have experienced first hand the digital divide of paywalls, which is super frustrating when trying to find resources.
Another thing that I really enjoyed about this article is how much Dr. McClurken praises archives! As the student that works in our Universities Archives, I have really come to appreciate our archives and the resources that it provides to students, alumni, and researchers. I especially liked the part about crowdsourcing because that is something I hope our University implements one day. I hope that our university would do something like this because by having students/public digitize and tag materials it would make more materials accessible. Also, it would be cool to see our university archives use twitter as a tool to share materials because this would be an easy way for people to find materials.
While I have read other articles for this blog post I feel as if I have made my point that digital history is useful for the general public and scholars even though it doesn’t provide us with the arguments that academic scholars feel as if it is missing.
Here are links to other things that I read for this blog post: