Changes in Digital History

Digital history is still a relatively new field that has evolved greatly during its growth. One key change that comes in many forms is that historians have had to learn to accept the good with the bad when it comes to online resources. Blevins describes some of the main “uses” of digital history: archiving, digitizing, and creating collections. However, this contrasts with what he described as the main goal of history, which is to make arguments. While historians have greater goals for digital history, its reality is more of a source material than a platform for arguments. Dr. McClurken also make a good point regarding the availability of online sources. While have the ability to access more material without having to drive to larger library and archive resources in D.C. and Washington is nice, many things are not accessible. They may only be partially released, there may be a cost associated, or the source may be contained in way that makes finding the desired content difficult. There is also the fact the reality available material (Wikipedia) is not necessarily a desired or reliable source. However, this technical “bad” can also be put to good use. One professor used it as a way to teach his students how history can be created on a public forum. While relyign fully on Wikipedia to understand material may be a bad idea, it can be used as an effective way to demonstrate how history is formed. Another professor believe it is important to know how Wikipedia works. Telling students not to use it does not really teach them anything, but instead can be used to explain parts of history instead of trying to site a historical fact. Digital history is fresh, but still growing. It is giving history a way to grow, to reform, a way to make it something more than an archive. For every bit a growth, there is a backlash that historians have to deal with. Historians must learn how to make lemonade out of lemons when the digital world gives them trouble.

One thought on “Changes in Digital History

  1. I had no real knowledge of Digital History as a field prior to taking this class. You bring up several good points that acknowledge both the strengths and limitations of the field as a whole, one of which is that there is a limited availability for many online sources. Hopefully, as the field continues to grow there will be increased availability of sources online to aid in students and historians’ work as they continue to archive, digitize, etc.

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