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Changes for Historians in a Digital World

The growth of the digital age has created an issue for the field of history. It adds new ways of research and sharing information, but it also can limit what people are willing to do when researching. It is a very happy thing to realize that there is an important article that can help you research, is already scanned and you can open it up without having to get out of your chair. That convenience can then backfire when there are no digital versions of what you need, and now you need to get up and search through physical books and journals. The appeal of how historians have researched for centuries is slowly being replaced with the appeal of everything being available at your fingertips.

Another major change is that the definition of what constitutes as a historical research project changes as well. There are more and more ways to present the findings of a research project other than a paper. Websites and podcasts now can share research in what might be considered more accessible and appealing to today’s age, who still want to learn about events of the past, but would rather listen to a podcast as they drive into work. While this can cause issues with historians who prefer the pre-digital process of historical research, those that can adapt to digital history can reach a boarder audience, while still keeping scholarly research and the root of their project.

I do believe that it is important for digital history to be apart of the education and work of current and upcoming historians. The digital movement is not slowing down, rather it is constantly growing and changing. Rather than fight these changes, the historical field should make the changes; create the change and make a new way to share the vast amount of history that surrounds us.

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Lessons on Digital History

Alyssa K. Brown

I did not necessarily learn anything new by looking at Alyssa’s site, however, exploring her site did confirm the notion, the simpler the better. It was easy to navigate and displayed her different works and accomplishments that would be easy to share with future employers or contacts.

Footprints in the Digital Age

I really enjoyed reading this article, while the author, Will Richardson, was discussing the constant changes and adaptations to living in a digital age, it was still written in a conversational tone. I would say my biggest takeaway from this article was the importance of transparency. How it is better to be open about what you are sharing and not to be afraid to shares your struggles or failures as you work on projects, and how this transparency might help in the long run if others are searching you to see what you have accomplished and can see that you are capable of acknowledging your issues, but also showing how you worked through those problems.

Stella Swope

I really enjoyed Stella’s site, it is honestly what I would expect when looking at a photographer’s site. The gallery layout is a great resource to be able to show off multiple projects you have done. The only thing I would say is when looking, specifically at her designs gallery, I would have been interested in what the background and reasoning for these different designs were. But overall I love how she kept it simple and focused on sharing her projects.

Digital Tattoos

I think that the Digital Tattoos project is something that we need in today’s day in age. The ability to learn about how you are presenting yourself on the internet truly does matter and to be able to learn about what you can do to change how you share yourself digitally is an immensely important resource.

Controlling Your Public Appearance

The beginning story of this article was really interesting because when thinking about people who have a smaller digital presence, realize that even a simple comment can be the first thing that people learn about them. As well as talking about being a teenager and being afraid of your parents finding your secret social media account, it is something that a large number of people have gone through or are going through. This article can open one’s eyes to how people view them on the internet when they make little to no effort of controlling their digital identity.

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The Role of Copyright in Digital History

I looked at the discussion sections of the Wikipedia pages Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, and Tower of London in order to see the progression and changes made to these pages. The first thing that I noticed is that people were not afraid to ask any kind of questions, add information, make a comment, or discuss what is on the page. The contributions seemed to all be made in an effort to make the Wikipedia pages more accessible and understandable, as well as to make sure that the information being provided was factual, or at the least stated the fact this a certain fact is what is believed, but the lack of evidence behind these beliefs.

It was also really interesting to read the comments left because it really felt like everyone was working together on this one digital history project, and despite there being input from multiple people of different locations and backgrounds, their main focus was making sure that the wiki pages were factual, accessible, grammatically correct, and not missing important parts about the different topics, to the best of their ability.

For the MWC at UVA/UMW Name changes project, the Creative Common License is going to fall under the library’s jurisdiction and follow what is already being done in the way of copyright laws; as the site will not only be apart of UMW’s library site, but the library is also going to care for the site in the long run.

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Digital History Project Reviews

The 2019 Rosenzweig Prize Recipient winners Robert K. Nelson, Justin Madron, Nathaniel Ayers, and Edward Ayers website, American Panorama: An Atlas of United States History is a great example of what technology can do to help the field of history expand its reaches to the world and modernize ways of sharing information. The site is simple but appealing, while at first it might seem odd or concerning that there is no form of a search engine or any pages, once you scroll down the information is all available. It is all well labeled and does not make it hard to either find a specific page or to explore what is available. Underneath the actual content of the site is more information about the purpose and creation of the site. Considering the fact that the site is only one page and simple in set up it is effective and appealing.

The site Valley of the Shadow is a decent site but does quickly show its age the second the site is open. The setup of the pages is very basic and the site does not have certain features that are common on more modern sites, such as the ability to click the site’s title at the top of the page and be taken to the home page. While the blueprint style of searching is a nice feature in thought it does make moving between pages somewhat of a struggle and there is an overwhelming amount of links to click on to actually get to any pertinent information. While the purpose of the site is good it could use an update.

The site Emile Davis Diaries does seem to be older, it does not seem to be as old as Valley of the Shadows. Despite being a bit older in appearance, the site is appealing and relatively easy to navigate. It is a nice touch that when hovering over the numbered tabs at the top of the page dates appear, which helps a user have a better idea of how the information is sorted. While the page could use a few stylistic updates it is still functional and not overly confusing.

The site Black Women’s Suffrage does have a more modern look to it compared to the past two sites reviewed. The site is appealing and it is easy to search through to find specific information. It is a bit more of a complex site when it comes to all of the information that is being offered, there are a number of links and pages to go; however, this does also show that the site is a more current site that is being monitored and updated by the creators.

Using all of the information that I have found while looking at these different sites there are a few points that I will make sure to take into consideration with my group’s site. From what I have seen the sites that are simple when it comes to organization and appearance are not only easier the site will be to use but will have a more timeless look (to the best it can) and not become overly dated in the future.

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Omeka Site Reviews

DIY History (http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/)

The site DIY History is well organized. The main page has hyperlinks to make finding what you’re searching for easy. The about page is informative in not only providing information on the purpose of the site and how it came to be but also information on what software they use. Under the about page there is also information about who can participate in transcribing for the site, which is helpful for those like myself who like to transcribe and this is a good opportunity to work on gaining experience. The Transcribe page is very well set up, not only is the transcription there but also an image of the original document so one can look at both. There is also a translate tab where translations of the original can be made and posted to be more inclusive to other languages. The style of the website is simple but effective, the colors are not distracting but help with making distinctions for separate tabs.

St. John’s College (https://digitalarchives.sjc.edu/about)

The site St. John’s College is well done. The about page is not only informative with information but also with contact information that those using this site might need for further assistance. The main thing I noticed about this site is that it makes good use of hyperlinks, they are not under or overused and also stand out against the surrounding text. The simple color scheme of the site is not distracting to the information. The collected information is easy to search, there is an all items tab to search all collections, there is a list of collections to find what you might be specifically looking for, and there are also specific tabs for locational collections. Under these locational collection tabs, hyperlinks are well used and there is more information about these separate collections.

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Why Did I Decide to take Digital History?

I decided to take Adventures in Digital History, not only because it fulfills graduation requirements, but it will hopefully help with what I hope to do in the future. My plan after obtaining my history major is to then go to graduate school for Library Science and then get a job in digital archives. I am hoping that this course will help me at least being to understand how the historical field has begun to integrate with technology and how we can make positive use of technology to share historical knowledge.

When I think about digital history is I think about how technology has been used to examine, study, observe, and share history. Whether using technology to find information about an ancestor from across the world or using technology to figure out the age of discovered artifacts; historians now have a great resource that they can use to aid in their research and that should be utilized not only for their purposes but for sharing historical information.

When I think about digital humanities I think about how humanities fields can use the internet study and find trends of human behavior. In today’s time technology and the internet make it easier (in some ways) to gather types of information that would have been harder a century or more ago when physical records were all that one could rely on.

There are many similarities between the two fields and I believe it would be near impossible to explore one field without interacting with the other, but the main difference between the two is that digital history is broader when it comes to what is covered under the word history. Digital history can cover from financial records to digital renditions of a damaged artifact. Digital humanities tends to focus on humanities, on the behavior, records, or portrayal of humans throughout time.