S&T Visualizing History: Some Examples and Some Thoughts

A few weeks months ago, I had brought up a YouTube video, “Visualizing Empires Decline” as a well-crafted example of visual media demonstrating historical concepts and facts.

The creator, Pedro Cruz, has a variety of work on his website.

So who is Pedro Cruz?  Originally starting out in the field  Physics Engineering,  he switched over to Informatics Engineering and holds a degree from the University of Coimbra.  He has been a researcher at  the Centre for Informatics and Systems of the University of Coimbra (CISUC), as well as having done work here in the States at MIT Sensible City Lab.  As a doctoral student at Coimbra, he as been a research assistant at the  Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART).  He’s also won a a decent selection of awards for his work, and has been mentioned in numerous publications. (Huffington Post anyone?)

So why the long list of his (rightfully earned) accolades?  Cruz’s work is impressive, and demonstrates that creating high quality and innovative visualizations is an industry unto itself.  This brings me to my question: Realistically, how can historians incorporate innovative visualization media, such as that of Cruz’s,  into their own work, when creating this media requires either the Perfect Renaissance Historian, or the dreaded C-Word (Collaboration)?  Do the lines of communications exist between traditional historians and professionals such as Cruz?  How (or Do) opportunities arise to foster this type of collaboration?

Snowballing off of this, let me throw in some work from a company called Soomo Publishing, which creates innovative learning materials for college courses.  They work via contract, so that materials are created for a specific university for a specific class.  With “Goodbye Static, Hello Interactive” on the front of their website, Soomo Publishing makes it loud and clear that their presentation (and therefore interpretation) of history is the wave of the future.  At least if we want history to be in any way enjoyable and relevant – and therefore digested – by future generations.    And their work is attractive, to say the least.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=IYQhRCs9IHM

All of the content I’ve presented here in this post I have enjoyed immensely, which begs the question: Are Historians still the gatekeepers of history anymore?  Or more importantly, are historians still involved with history that’s digested by the public?

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