Hello, my fellow historians and digital media enthusiasts. My name is Sierra Solomon, a proud Baltimorean who now resides in the trenches of Reston, Virginia. Two things that are helpful to know about me are: I’m a huge dog-lover and yogi. I have an amazing 6-month old fur-son (puppy) named Roshi. Roshi is named after two great characters from two great animes, Naruto Shippuden and Dragon Ball Z. Aside from puppy training and anime binging, the remainder of my free time, aside from studying, is dedicated to yoga. I practice Bikram yoga faithfully. Bikram is a style of yoga composed of twenty-six postures in a room set at 105 degrees. It may sound torturous, but it is a great way to relieve stress, meditate and energize you to tackle the hard work that comes with graduate school.
Prior to enrolling in American University’s Public History program, I received a Bachelors in Political Science and Pan African Studies at Kent State University (Go Flashes!). Before college, there was always a burning curiosity for understanding why and how race mattered in my quality of life and the way American society was structured based on institutionalized racism. Post my undergraduate studies, my experience in the workforce heightened my desire to understand, transcribe and share the Black experience to mass audiences in hopes of breaking down boundaries that impede social progress and high quality of life for all people. My journey to study Black experience narratives, specifically Black women, Black images and race history, is what brought me to American University. The question of how to utilize digital media to share these histories with the world is what brought me to register for this digital history course.
There is no doubt that digital media has revolutionalized information production and delivery at a rapid pace. Digital media makes content more accessible and interactive with physical proximity to a physical insititute no longer a barrier for exchanging information. Information can reach a wider, more diverse audience in real time, in comparison to traditional museums and historic sites. This placeless space for information sharing is an ideal tool for historians seeking to create shared authority and engage in contemporary history.
The optimism of digital history is not why I enrolled in this course. A grasping skepticism of whether digital media presents more harm than good as a base for information sharing. How can scholars regulate and preserve historic content on a virtual platform? On a platform where anyone can drive a narrative and publish content for millions of people to see simultaneously, how can historicans publishing evidence-based research compete? The public is bombarded with mass information night and day, what can historians do to present their work in a way that does not get drowned by the competing stories? I trust these questions will be resolved by the end of this course along with learning other tricks of the trade to improve my understanding of digital history.