Here are some nontraditional ways history is presented and discussed:
Social Media Accounts
I would want to analyze a single aspect of World War II, an event, object, or person, and how it is presented or reviewed across digital platforms. If someone uploaded a YouTube video about, say D-Day, how does it fair against a subreddit post about D-Day? What is the level of discussion in the comments, how do they review the posts? Do they contribute, add, or detract from the validity of the history discussed?
I believe surveying how people share the same history and examining the levels of popularity may answer questions on which method is most effective. I also want to examine how such a popular topic in history is expanded on. The greatest hits of history are played, shared, and discussed at nauseum, but new aspects of the same covered topic are being presented. I believe a YouTube video on a channel such as “The Operations Room”, where popular battles in history are demonstrated using computer simulators, tells the same story of D-Day in a comprehensive new way. The same subject may be presented in a videogame or movie, only from different perspectives. What liberties are taken in video games, movies, or shows vs. subreddits, YouTube channels, or Instagram accounts? Who bears more responsibility for being historically accurate and why is that?
By examining the metrics available such as views, comments, likes, downloads, and commercial success, we can analyze the levels of engagement and approval. This may suggest an overall trend in “good history” past written and physical text. As digital history is the future of how history is taught, historians have a responsibility to vet which sources can be taken seriously vs. which are inaccurate and unreliable.
But this project isn’t simply to trash “bad history”. What is most important to remember is, so long as history is continually being reviewed and discussed, it shouldn’t matter where that is or who is doing it. It’s only natural coming generations will opt to use digital tools rather than historic texts. What would normally be covered in hundreds of pages in countless books could now be covered in a 10-minute video. Is that bad? Is it good? Hopefully, this project will instill hope and excitement about how history will be enhanced by visual and audio tools never before possible and how much more accessible learning and discussing history can be.
One Reply to “How are you using digital history? How should you be using it?”
The idea of looking at representations of D-Day across various media is really compelling. Even just the images you shared in your post are really evocative of some of the iconic ways that moment in history is used for various purposes.
I really like your point that the goal of this is not to just point out “bad history” but to explore how and why this topic is being used in various ways. This, I think, connects to a broader note for a lot of us looking at studying various popular or vernacular forms of historical storytelling. While it’s interesting to look at questions of accuracy in representations, it’s almost always more interesting to delve into questions of framing, point of view, and questions of how/why a given topic is being discussed or included at all.
All of that said, I think there is one thing in particular that I find interesting to consider with D-Day representations. That historical photo seems to really clearly be the point of reference for the way that shot is framed in Saving Private Ryan. I’ve also seen it represented that way in video games. I think there is something there about that particular first person point of view of being on the ship looking out into the invision that taps into something deep down and thus becomes a really iconic representation of that historical moment. So I think it would be interesting to see how/when that first person view is used and also to look for cases where it isn’t. Are there differences in what stories are being told that emerge from the presence or absence of that specific point of view?