Reading Response: Digital exhibition, hypermedia narrative

Guiliano Chapter 9 “Storytelling” 

This chapter of Guiliano’s work, A Primer for Teaching Digital History, focuses on the ways in which students can narrate their own version of historical thinking. Guiliano opens the chapter with the now iconic cultural touchstone of Hamilton and shows how this phenomenon is nothing new, citing many other iconic history-based works. In my opinion, you could make an entire top 20 list of just Vietnam War movies. But what does this have to do with digital history? Giuliano ties the entire chapter together by citing how many different formats, from the TV show Drunk History, to games such as Sid Meier’s Civilization, and even projects such as the podcast Ben Franklin’s World, are all examples of digital storytelling within the medium of history. Even though some are more liberal with their depictions of history, they all invite audiences to engage with history. Guilano then goes on to highlight why digital storytelling is such an effective tool for students. Specifically, it allows students to give their work more depth and interact with various forms of scholarship. All of this helps students think more creatively when interacting with sources and how many layers there are when creating works of history. Basically, footnotes are boring, but hyperlinks are rad. Of course, there are also drawbacks to this type of work; when you can interact with infinite audiences, it can become hard to narrow your work down. One key to using these resources effectively is to make sure your audience is clear. This has me thinking about my own digital storytelling as I trek across the District of Columbia; who would want to watch this, what would their motivation be, and how do I make it accessible and entertaining for them? Ultimately I find this article does a great job of explaining digital storytelling as a tool and how to use the tool effectively. 

Big Data, Little Narration 

Big data, little narration asks the thought-provoking question that classic archives have been asking since their inception. How do we make sense of and provide context for a collection? Through a faux text message conversation with Dragan, we see that concepts such as context, authenticity, and representation are difficult to discern in the digital age. For example, is it authentic to recreate the site as it would have looked in the late 90s, or is it more authentic to see it as it would appear on a search engine today? I think this article demonstrates how context can enhance digital content; for instance,, Dragan discusses how they create the Geocities webpage screenshots displaying the webpage, which invites new internet users to engage with the content. Instead of showing an interesting fact or common searches locking the user into whatever question was asked that was out of their control, the Geocities page lets future historians cringe enthusiasts or just nostalgic millennials ask questions and interact with the data in a more meaningful way. 

Re-collection: Art, New Media, and Social Memory  

For our purposes Re-Collection: Art, New Media, and Social Memory chapter 2 focuses on the concept of social memory and how it relates to the preservation and the challenge that new media presents within this space. Rinehart invites the reader to inspect how society thinks of and remembers itself and what we can do to help preserve that notion here in the present. By using Toy Story as a case, student Rinehart shows that digital preservation can be a funky practice. Determining which copy is the original, in this case, film versus digital copies, and how preservation still needs to occur regardless of that process. The rest of the book investigates how technology, institutions, and law also affect the idea of preservation and social memory. 

Getting to the Stuff: Digital Cultural Heritage Collections, Absence, and Memory

Getting to the stuff does precisely what it says and attempts to show how cultural heritage sites such as museums and archives can show their stuff off in a productive manner. What I appreciated most about this article was the amount of clever data-driven research that Sheila embarks on for this project. Using case samples from actual museums gives valuable insight into the field’s current state. In addition, the article asks the very important question of what other conversations a museum can join, where conversations can happen, and how museums ensure their content can exist outside of a brick-and-mortar building. Grappling with these questions is imperative for a museum field now entrenched in the digital age.  

Museumbots: An Appreciation

What do we choose to see when we enter a museum? As someone who now works behind the scenes in what is possibly the most boring role in a fascinating institution, the amount of gears that turn to put an object in front of a visitor is staggering. Museumbots, in many ways, eliminate the human aspect of the museum field; rather than a hand-selected, carefully displayed work, it tweets pictures of just about anything and everything. Lubar not only raises the point about how carefully curated a museum is but also invites conversation on what else could be made random and highlight fascinating aspects of a museum. By using museum bots to showcase the variety of what a museum holds, it invites audiences who would otherwise not know they were represented in a collection to your institution. 

Curating in the Open: Martians, Old News, and the Value of Sharing as you go

This article by esteemed digital historian Trevor Owens focuses on the importance of sharing your project as you go and the interesting ways audiences react to curating media on a digital platform. Throughout his conversation on the virality of delicious Martian vegetables, we see that content does not have to exist rigidly in a vacuum that no one can see until the fully polished piece is finished. Rather, sharing content allows audiences to find and interact with whatever themes or issues you are trying to present. In this way, digital media can be a place to post your ideas, progress, concepts, or even your problems. By not pushing this material but still making it available, you can see how an organic audience understands it, what lessons they take away, or the public perception of your work. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *