Digital History 2021 Starts now!

I hope that this message finds you safe and well. I’m excited to share this post as a kickoff to the start of Digital History Spring 2021 at American University.

Welcome to digital history everyone!

This year marks the tenth anniversary since the first time I taught this course back in 2011 and I always really enjoy the chance to explore how digital technologies are changing what it’s possible for historians to do.

For a little more background on me, I’m the Head of Digital Content Management at the Library of Congress and have worked in a range of roles over the last 15 years on digital history and digital library and archives initiatives. You can see more about me on my website.

Given the global pandemic, we are going to be having our class discussion sessions on Zoom. Along with that, we are going to largely work with each other over the course of the semester through our course’s public blog. The course blog is effectivly like a journal or a magazine that we publish both for each other and for anyone else around the world that wants to follow along and join in.

All the instances of this course, and a few other that I have taught over the last decade, work through this blog. Given the focus on public writing and public history his is a key part of our course design. 

I would encourage you all to take some time going back through the course blog and through some of the lists of projects from pervious semesters. It’s both a nice resource for seeing how the course has worked in the past and for getting ideas for things you might focus on for your course project. 

Of note, all the course readings are available online. This includes all the course text books which you can get access through the AU Library’s eBook collection. If you prefer to read print copies of the books, they are also relatively inexpensive. 

As we get started, or if you’re following along from outside the class, be sure to read the course syllabus. Our first class session is really focused on talking through the syllabus and making sure everyone is comfortable and clear on the course requirements. If you have any concerns or issues that you want me to be aware of up front, don’t hesitate to reach out to me over email.

Everyone’s first task on the blog is to introduce yourself to the class and those who might read along from elsewhere.

The world is a strange and scary place right now and we are all going through a lot. I’m happy to help anyone talk through/think through anything we need to do together to all be safe, supported, and successful in this semester. 

Defining Digital History & Kicking Off the Course

I hope everyone is on track to enjoy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. If you’re looking for ways to honor the work and legacy of MLK, you might find this post of use.  The post presents it’s own opportunity to consider the ways that history is communicated and shared online.

As a result of the holiday, we are holding virtual class this week. That means that we are doing many of the same kinds of things we would do face-to-face in class but over our course blog. To that end, I’m thrilled that we have a series of great introductory posts to our work this week identifying and defining what digital history is and what it means for us to become digital historians.

Be sure to;

  1. Read this weeks course readings
  2. Read and comment on at least one of this weeks blogs
  3. Try out the sites and tools that are shared in the practicum posts
  4. Gear up for our first face-to-face class next Monday, January 28th.

Situating Digital History

We are lucky to start off our class this week with three great posts that can serve as solid examples of the kinds of writing and thinking we are going to engage in here on the course blog and in our class. Huge thanks to Emily, Haley, and Maren for kicking us off so well!

In Digital History is for Everyone, Emily explores issues around argumentation in digital history, issues in ethics around communication of history through different approaches to social media, and a range of ways to get involved and start doing digital history with various online tools and systems.

In Let’s Get Digital: Theorizing Digital History, Haley digs into a bit of the history of digital history and the potential stakes for the relevancy of historical work in the digital age.

In Introducing Digital: Saving the Humanities & Solving the World’s Contemporary Problems? Maren explores issues in the rhetoric around digital technology and some critical perspectives on the functions and effects of digital history.

Starting to Do Digital History

Alongside our work reading and writing about digital history we are also going to engage in hands on explorations of some digital history projects and tools. It’s worth noting, in keeping with some of our initial definitional work, even the claim about what it is to do digital history is itself a bit fraught. Clearly writing is itself a way that we do digital history too.

Laura has put together a great overview of all three sites/tools we are exploring this week for practicums (Wordle, HistoryPin, and PhillaPlace). Be sure to check out each of the individual sites and tools. It is worth noting that HistoryPin may well be a useful tool to consider using for course projects.

Along with those overviews, Isaac has put together a nice in-depth walk through of how to use Wordle to create simple visualizations of texts. Take some time to follow along with the directions there and see what kinds of results you can get.

Some reminders

So we are off to a great start! With that noted, I want to make sure everyone is up and running with everything you need before our first face to face meeting next week.

To that end be sure that you

  1. Reach out to me to get your blog account (there are a few folks that still need to get account’s set up.
  2. Post your introductory blog post. If you are having trouble getting your post up reach out to me and I can help.
  3. If you haven’t signed up for which weeks you are writing about/leading discussion on some of the readings and practicums do that soon
  4. Lastly, seven of you are on deck to get posts up about practicums and readings before class next week. It may also be a good idea to reach out to each other to coordinate who will write about what. Do not hesitate to reach out to me directly if you need any help sorting through what you need to do for those assignments.

Looking forward to seeing everyone next week and to following along with great discussion on the blog in advance of then.

Welcome to Digital History Methods

Welcome to Digital History Methods (History and New Media HIST 677-477). This course explores the current and potential impact of digital media on the theory and practice of history. It also counts as a tool of research course, which means that it will provide you with knowledge of “standard tools of research/analysis.” In this course we are going to explore the impact digital technologies on the historian’s craft. The notion of the historian’s craft here is intentionally expansive. Digital tools are effecting nearly every aspect of historical work, including but not limited to; collecting, organizing, presenting and sources; analyzing and interpreting sources; modes of scholarly and broader public communications; techniques for teaching.

As a methods course, our focus is entirely about the how of history not the what of history. We will focus on how digital tools and digital sources are affecting historical research and the emerging possibilities for new forms of scholarship, public projects and programs. For the former, we will explore new analytic methods (tools for text analysis and data visualization) along with work on issues related to interpreting born digital and digitized primary sources. For the latter, we will explore a range of digital media history resources, including practical work on project management and design. We will read a range of works on designing, interpreting and understanding digital media. Beyond course readings we will also critically engage a range of digital tools and resources.

Course Goals

After the course students will be able to:

  1. Thoughtfully and purposefully engage in dialog about history on the public web with a range of stakeholders in digital history: historians, archivists, museum professionals, educators, and amateurs, etc.
  2. Discover, evaluate, and implement digital tools and digital sources to support emerging and proven forms of historical scholarship, public projects, and teaching.
  3. Develop proposals for digital history resources with detailed plans for project management, design, outreach, and evaluation.
  4. Understand and articulate the key issues in collecting, preserving and interpreting digital and digitized primary sources from the perspective of a historian.

Welcome to Digital Preservation INST 784

You have found your way to the course site Information Studies 784, Digital Preservation, a graduate seminar at the University of Maryland. The course meets this fall in College Park, Maryland.

The course syllabus is available here. This course is built around this public course blog where we share and constructively comment on the work of our fellow learners.

Along with engaging with course readings, each student in this course works as a digital preservation consultant for a small cultural heritage organization. So posts to this blog will explore both thematic issues in digital preservation and report outs on attempts to apply what we are learning to help a small cultural heritage organization develop it’s approach to digital preservation.

The best way to get ahold of me, the instructor, is email. You can reach me at trevor dot john owens at gmail dot com.