54 Matching Annotations
  1. Mar 2017
    1. One particular way that geospatial information density can increase is by animating it, adding time as another dimension of visualization. Just as a map can make one inch equal one mile, an animated time line can make one second equal one year. A simple combination of an animated map and a time line can create a powerful narrative without any text at all. A brilliant example of this is Isao Hashimoto’s animated map of the 2,053 nuclear explosions between 1945 and 1998, which dramatically narrates the contours of the nuclear age.[11] Aside from the title, there is no background information associated with the animation. The only text in the piece is in the legend, which emerges as each new nuclear power first explodes a device. Sound, not words, is used as a second way of highlighting the data points. Yet, despite the absence of background information text, almost anyone watching the animation will come away with a deep understanding of the key features of the nuclear age. Only a modest background knowledge (such as knowing who the main antagonists in the Cold War were) makes the presentation of what might seem dry factoids not only informative but moving.

      Hashimoto's piece is as powerful and informative as the author suggests.

    2. Snow’s cholera map showed that visualizations could serve as both narrative and analysis.
  2. Feb 2017
    1. We have to give up being authorities, controlling our discourse, seeing ourselves as experts who possess bodies of knowledge over which we have mastery. Instead we have to start thinking of what we do as participating in a conversation, and [sic] ongoing process of knowledge formation. What if we thought of academics as curators, people who keep things up to date, clean, host, point, and aggregate knowledge rather than just those who are responsible for producing new knowledge.

      Academics as curators.

    2. to digitize is not to democratize.

      This is important to remember.

    3. Notable projects that crowdsource historical problems range from Ancient Lives, a project to transcribe the Oxyrhynchus papyri; to Transcribe Bentham, a project to transcribe the papers of Jeremy Bentham; to the National Geographic Society’s Field Expedition: Mongolia, where contributors study satellite images of Mongolia to help direct the archaeological survey team on the ground.
    4. In April 2005, the Minuteman Project began conducting armed patrols of the U.S.-Mexico border under the pretext that borders were porous and susceptible to “terrorist organizations,” a reflection of the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hysteria of the post-9/11 era.

      Seems quaint these days.

    5. They recognized that it was, above all, an active workspace that both encapsulated and propelled the majority of the work for the course. During the semester, it became clear that using an open publishing platform expanded the opportunities for a range of student work and created conditions for pedagogical experimentation that simply were not present in a more traditionally structured introductory course.

      This sounds familiar. Though I'm still having a trouble thinking of our Rampage as an active workspace.

    6. The digitization of documents opens opportunities for more people to delve into the arcana of the past, but Tatum’s and DeWitt’s misinterpretations suggest one important role for historians at this cultural and digital moment is helping people gain the skills to interpret an era’s documents, photographs, and material culture.

      If I had to guess, Tatum and DeWitt are more interested in shaping the past in a way that is beneficial to their interpretation of "southern heritage" than leaning "the skills to interpret an era's documents..." in any meaningful way.


    7. That said, our best role is perhaps not that of an authoritative figure or the “sage on the stage”; the “guide on the side” role makes more sense in the digital space. There are tremendous possibilities for collaboration with the lay public, amateur historians, and other professionals. This digital revolution is making ever-larger pools of primary source materials accessible and opening avenues for exciting and sometimes challenging interpretations of those sources. Our role as historians—whether we hold academic degrees in history or learned to practice public history on the job—ought to be encouraging greater, more thoughtful participation in historiography regardless of medium.

      This article helped alleviate some of the frustration and concern I have as a historian-in-training on the subject of interacting with and countering the, often, ahistorical or agenda-driven work of amateur historians. It offers some kind of way forward in a post- or selective-fact (or "alternative fact") environment we currently find ourselves in.

    1. Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy,
    2. As we write our conference papers, journal articles, and book manuscripts, we worry about money, ownership, status, and tenure.

      What's it going to take to change this?

    3. Once submitted for peer review, our articles and monographs may take up to three years to appear in print.


    4. curation as opposed to detective work

      Seems like these are a key part of digital history and regular history.

    5. Could technology help us to create a more intellectually collaborative volume, with a more transparent process, in a relatively shorter period of time? And if so, would it produce a better book?

      Does it have to be a book? Where is the "upending conventional beliefs" and does a book "embody the promise [of] the digital age..."?

    6. The objective was to encourage all readers — invited experts and general audiences, senior scholars and students alike — to openly participate in the process of peer review and to engage in dialogues about what “good writing” means in history, regardless of professional status or institutional affiliation.

      I like this idea in principle.

    1. public history

      This is a reminder that digital history and public history are not necessarily synonymous.

    2. “The Past and Futures of Digital History”
    3. The controversies surrounding Time on the Cross and the Confederate flag were far more than just ivory tower academics quibbling over arcane historical details. Both examples involved very real stakes: how the United States understands the legacy of its enslavement of millions of black men and women.

      This is important. A good example of the intersection and value of public history and academic argumentation?

    4. Benjamin Schmidt posted a series of blog posts16 detailing his research that used a nineteenth-century ship’s logs to map historical maritime patterns (Schmidt, “Reading Digital Sources”).
    5. Near the end of the post I wrote, “Topic modeling offers a new and valuable way of interpreting the source material.” Maybe so, but left unsaid is the fact that I did not actually use the method to build an original interpretation about Martha Ballard and her world. I was content to outline the method and its results while stopping just short of argument.

      A trap?

    6. like a magic trick


    7. Lost amidst all of this attention, however, was the fact that there was little new or revelatory in my writing about the past itself. It made no new interpretations about women’s history or colonial New England or the history of medicine. It largely showed us results that we already knew—like the fact that people in Maine did not plant beans in January—or visualized patterns that had already been analyzed in far richer detail by historian Laurel Ulrich in A Midwife’s Tale.

      Risks associated by privileging tools over analysis. Or the attraction of tools over analysis? Something.

    8. After all, shouldn’t academic historians spend less time debating with one another and more time making the past accessible to nonacademics? This dichotomy between accessibility and argument is, of course, a false one; we can and indeed should do both.

      Important to note.

    9. Instead, public history projects garner far more popular attention than argument-driven academic analyses (Onion, “Five of 2014’s Most Compelling Digital History Exhibits and Archives”; Onion, “Five More Digital Archives and Historical Exhibits We Loved”).

      This is not difficult to imagine.

    10. Franco Moretti’s analytical concept of “distant reading,” meanwhile, has come to define how many people view and define the field of digital literary studies
    11. Debates over arguments, claims, and interpretations might have their place in public history, but they are not as central as the goal of making the past accessible, relevant, and useful for a wide audience.

      Important distinction.

    12. Every online exhibit or archive offers an interpretation about the past, explicitly or implicitly. But argumentation is not the organizing objective of public historians in the same way that it is for modern academic historians.

      Is this a bad thing? Blevins seems to think so.

    13. Public history’s ideology has had an overwhelmingly positive influence on digital history. A commitment to public engagement and accessibility has democratized both the consumption and production of history. Expanding the audience has simultaneously allowed digital history’s practitioners to expand the kind of work that they do: building new textual search interfaces like Bookworm, developing open-source software like Omeka, or redefining the scope of national archives like the Digital Public Library of America or the National Library of Australia (Cohen; Sherratt).13 It is a field that has become predicated on ambitious collaborative projects conducted with a broad audience in mind.

      Key word: "collaborative"

    14. At the top of this agenda was an overriding ideology: to democratize access to the past.

      A worthy goal, but what comes after?

    15. More so than teaching and far more so than hypertext, public history came to define how people, especially other historians, understood the practice of digital history.

      A good reminder that public history and digital history are not necessarily synonymous.

    16. It is simply that argument-based scholarship does not rank especially high on the field’s priority list.

      I'll admit that it doesn't rank especially high on my priority list. At least not in the traditional sense.

    17. Histories of the National Mall,
    18. Academic argumentation takes a backseat to the project’s larger goals and interventions: building a user-friendly mobile platform, narrating compelling stories about the Mall’s history, and facilitating exploration and discovery.

      Seems like a pretty solid set of goals.

    19. “cliometric”
    20. “Sunset for Ideology, Sunrise for Methodology?”
    1. Fourth, names are important.

      Accessibility continued.

    2. Third, the language, symbols, and navigational paths embedded in the digital project must be understandable by its users and participants.

      Accessibility continued.

    3. Projects must be accessible to those identified as potential audiences in a number of important ways. First, any public digital humanities project should be designed such that people of all abilities can use and access it on the Web. Second, projects should be built in ways that reach primary audiences on the platforms they regularly use.

      On accessibility.

    4. “shared authority,”
    5. Public digital humanities, digital public history, and digital public humanities all have strong roots in public history. In the United States, the practice of public history can be traced back to the early nineteenth century, when white women and men of means volunteered their time to save and preserve community stories, objects, and places (Kammen; West).

      A new way to look at the work of the men and women of the various individuals and organizations associated with preserving and shaping the memory of the Confederacy.

    6. Doing any type of public digital humanities work requires an intentional decision from the beginning of the project that identifies, invites in, and addresses audience needs in the design, as well as the approach and content, long before the outreach for a finished project begins.

      How can it also work to create new audience "needs"?

    7. Digital humanities scholars and practitioners are defined by the digital, which makes the difference in their humanities scholarship. Public historians and public humanities scholars are defined by the “public,” even when definitions of these practices are contested (National Council on Public History; Lubar). Suzanne Fischer offers a useful way of describing public history as “cracking open history as a democratic project, and doing it transparently, in public.” She also suggests that while public historians work with specific audiences on projects, they also have “a duty to serve particular communities” (“On the Vocation of Public History”). Public digital humanities, then, should be identified by the ways that it engages with communities outside of the academy as a means for doing digital humanities scholarship.

      All of this.

    8. It is important to recognize that projects and research may be available online, but that status does not inherently make the work digital public humanities or public digital humanities. Public history and humanities practices—in either digital or analog forms—place communities, or other public audiences, at their core.

      Important distinction.

  3. Jan 2017
    1. Hamlet on the Holodeck
    2. web history authors are significantly more diverse and significantly less likely to have formal credentials.

      The democratizing influence of digital history seems one of its most important characteristics. And though lack of "formal credentials" likely poses challenges, I think it might also help erode barriers that limit the participation of certain groups or certain areas of inquiry.

    3. Flexibility transforms the experience of consuming history, but digital media—because of their openness and diversity—also alters the conditions and circumstances of producing history.

      This seems important, especially the transformation of the production of history.

    4. A 2004 study found that almost half of the Internet users in the United States have created online content by building websites, creating blogs, and posting and sharing files. An astonishing 13 percent maintain their own websites, and one recent census counts more than seven million blogs.

      I wonder how these percentages have changed in the last 13 years?

    5. Documenting the American South
    6. American Memory
    7. Online accessibility means, moreover, that the documentary record of the past is open to people who rarely had entre before.

      The documentary record, as the authors discuss later, remains closed in many instances.

    8. seven qualities of digital media and networks that potentially allow us to do things better: capacity, accessibility, flexibility, diversity, manipulability, interactivity, and hypertextuality (or nonlinearity).

      Seven advantages of digital media and networks.

    9. change—though not revolution—surrounds us.

      What to think of this assessment in 2017?

    10. Debating Wired Executive Editor Kevin Kelly in the May 1994 issue of Harper’s, literary critic Sven Birkerts implored readers to “refuse” the lure of “the electronic hive.” The new media, he warned, pose a dire threat to the search for “wisdom” and “depth”—“the struggle for which has for millennia been central to the very idea of culture.”2

      Full article available as PDF here:


    11. the inaugural issue of Wired magazine from the spring of 1993