- Kirklin Bateman, Sheila Brennan, Douglas Mudd, and Paula Petrik, “Taking a Byte Out of the Archives: Making Technology Work for You,” From the Archives and Research column of the January 2005 Perspectives, http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2005/0501/0501arc1.cfm
- Roger Launius, ” Interesting Study Issued: Supporting the Changing Research Process of Historians,” Roger Launius’s Blog, 2/25/2013.http://launiusr.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/interesting-study-issued-supporting-the-changing-research-practices-of-historians/
- Kenneth M. Price, “Edition, Project, Database, Archive, Thematic Research Collection: What’s in a Name?” Digital Humanities Quarterly 2009: Volume 3 Number 3.http://digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/3/000053/000053.html
- Sam Ford, “Without Human Insight, Big Data is Just a Bunch of Numbers,” Fast Company,12/19/2012, http://www.fastcompany.com/3004000/without-human-insight-big-data-just-bunch-numbers
This week’s readings definitely showed me just how useful and important digitized historical resources are. I was skeptical at first because I’m so used to having a database be a library, but now I understand how synthesizing information is progressive. It also serves as a visual aid to the public. For example, digitizing maps and other visual resources allow for more comparisons to be drawn, and analytical approaches to be taken in history. Similar to a library, digitizing documents, for example, is a great tool for organizational purposes. The internet is a terrific record keeper – particularly, if I find for primary source documents. When I wrote my undergraduate thesis on Septima Clark, I wanted so badly to go to the College of Charleston and be granted access to her archives, but that is nearly impossible as an eager undergrad. It would have been so helpful if those resources had been digitized and available for the public to look at because it allows for people to connect with a certain place, person, event etc. without actually being at the location. This is the idea that Roger Launius brought forth – that digital history engages the public. And he talks about this in relation to digitizing documents, the use of digital cameras, and scanners as methods of relaying information to people regardless of their geographical locations.
I was really interested in the point that Kenneth Price brought up in that digital history allows for expansion beyond the “Anglophone culture” because it is really an outlet for people around the world to access international resources. I never thought about the impact that digitizing history would have on other cultures and there is significant benefit to this. Digital archives are crucial for our society – especially for non-library goers, and for those who simply do not have access to physical resources, but can locate documents via the internet which today, is very easily accessible. The collection of data really does impact and help historians and history in general because it enables the synthesis of quantitative information in relation to cultural artifacts. However, Sam Ford brings up good points in that we need to make sure that people don’t “start speaking of the technology as if it drives culture and humanity, rather than thinking of technology as a tool” (Sam Ford, Without Human Insight Big Data is Just a Bunch of Numbers). This is my personal fear about digital history because we will always need human insight to synthesize the quantitative information. For example, there is significant flaw in data regarding African-American’s decision at the ballots over the past century or so – considering they only recently received the right to vote, there cannot be data about whom they voted for. For matters such as this, we need historians to take the quantitative into consideration and analyze how it fits or does not fit into society. Human analysis (hopefully) is always going to be essential in history.