I am taking this class because I am interested in the ways digital tools prop up interest in historical topics. I want to develop the skills to help shape the understanding of developing historical topics with digital tools and present information more effectively when doing big projects. (perhaps like the 485)
To me Digital history is the use of tools such as GIF’s, Databases, Timelines, Maps, Etc. to tell a historical story for example the ‘Library of Congress’ American Memory project‘ which deploys many tools in the effort of archiving and displaying specialized topics in American history ~ like the evolution of the conservation movement. Digital history is seen as a branch Digital humanities which has been a rapidly developing field throughout our lifetime. Digital humanities uses the vast amount of digital tools to display and analysis the humanities be it literature or history. I think the major difference between Digital history and the broader Digital humanities is the wide umbrella term humanities; which has to be directly defined and is inherently big tent. There is an interesting turn where many digital historians engage deeply in the local level to avoid the broad terms. Historians taking these digital tools and making them public facing has reshaped the role and place of historians in the modern day, Digital history is the future of defining histography.
A People’s archive
“Preserve the Baltimore Uprising began as a digital repository designed to preserve and make accessible original content captured and created by individual community members, grassroots organizations, and witnesses to the protests that followed the death of Freddie Gray on April 19, 2015.” I think this project is one of the most beautiful use of these digital tools I have seen. with the ethos of documententing a moment of rage and uprising from the perspective of those who lived through it, is so profoundly powerful. The breakdown of content of the archives into Photos, Videos, Oral Recordings, Produced Recordings, written accounts, and Email Archives; is a great and user friendly way to make the archive accessible. This is all grounded by a map of Baltimore, which reminds us of the ethos. “Help us gather and preserve the different perspectives and experiences of protest and unrest. Too often, history is shaped by official accounts. When the history of the Baltimore Uprising is written, we want to make sure it can include voices from the streets as well as voices from the halls of government.” This very grassroots approach defines the entire website, going as far to have a tutorial for doing oral histories. I think this is the standout unique feature of this website being so uniquely driven by a community, by people who actively defined their own history. A completely amazing great facet that makes this a very public facing history.
Making Modern America
Making modern america does a more traditional and educational approach going as far as to build in a lesson plan section of the website. The cornerstone of this site is the collection of modern and historical photographs and the access to documents. Supplemented to these documents and photographs are interactive maps that lead to tours of Oklahoma; where the project was created. This project would not be possible without the dedication and research of students at the University of Oklahoma. I feel as if this site will be a closer look into what my teams site may end up looking like; compared to the Baltimore uprising site. Mostly because this site does a great job giving a general overview instead of an up close and personal story. Not that it’s a bad approach, in fact it does a great job at exploring the topic, I was just more impacted by the approach Baltimore uprising took; which is inherently an experimental take and one that could not be done here.
Western Border site
Something done very well by this site is the organization, it is immediately clear where all the tools are stored and the information is housed. I think the featured document section is a great highlight for the front page and emblematic of the smart design choices made by the Kansas city public Library. The site as a whole feels very modern and slick in all but a few areas. For one the citations are a bit older and are aging, for example one of the highlighted essays only cites sources from before 1999; being that this site is being used for public education one would like to see more up to date sources. There are also some technical things that are starting to show their age, say the timeline which is a little sluggish. I think this site is a very well designed piece though and could be very beneficial to my teams design philosophy in structure.
Gilded Age Murder
This site is very much my jam, I love the classic aesthetic and the topic! That being said though it is very old visually. Although due to the nature of the sources it lives on really well since they are mostly first hand legal documents and other great primary sources. I think aiming for a more timeless approach to citation is a great way for a digital history project to live on past it’s digital coil and abode. I really appreciate the amount of thought that went into this project, the whole philosophy of a “non-linear thinking” approach is fascinating and in my eyes an amazing way to take this subject. My team definitely can use this structural thought process to go about documenting James Farmer Hall and it’s many iterations, with both the physical landscape and the political elements of its story.
Mapping the Republic of Letters
This project is a data visualization and deep look at the figures of the early modern Liberal movement, be it John Locke or Ben Franklin or the Jesuit’s and Architects in Italy their is a look at the networks they used. I really do enjoy the “how to cite” section, and all of the love this site has for the contributors including a video explaining the process and the people who help. I well say this is the site I looked at that made me the least excited while also being set in one of my favorite era’s of study, I feel as if this site with it’s vast amount of information feels a little barren and a bit too honed in. I think it’s vast amounts is something to aspire towards but it’s far too academic in my view to inspire a project of our scope.
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