Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Final Frontier?

Will digital history facilitate sharing authority and inquiry? Will placing primary sources at people’s fingertips create a more historically literate public? As a class you read three articles that grapple with these questions. Cohen and Brown both discuss the possibilities and problems with digital history. Many of you remarked about how exciting data mining can be for historians. Many of you also raised good skepticism about the relationship between quantity and quality. If the public does not know how to read a source critically, then does it matter whether it is online? How can public historians help the public to think historically about a source? What do we gain by being able to access information online? What do we lose? What is the difference between looking at a specific newspaper article from the 188s or skimming through the entire issue? What is clear is that discussing digital history opens up more questions then it answers and that is an exciting proposition.

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