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Historical Scholarship in the Digital Age

The Mouse Turns 40

Seeing as how this blog deals with technology and history, I thought it appropriate to point out that the humble mouse turned forty today.

firstmouseunderside

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Things Noted

Kevin Smith, Power, error, and a “crucial historian” Scholarly Communications
“Starting with a truly frightening story about how easily misinformation is spread on the web, librarian Amy Fry discusses some important lessons that we not only can, but must, learn about information in the digital age.”

Larry Ferlazzo, The Best Tools for Making Online Timelines Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day
“There are many online timeline tools out there. But I’ve only found very few — three, in fact — that are easily accessible to English Language Learners and non-tech-savvy students and teachers, free, and allow users to grab images off the web to add to their final product.”

Nick Poyntz, Digital history and early modern studies Mercurius Politicus
“The discussion in the JAH was mostly in relation to the wider public accessing historical sources. But can digital sources also alter the reality we as scholars reconstruct from a source?”

Mills Kelly, You Have Been Warned edwired
“What really has me charged up this semester is that I’m teaching a new course, ‘Lying About the Past’ that is an investigation of historical hoaxes, plagiarism, and fakery.”

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Things Noted

Siva Viadhyanathan, Generational Myth Chronicle
“Consider all the pundits, professors, and pop critics who have wrung their hands over the inadequacies of the so-called digital generation of young people filling our colleges and jobs. Then consider those commentators who celebrate the creative brilliance of digitally adept youth. To them all, I want to ask: Whom are you talking about? There is no such thing as a ‘digital generation.'”

Rachel Leow, Indulgence and Sin A Historian’s Craft
“I am reading my slow, marvellous way through the Yule-Cordier edition of The Travels of Marco Polo, armed with Google Maps, Google Images, Wikipedia and the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.”

Lisa Spiro, Is Wikipedia Becoming a Respectable Academic Resource? Digital Scholarship in the Humanities
“How many humanities and social sciences researchers are discussing, using, and citing Wikipedia?”

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How Big is the Web?

Google Blog: “The first Google index in 1998 already had 26 million pages, and by 2000 the Google index reached the one billion mark. Over the last eight years, we’ve seen a lot of big numbers about how much content is really out there. Recently, even our search engineers stopped in awe about just how big the web is these days — when our systems that process links on the web to find new content hit a milestone: 1 trillion (as in 1,000,000,000,000) unique URLs on the web at once!”

Filed under: News, Web

Featured Articles – June 22, 2008

Robert B. Townsend, “Links, Spaces, and Changing Habits of Historical ResearchAHA Today
“So if researchers are not at the library, where are they? The most obvious answer is that they are making greater use of digital materials, which can make trips to the library much more targeted and focused. Some recent studies help to validate that impression, but also point out a few problems that occur on the path from idea to publication.”

Cathy Davidson, “Should Digital Scholarship ‘Count’ Towards Tenure?HASTAC
“[E]xcellent scholarship should not be excluded from a tenure file simply because the form of its production happens to be electronic. If the scholarship is refereed by scholars in the field and deemed publishable, if it has impact and meets the highest professional standards, it is hard to think of what possible, rational argument could be made against it counting in the way its equivalent paper-version would count. Scientists often publish in journals that exist only on line. We have plenty of models out there that have been accepted in a range of disciplines where no one has problems distinguishing “excellent” from “okay” scholarship simply because its mode of production happens to be electronic.”

Nicholas Carr, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?Atlantic Monthly
“Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.”

Mills Kelly, “Making Digital Scholarship Count” (Part 1, Part 2) edwired
“Today I am inaugurating an extended series of posts on the question of how digital scholarship should ‘count’ in the ways that things count at colleges and universities. As more and more scholars do work in the digital environment they are expecting this work to count toward tenure, promotion, and other types of formal evaluation (in the hiring process, for instance).”

Jennifer Howard, “Advocacy Group for History Endorses Electronic-Records BillThe Chronicle
“The National Coalition for History, a leading history-advocacy group, has come out in support of the Electronic Message Preservation Act, now pending in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, HR 5811, was introduced by Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California, a Democrat who is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. It would direct the National Archives and Records Administration ‘to establish standards for the capture, management, preservation, and retrieval’ of federal-agency and presidential records in electronic format, the coalition said in announcing its support.”

Filed under: News

Featured Articles – May 29, 2008

A couple digital items of note:

L. Gordon Crovitz, “The Digital Future of BooksWall Street Journal
“This seems like a fitting time to ask: If the Internet is the most powerful communications advance ever – and it is – then how do this medium and its new devices affect how and what we read?”

Dan Cohen, “Mass Digitization of Books: Exit Microsoft, What Next?Dan Cohen Digital Humanities Blog
“So Microsoft has left the business of digitizing millions of books—apparently because they saw it as no business at all. . . . But with the cost of digitizing 10 million pre-1923 books at around $300 million, where might this scale of funds and new partners come from? To whom can the Open Content Alliance turn to replace Microsoft?

Stephen Mihm, “Everyone’s a historian nowBoston Globe
“[The Internet] represents a potentially radical change to historical research, a craft that has changed little for decades, if not centuries. By aggregating the grass-roots knowledge and recollections of hundreds, even thousands of people, ‘crowdsourcing,’ as it’s increasingly called, may transform a discipline that has long been defined and limited by the labors of a single historian toiling in the dusty archives.”

David Pogue, “Can e-Publishing Overcome Copyright Concerns?New York Times
Pogue writes about his experiences with publishing in the digital age.

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