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Historical Scholarship in the Digital Age

Liveblogging: The Programming Historian

William J. Turkel, professor of history at the University of Western Ontario, is on the UNL campus today giving a talk titled, “Interactive, Ambient and Tangible Devices for Knowledge Mobilization.”

11:03 Following a brief introduction, Turkel described his talk as the exciting work he is currently undertaking, rather than presenting a published paper. Some of his current work stems from Geocoding photographs of the Chilcotin region , which was the focus of his dissertation. Turkel states that he sought to tell a story with no written archival record and tell an environmental history of an area over 300 million years.

11:05 As soon as he started searching for sources, he found thousands and thousands of sources including an interesting story of the people performing research extraction in the region. Turkel came to find every place as an Archive. Things come from a past that is progressively deeper. In his work, Turkel wants to consult the archival record while performing field work to better reconstruct the past with the present. Mostly historians have to take the field back to the archives, or vice versa, but it would be excellent to have the archival record with you in the field. Historians are able to do this via digital means. Turkel discusses instances where students digitized maps and documents and geocoded them so that they are usable with ArcGIS, so that this information could be used in the field. This is partially how Turkel involves people in digital history. Additionally, he notes that he put together a pilot project with area youth to get them involved with digital work in the field.

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