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Historical Scholarship in the Digital Age

The WHA: A Debrief

The Nebraska CrewTM made it back safely from Salt Lake, where a group of us attended the WHA Conference. I think I can speak for the group when I say we had a blast.  Additionally, the digital history panel went as well as we could’ve hoped.  There were a couple of problems.  Unfortunately, Dr. Seefeldt was unable to join us and Nathan lost his voice (though regained enough of it to present) and we didn’t have wireless Internet, the panel went off without a hitch and generated some great discussion.  And having Dr. Richard White comment on the panelists was a real honor.  If you weren’t able to attend, check out Doing Digital History to catch up on the three presentations and add some comments.  My guess is one of us will be doing at least one more post about the conference at DDH.

The remainder of the conference was great as well, although I wish the panels hadn’t been spread out between two buildings.  And there might have been a more appropriate hotel to host the conference at.  The Marriott was built for the 2002 Olympics and designed to maximize the number of people they could fit into the building rather than designed for conferences, so the conference rooms were small and almost every panel I attended had people standing during the presentations.  Overall, however, a positive experience for my first WHA conference.

In other news, I’ve picked up the diminutive and cheap Dell Mini 9 and have to say I’m really impressed so far.  I had debated between the Dell, HP Mini-Note PC, and Asus Eee PC for a while before deciding on Dell.  I’ve had good experiences with Dell throughout the years I’ve been using them and decided to stay loyal.  Part of the reason I enjoy the Mini 9 so much is that it’s running Linux (Ubuntu 8.04), though you can pick one up that runs Windows XP.  I’ve become a great fan of open source.  Linux runs better than XP and is powerful enough for my needs (my desktop runs XP which I use for my high-powered computing needs).  I’ve been a Windows user for all my life, and have interacted with Mac systems a handful of times.  I didn’t have the funds to pick up a Mac, which probably would’ve been my ideal choice for a new laptop, but for a computer I plan on using in class, taking notes on while reading or at archives, emailing, surfing the web, blogging, and other low-power tasks, the netbook is all I required.  I’ll post a review of the netbook later this week after I use it a bit more.

Filed under: Academia, Conferences, , ,

78 Terabyte Library

Wired:

Twenty three universities have agreed to share and combine their digitized content, including millions of scanned books and documents, in one gigantic, 78-terabyte library that launched Monday.

Called the HathiTrust, the depository contains digital content from 11 University of California libraries and a 12-university consortium that forms the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, which includes the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago.

Before the HathiTrust launched, digital content was isolated to each university library, according to John Wilkin, associate university librarian of the University of Michigan, who was named the executive director of HathiTrust.

“This effort combines the expertise and resources of some of the nation’s foremost research libraries and holds even greater promise as it seeks to grow beyond the initial partners,” Wilkin said in a press release.

[photo credit]

Filed under: Books, Libraries, ,

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.”

Filed under: News