Saturday, December 27, 2008

More Connected by the Minute.

I came across yet another neat social networking tool that has the potential to be used in the academic world. FriendFeed allows you to connect to a variety of people, and condenses all the various multimedia tools people use into a single feed. It essentially creates individual user feeds which can contain almost anything. Some common items included are: blogs, twitter postings, amazon favorites, flickr accounts, facebook postings, youtube videos etc. Users can then subscribe to groups or other users based on their interests. So far the best way I can describe the site is to say that it is something like a glorified RRS feed with a community attatched to it.

In addition to the RRS feed type component of FriendFeed, the site is easily searchable, provides possible 'friend' recommendations, allows you to keep track of other sites which are not linked up to FriendFeed and lets users select their level of privacy. The site could easily be used by academic users who are attempting to keep on top of various times of media which is relevant to their work. My only qualm thus far is that because there is such a wide range of features on the site it does take a little bit of time to attempt to understand how everything works and connects.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Digital Scrapbooking Revisited

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about digital scrapbooking and the extent to which family scrapbooks are often used as valuable historical resources. I recently stumbled upon a site that bridges digital scrapbooking and physical scrapbooking. essentially lets users 'publish' their own books. The users have complete artistic freedom in their design and content, many have used the site to create family or wedding scrapbooks. In addition to letting users design their own books allows users the option to make their book public online, which then makes a good portion of their book available for preview digitally. The only downside that I can see so far about Blurb is the somewhat costly price of actually having the books printed. So once again maybe there is hope for those of us who aren't quite as artistically inclined to create physical scrapbooks of our family history.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights Debate

This Friday Stephen Harper will attend the ground breaking ceremony for the much debated Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) in Winnipeg. Initial estimates suggest that the museum will cost somewhere around the $265 million range. The construction costs are estimated at being the greater than the costs for the ROM or the War Museum, while operating costs are anticipated as being the lowest of all the national museums. The design for the museum is architecturally pretty amazing and the idea that a museum should be dedicated to the struggles of marginalized groups is fairly refreshing.

One of the main debates about the project has been the location of the museum The CMHR will be the only national museum located outside of Ottawa. Some of the arguments for having the CMHR in Winnipeg include: it is at the center of North America, Winnipeg has a unique civil rights history, and that Winnipeg has a diverse cultural community. The fact that the General Strike of 1919, Louis Riel, and Neillie McClung are all connected to Winnipeg is one of the many reasons Winnipeg was chosen.

That being said I'm still not entirely sure placing a national museum in Winnipeg was the best decision. The phrase "national museum" implies it is connected to the nation as a whole and is aimed at serving the entire nation. One of the nice things about having all the national museums located in Ottawa is that one trip allows people to experience all of them. Likewise there are numerous other incentives to visit Ottawa, such as seeing the Parliament buildings, which Winnipeg does not have.

However I do think this project is salvageable and has the potential to succeed. Providing proper incentives to visit Winnipeg are created and more importantly a digital version of the museum is at least partially available. A digital tour or digital exhibits would all more Canadians to experience this national museum, even if they cannot make the trek to Winnipeg.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tweedsmuir Histories.

Over the holidays I am once again volunteering at the Dufferin County Museum and Archives (DCMA). During the past week I was exposed to their collection of Tweedsmuir History Books. This is not the first time I have come across the Tweedsmuir collection, however I am once again amazed at what a great source of local history these books are. Put together by the local Women's Institute the books chronicle all major events that occurred in the region in a scrapbook fashion.

After spending sometime thinking about what a great source these books were I began to wish more of them were digitally accessible. At this point none of the DCMA's Tweedsmuir Books are digitized. However I did discover that Simcoe County (which is right next to Dufferin County) has digitized their collection of Tweedsmuir Books. The digitized copies are available free of charge online, and each book has a brief blurb highlighting the local names mentioned in it. The only downside being that a good portion of the Books are a bit blurry, they are still readable but I'm sure looking over them for hours might cause a pretty bad headache. Another little neat fact about Simcoe County's digitization project is that initially the all digitization of the local history was done by two students who were paid by a LibraryNet grant (hurray for student employment?!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How often should things be commemorated?

December 10, 2008 was the 60th anniversary of the UN's International Declaration of Human Rights. I had been hoping to write a blog about the digital commemoration of the event, however little to no media coverage or online commemoration of the anniversary was to be found. This struck me as particularly odd considering in honour of the 60th anniversary the UNESCO designated this past year as a year of commemoration.

The lack of available media brings me to the question, how often should things be commemorated? And who gets to decide how much effort will be put into a commemoration? Private organizations often pick major milestones such as 50, 75, or 100 years to commemorate their history. However who is in charge of celebrating ideas and abstract concepts. Something like the International Declaration of Human Rights has had an impact on numerous countries and people, so should each country have their own commemoration schedule? Should the UN be in charge of organizing uniform commemoration events?

Ethnic Browsers

A new version of Mozilla was recently released, the Blackbird browser is aimed at African Americans. It features a design, content and add-ons which are supposed to appeal to African Americans. The idea of a customized browser is nothing new, however as far as I know Blackbird is the first ethnic specific browser to be released to the public.

The browser contains a few unique features which are supposed to make finding relevant web content easier for African Americans. Blackbird includes a number of networking and social bookmarking tools, a charity content channel designed to connect users to African American focused organizations, and a search box which bases its results around the niche market of African Americans. Overall the Blackbird browser operates a lot like Firefox does after user customer customizations.

I get the idea of niche browsers and love the ability to customize Firefox with add-ons and personal features. However I'm not completely sure the idea of a ethnic browser sits well with me. Generalizations about what African Americans are interested in and their preferences are made by some of the Blackbird features. These generalizations have the potential to make information more readily accessible to users, however they are generalizations and don't apply to everyone. I'm not convinced that internet users should have a specific browser based on their race, age, gender, or anything else. It might be more useful to teach users about the wide range of add-ons available to personalize browsers.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Web Activism

Like many people I get a lot of my news updates via some form of online media. I recently read Michael Y. Dartnell book, Insurgency Online: Web Activism and Global Conflict[1], which highlighted the impact of the Internet on political views, activism and larger political movements. Prior to reading Dartnell's book I had considered some of the political implications of the Internet, but my thoughts were mainly focused on the accessibility of information, the ability of people to communicate and the ease of publishing political ideas online. Insurgency Online brought a whole other stream of questions about politics and the Internet to mind.

Dartnell suggests that the Internet has allowed for the development of web activism, which he claims is a new type of global conflict. Web activism is based on "producing, providing, and spreading information outside of government control or regulation." [2] Web activism allows for marginalized and radical political points of view to gain a medium. Insurgency Online focuses specifically on the use of the web by the Irish Republican Socialist Movement (IRSM), the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), and the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (MRTA). All three of these political groups have different political agendas, however each employ the web as a means of reshaping government prescribed perceptions. The IRSM has used the web to create coherence amongst people geographically separated, RAWA has used web activism to document gender abuse in an attempt to influence global views, and MRTA has used the Internet to relay information about its cause to mainstream media outlets [3].

After reading about all of these very political uses of the Internet I was left wondering if this was a good or a bad thing. It is clear that the web has the potential to be used, and at times manipulated, by political groups. The Internet can be used to illuminate the struggles of wrongly marginalized groups, however it can also be used to organize radicals and further radical political views. Regardless of the 'moral' implications of the use of the Internet by certain groups I do agree with Dartnell's assessment of it's impact. He maintains that web activism alone does not overthrow governments, rather "web activism is a powerful method for political organizations of all stripes in precise circumstances that favour their particular messages" [4]. The notion that web activism alone, cannot completely destroy a government is a reassuring idea and suggests that despite the range of the Internet there are still some practical limitations.

Despite considering myself fairly Internet savvy, I am still constantly being introduced to new implications and uses of the net. Web activism has further opened my eyes to how diverse the internet is and how it can be used in a multiplicity of ways.

[1]A preview of Darnell's book is available online via google books.
[2] Michael Y. Dartnell,
Insurgency Online: Web Activism and Global Conflict, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006), 6.
[3] Dartnell, 8-10.
[4] Dartnell, 101.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Virtual Dark Tourism

As some of my classmates have already mentioned in their blogs, a few weeks ago we spent part of a public history class discussing the idea of dark tourism and the way in which history is often the basis for it. Yesterday, an aspect of dark tourism that I had not previously even considered was brought to my attention. A digital aspect of dark tourism is already flourishing. I'm not merely talking about death notices available online, which though a valuable resource are not something I would consider dark tourism, I'm talking about virtual graveyards.

When I first heard of this concept I was more than a bit astonished, it never occurred to me that graveyards would be something that could be transferred into the digital world. However they existing in surprising abundance. One of the most prominent examples is the Virtual Graveyard. This site allows you to search a variety of graveyards to find whatever particular tombstone you are looking for, pick the weather conditions you wish to view the grave in, then you are 'walked' to the grave and given the option of leaving candles or other pieces of remembrance at the grave. Likewise, virtual memorials can easily be setup my loved ones and tailored to the particular religion and burial preferences of the family. After getting over the initial shock factor of the whole idea of an online graveyard the thought behind the virtual graveyard is kind of neat. It allows mourners and those just generally interested in tombstones (for historical reasons or otherwise) to pay their respects from a distance. This can be a valuable tool for someone who wants to honour a deceased friend but lives to far away to physically do so.

I am still kind of debating if digital graveyards fit into the realm of dark tourism or not. Even if they do not fit every aspect of what dark tourism is typically regarded as, they definitely do invoke an emotional response and after being curious enough to examine various grave sites I can attest to the curiosity that they inspire. Similarly, like most physical dark tourism sites there are subtle peripheral tourist aspects in the digital graveyards. In most cases visitors and mourners can purchase virtual flowers and candles to place at graves. Regardless of if digital graveyards actually fit the dark tourism mold or not, they do highlight the increasing movement toward digital memorials, digital communities and the digitization of everyday life.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dropbox sharing.

I came across a neat application the other day that is designed to make file sharing easier. The Dropbox application allows 'easy' sharing between computers and users, even if the computers are running different operating systems.

Essentially the program designates a folder on your computer as a dropbox, and copies the contents of that folder to a web-accessible account and to any other computers connected to that account. The option of having the files accessible online without accessing one of the computers connected to your dropbox is kind of neat, as it allows the accessibility of accessing your files from any computer in addition to those specified as part of your dropbox group. You also have the option of making your dropbox contents available to the public and completely open access.

If nothing else this application could make sharing files from a work computer to a home computer a bit easier. It also has the potential to be useful to those working on collaborative or group projects, and be a lot more efficient then constantly sending out mass group emails.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another one bites the dust....or is in the process of it.

I recently stumbled on a random facebook cause called Don't Let Newspapers Die. Apparently we aren't the only ones worried about technology replacing print. I was mainly surprised that there was over nine thousand members for something like this. The page has a little list as to why newspapers should be saved, its nice to see that the first reason is because "newspapers are a very important historic & public resource." However the fact the third reason is "newspapers are cool" makes me a little bit skeptical of the merit of having a facebook page to support print documents.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saved from the black hole.

Tomorrow is British Columbia's 150th anniversary. As part of the commemoration of this anniversary the Globe and Mail featured an article outlining the history that BC's founding. The article also made mention of a particular digital resource, who's history is somewhat amazing on its own. The site of mention is The Colonial Despatches, which is a digital archive based on the correspondence between British Columbia, Vancouver, and the British Colonial Office. It is a great digital resource, but that's not the main reason I was drawn to the site.

The evolution of the site highlights some of the common problems which occur when digitizing sources. The transcription and digitization process was started by James Hendrickson of the University of Victoria in the 1980s, however all of his work was done in a now obsolete computer language. Thankfully someone realized the importance of these files and has managed to recover them and restore them in an accessible format. The fact that these files were so close to be lost, suggests to me the vulnerability of digitalized files. We often think of print documents of being susceptible to destruction through age but digital files are as vulnerable. This whole article reinforced the preaching of open source software and accessibility that we keep hearing about in digital history class.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

There might be hope for my artistic side yet.

I openly admit that I'm kind of lacking in traditional artistic skills. I think my sister got that gene. She routinely makes homemade birthday cards and scrapbook albums as presents that blow my store bought cards out of the water. That's one of the reasons I was kind of excited by the idea of digital scrapbooking. After some examination of the resources available and some thought digital scrapbooking could easily be useful in other areas than just assisting the artistically challenged.

Digital scrapbooks can easily be applied to various historical projects. Detailed photo collections and traditional scrapbooks have long been a standard feature in archival collections. Digital scrapbooks offer many of the same advantages as the digitization of photographs. They are more accessible, potentially easier to preserve and reflect the increasing emphasis on technology in society. That being said they do of course have some of the same pit falls as photo digitization.

Digital scrapbooks also have the potential to be made into interesting history projects for students. I'm sure everyone at some point or another had to a project on the Vikings, Natives, or Jacques Cartier. From what I remember, these projects were in the early years a mass of construction paper, pictures, combined with some paragraphs of type. Considering the amount of photos, archival material and resources available online it seems ideal that this information be dealt with in the same medium in which it is available. It would also allow students from a change to explore the range of digital sources which they may not be exposed to otherwise. There is a ton of options for personal creativity and a variety of open source "freebie" software out there to help people get started.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

History in the Making.

Following the recent election of Barack Obama, The Smithsonian in conjunction with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, has taken steps to persevere items from Obama's campaign. The museum has suggested that it intends to recreate one of the field offices from the campaign in a future exhibit.

I think that this was a very proactive decision by the Smithsonian. The election of an African American president was both a monumental and historic event in the history of the United States. And the immediate decision by the Smithsonian to create an exhibit around this election suggests an understanding that history was indeed in the making during the Obama campaign. Not only does the immediate collection of potential artifacts suggest an understanding of the historical significance but it suggests a desire to represent the past in a truly authentic way. As the CBC story suggests, the Smithsonian has collected items such as whiteboards, strategy boards election maps etc. All of which could have been reproduced to some degree or perhaps collected after the fact, but the Smithsonian took the immediate initiative to collect all these seemingly insignificant items, which suggests a larger significance of the exhibit and the election itself.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance in the Media.

The Globe and Mail in the days leading up to Remembrance Day has included a feature called Dear Sweetheart: Letters Home from a Solider. The letters are from Canadian David K. Hazzard to his wife Audrey, he wrote over a 100 letters in total to her. The letters are very personal, emotional and serve to highlight the trials which numerous soldiers went through. Letters by Hazzard and other soldiers are a valuable way of examining the War and serve as a very emotional type of commemoration.

In addition to the Globe and Mail series, pretty much any media outlet you can think of has done some type of feature on Remembrance Day. History Television is currently airing a Week of Remembrance which focuses on various nationally defining battles and Canadian trials in the war. Similarly the CBC had both television and digital representations of Remembrance Day ceremonies and the CBC Digital Archives has a number of recommended videos on Canada Remembering.

With the amount of accessible information I hope everyone took at least a moment to think about the role which War has had in forging the history of our country and to remember the sacrifice of those who believed in something bigger than themselves.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Consumed by History.

Being a university student who is interested in the digital representations of history has its downfalls. One of the largest being that because there is such a wide range of digital information available online, hours can be spent looking up different historical topics and tools online. Since I have spent so much time looking at different history related digital items I thought I would share some of my favorites:

-The BBC podcast, In Our Time by Melvyn Bragg. This podcast covers everything from science, religion, philosophy, culture and traditional history. A lot of the podcasts focus on the history of a particular idea, person or concept and include guest speakers who are often experts on the topic.

-Making History by Vanessa Collingridge is another BBC podcast. This podcast focuses on the historical quires of listeners and the way in which history is perceived and constructed.

-CBC podcasts could consume my entire day if I let them. They have podcasts of their radio shows, the hour, various TV productions, and numerous regional based podcasts.

-The History section of features numerous podcasts which are historically focused. A good majority require the user to pay, however they do occasionally include include featured podcasts which are often free.

-Alan Cross ' podcast of The Ongoing History of New Music. Okay so this may not be traditional history. But it is definitely well researched and well worth a listen to anyone who is interested in the evolution of a particular band or music genre. As with over 500 episodes produced there is bound to be something that interests you.

Educational Resources:
CBC Digital Archive. The site has numerous video clips and interviews which are easily accessible and search-able. The site also includes an educational section which is designed for teachers, which includes a variety of multimedia learning activities such as "What was Oka About", "What was the October crisis?", "The World of Satellite Technology" etc.

-Canada's National History Society: The Beaver. Like CBC The Beaver's website has a section dedicated to the educational uses of history and includes lesson plans and resources for teaching history.

-Early Canadiana Online, is a digital library which features works published from the time of early settlers, up until 20th century Canada. Its a valuable resource as well as a good example of the use of digital technology to transmit historical information to an increasingly diverse audience.

-The Canadian Encyclopedia. This resource is both Canadian and informative. It also includes a youth Encyclopedia which provides public and high school friendly interpretations of historical events.

-You know those catchy history minutes that are shown on TV? Well they are available online at Historica Minutes Online. The site also features lesson plans based on the history minutes.

-Steve.Museum. A site which is based in applying social tagging principles to museum collections and is based in open software to allow people and institutions from a variety of backgrounds to participate.

-Digital History Online. This site is primarily focused on the history of the United States but includes a ton of resources for making learning interactive. The "For Teachers" section includes interactive modules, handouts and fact sheets, lesson plans and resource guides. Outside of the teacher section the site also includes a ton of digital resources such as maps, music clips, online exhibits, games and newspapers.

Digital Things (That aren't really history geared, but could be)
-Google Sketchup. I'm not quite as addicted as my classmate Meaghan. However I definitely agree with her assessment of the potential of sketchup for creating plans for collection displays and any type of physical project. A social bookmarking tool which is search-able, and if nothing else provides an interesting look at what the general public consider history.

-Google Books. Its raining outside and I have readings to do. Needless to say Google books often wins over trekking to the library.

This list is not nearly exhaustive and isn't close to being a complete list of everything history related I do online. But it does highlight a few of the digital things that I am intrigued by.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Finding Relevance

I have been attempting to legitimize my choice to pursue History (and now Public History) to others for quite sometime now. After enthralling but somewhat abstract class discussions I often find myself wondering if anything we are talking about has relevance to people outside the realm of history. I think this desire to feel relevant is in part why I was first drawn to Public History, as it seems to be more interactive with the public at large.

This weekend while reading the Globe and Mail I stumbled on an article that was essentially a rehashing of a topic which we keep returning to in digital history. In the article Can Hard Drives Replace Archives, Anthony Furey discusses the rise of digital technology and the concerns which many historians have over the way in which technology is changing the way in which history is written. Furey focuses his article mainly on the writing of historical biography, and suggests that email communication and other more informal electronic communication has the potential to greatly enhance a biography. I wish Furey had of mentioned other positive ways that technology can be used by historians in the classroom, in museums, academia and other institutions (as the possibilities seem nearly endless at this point). However the mere fact that this article appeared in the Globe and Mail was some what reassuring in itself. We aren't the only people who care about some of the stuff we are talking about in class and maybe History isn't as irrelevant as some people think after all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Technology in the most unexpected places

Throughout the election coverage CBC has featured a segment on digital technology called Ormiston Online, which was constantly monitoring people's responses to the election through electronic services. The CBC followed youtube videos, blogs, and a site called Twitter. The idea being that a lot of campaigning takes place online and that people can easily respond to election events via the Internet. I was originally surprised that CBC would venture into the realm of digital technology to gage public opinion, but they deserve credit for acknowledging the growing digital medium which most people depend upon.

Twitter is a service that attempts to keep people connected by having them answer one question--"What are you doing right now?" The majority of the promotional information on the site is based around connecting people with friends, family and anyone else who may want to know what you are doing at any point in the day. Twitter claims to let people be "hyper-connected" and that it "puts you in control and becomes a modern antidote to information overload." Initially I was baffled as to why this site would be useful for political study or have any type of academic substance.

However upon closer evaluation I can see some of the merits of the Twitter site. Like blogs you can set your twitter pages up in a RSS feed reader which adds to the convince of the process. Also Twitter provides a quick, immediate look at opinion which is useful when you are attempting to gain a general overview of popular opinion. I think that Twitter could even be used in an academic setting. For example if a group of students all subscribed to Twitter and followed each others entries, Twitter could be used as a way to highlight what progress was happening on a group project.

The more I am exposed to different types of digital technology and different methods of digital communication the more options I see available for academic and historical communities. Twitter, Blogger, forums, podcasts and various other types of technology allow for an increasing connectivity between people which has the potential to greatly aid academics who desire both an academic and a public audience for their work.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


I recently was exposed to [murmur] which is kind of oral history documentary project. Essentially the project collects and makes accessible personal stories about specific locations. The project is a neat combination of technology and traditional oral history. The murmur project exists in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Dublin, Edinburgh, Galway and San Jose . When a person is at a murmur location they can dial a number on their cell and begin to listen to various personal histories and memories associated with the location. Individuals also have the option of adding their own personal story about the location to the murmur archive. Additionally all the oral stories are avaliable on the [murmur] website for those who may not have the option of actually visiting the physical locations.

One of the things I found most appealing about this project is that a lot of the murmur locations are places that may not be considered overly historical, but still have personal and community histories attached to them. This demonstrates the extent to which history exists in the community at large and in places accessible to the large majority of people. Murmur seems like an engaging way to promote and collect local histories, while exploring the ways in which individuals interpret history and the world around them.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Flexibility of a Definition.

This past weekend I attended an Active History conference in Toronto. The conference focused largely on the variety of ways in which academic and community historians interact with the general public and attempt to employ history in ways which actively engage audiences.

I think one of the most significant ideas I took away from the conference was the notion of flexibility. I am beginning to think that for an understanding, appreciation and a career in Public History flexibility is essential. The Active History conference featured many presentations by traditional academic historians whose work had brought them out of the ivory tower into the realm of Public History. The conference also featured a number of presentations by people who may not be considered "true historians" by traditional academic standards. This juxtaposition of academic and community historians helped me expand my definition of what a historian is. A historian does not necessarily have to have spent a good portion of their life in the academy, rather they may be participating, learning and researching history from a grassroots level.

One of the most surprising aspects of the entire conference was the lack of conversation about the use of digital technology to enhance active participation. Digital technology was discussed by a few of the presenters but it did not receive its own panel or resonate as a general concern amongst participants. I understand that a lot of volunteer based organizations and underfunded historical projects may not have a great deal of money to fund some of the more complex digital technology avaliable. However, there is a number of open-source programs which could be used to enhance historical websites or even the technology used at specific facilities. Many of the presenters at the conference were very flexible in their outlooks and were creative in coming up with ideas of how to engage the public. Yet, many did not apply this creative thinking in a digital way, which would (in my mind) allow for an increased public engagement and accessibility of historical information. Perhaps it all comes down to a lack of knowledge about the digital resources which are avaliable to them and a lack of training in how to use technology in a historical setting.

Overall, I found the conference to be an insightful look into a variety of avenues of Public History which I had not given an immense amount of thought to prior to the conference. The conference also gave me a lot to think about regarding the ways in which the "profession" of public history can be both professional and very far from the traditional professional ideal.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Can Remembering be Overrated?

I recently finished reading Alec Wilkinson's article "Remember this? A Project to Record Everything We Do In Life." The idea that someone out there, namely Gordon Bell, is making a digital archive of his life is mind boggling. Digitization allows us to record and store things that we would have never been able to before. Most people purge their paper records at least every ten years ago, the average person simply does not have enough space to keep every grocery receipt or every scrap of paper they have ever written on.

The fact that Bell has managed to save so many "artifacts" from his life is a feat in itself. However I have to wonder if notion of quality over quantity has been forgotten. Historical records that have survived in archives or museums are typically ones that were deemed saving. Bell's method of digitizing everything removes the choice of what is valuable and what is not. I don't particularly care what he ate for breakfast or what colour of socks he wore on a particular day.

Also, the digitization or recording of all the minuscule details of life brings about another problem, the issue of personal privacy. What happens to Bell's archive once he dies? Will it be available for everyone to browse? The idea that the public at large could examine the smallest details of my life and essentially my daily memories is a frightening thought. Some phone conversations, emails, fashion choices, or life choices may be something that not everyone cares to remember.

Bell's personal archival project actually reminds me of the 1998 movie, The Truman Show in which Truman Burbank's daily life is being watched by millions of people and he doesn't even know it. The idea of a personal archive has the potential to put people in the same place Truman was in, a place where every movement is being watched and recorded and the everyone else seems to know more about your life than you do. I think digitization is a very valuable history tool, however I think there needs to be limits and consideration as to what is worthy of digitalizing.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Few First Impressions of Digital History....

After creating this blog over a week ago, I have finally got around to organizing my thoughts about digital history and blogging enough to take a stab at a post. The concept of digital history and the digitization of historical documents and artifacts is something I had never considered in great detail until recently.

This past year I began volunteering at the Dufferin County Museum and Archives, which is your typical local museum lacking in funding and reliant mostly upon the generosity of volunteers and the community. Yet, even in this small museum the digitization of history was beginning to become crucial to its existence. Many an hour has been spent at the DCMA, transferring paper records to computer files and now each new item is digitized and linked up to all existing items in the museum, using the Past Perfect Program. The fact that even small museums are seeing the value of digitization and the use of computers in dealing with history made me begin to consider the vast array of possibilities which technology can bring to the management, understanding, presentation and interpretation of history.

The idea of learning more about working with digital resources, the presentation of history on the web and the joining of computing and history in general seems essential to the changing historical field. And I am looking forward to learning more about digital history and all that it entails as the year progresses.