Reflections on Digital History

I find technology intimidating sometimes so I decided to take this Digital History course to fill in some gaps in my tech knowledge and learn about methods that public historians can use in practice. The other day I realized how much I actually have learned in this class through the various assignments. What was so daunting at first doesn’t seem so scary now.

Scholarship on topics relating to technology ages extremely quickly and that was one tough thing about the readings this semester: a lot of them were outdated. The concepts were still relevant but I wish they could be updated to reflect the current technology. That being said, I enjoyed many of the readings because I was learning about something new and being exposed to various digital history concepts. I found Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig’s work Digital History: A Guide to Gathering Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web to be particularly helpful, especially the chapter on copyrights. I also enjoyed learning about the various digital tools that I can use as a public historian, such as podcasts, and social media. The readings on Wikipedia were informative as well. Understanding how the website was formed and how it works is really helpful. Knowing that most of the information is reliable makes it less frightening.

I really appreciated the various hands-on exercises that I had to complete including editing a Wikipedia page, exploring a digital history exhibit, listening to a podcast, and working on Citizen Archivist tasks for the National Archives. One thing that I find fascinating is GIS mapping. I liked the Digital Harlem exhibit and would love to create a map-based exhibit of my own. I’m a visual person and I love looking at maps so using them to situate history makes a lot of sense to me. I definitely plan on using the knowledge I’ve gained this semester by creating some kind of digital history project in the future because it’s an important method of connecting with an audience and public history is nothing without the public.

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