Reflection

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I would like to use this final post for reflection on the wider issues around digital history. Throughout the paper, we have covered concepts on time, narratives, authourship, preservation, digital modes and their reliability, design and accessibility. Rosenweigs book has provided excellent insights into the positive and negative impacts digital technologies have had on history. The readings as part of the course have also examined ways in which technology can become intertwined with objects.

There have been many sites that have demonstrated excellent digital archive collections.  Most of these reside with the major libraries and museums around the world.  When these kinds of institutions have archives, it gives the records much more credibility and reliability i believe for most people.  There are others that appear less official, like Internet Archive.org.  Here is a link to a digitised book from 1460.  The University of Canterbury is creating a digital archive of earthquake stories related to the Christchurch earthquake.  Our own government is looking to archive their collections to ensure material is available for future generations, see here.

Looking back on all this information, it is easy to see the complexity of this issue. Arguments for both positive and negatives are very valid and real. However, I do believe that the positives outweigh the negatives. Having accessibility has increased knowledge worldwide.  When we have questions, we are able to find answers almost immediately.  This is because the information is available online.  My stance on this was very confused in the beginning, and now i believe it is great.  My confusion about the subject has decreased as i began to understood the positives (accessibility, durability, capacity, diversity, manipulability, interactivity and hypertextuality) better.  These positives mean more people can access and interact with information and records, that still keeps the original texts safe from wear or getting lost.  I also understand the negatives (quality, durability, readability, passivity and inaccessibility) much better and can now see a source and tell the difference between a good one and bad.  I understand that the nature of web documents is so much more dynamic and requires constant updating and review.  The web in general is a dynamic place – making things on the web living documents that need regular review.  This process can be quite expensive.  For this reason, i don’t think private contributors can make a truly effective archive.  Institutions and government funded archives are better suited for this.

Overall, i am really happy i took this paper and feel much more aware of what is out there digitally and confident that i recognise quality archive sources.

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Our digital history project

I wanted to share the experiences i have had while working on our digital history project entitled, Shall we dance?

Given the brief of the topic, our topic knew we had to choose something that was relevant to Hamilton and something that could relate to everyone.  We chose dance mainly because it was the key event that covered a wide range of other topics, like relationships, moral values, fashion, music, social culture to name a few.  I came across a reading titled Ethnography: Anthropology, Narrative and New Media that had so many relative ideas to this topic.  This created a link between celebration of social culture and the use of digital/new media.  It stated that “ethnography is both process and product; and culture itself is more than being or thinking; it is also a matter of feeling and sensory engagement.”  When thinking about a topic that seeks to give the community a voice, you need to think about more than facts, records and figures.  Creators need to transfer the emotions and feelings of participants.  This makes the topic perfect to incorporate digital media.

We also felt that when we digitise the oral histories, photographs, images and clothing images, it enhances accessibility, allowing more people to engage with it.  This also allows for a smoother transition between museum and digital archiving on Hamilton library website.  Oral histories are becoming more easier to do with the advances in camera and microphone  technologies, making it affordable – allowing historians to gather interviews independently without the need for a pricey camera man.  One website that has tons of info on how to perform these are DigitalOmnium.

This project gave me the opportunity to really think how digital media can enhance historical research.  The background topics we have covered allowed me to think about the impacts of technology on the information, making me cautious about establishing a balance between physical and virtual objects.  I also realised that i do like digital storytelling because it promotes a democratised form of history.  I have had other history papers where it is normally asked what majority of people actually thought about things, and the reply is often, ‘well, we can never know for sure.’  Yet, today, when people want to do something about social culture and peoples experiences, we wonder how it is relevant to the ‘bigger picture’.  Well, its all a matter of interpretation and values i suppose.  But everything covered in the past post as well has played a part on my understanding of digital histories.