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.