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.

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