More than just "Digital History” – Lessons in Digital Humanities

MORE THAN JUST “DIGITAL HISTORY” 

Lessons in Digital Humanities

In her January 20th Blog post on the The Junto, Sara Georgini interviewed Dr. Jeffrey W. McClurken, Professor of History and American Studies & Special Assistant to the Provost for Teaching, Technology, and Innovation at University of Mary Washington about his experience working with a producing digital history.
The insight provided by Dr. McClurken impacts not only digital history projects, but provides knowledge relevant to the growing group of digital humanitarians out there who are trying to preserve digital culture.
The incorporation of digital media to provide further and new ways of presenting, interacting, and drawing conclusions from data are important points to consider. As publishers and producers of media gain increasing amounts of access and reliance on the digital domain to explain their ideas, they need to consider how best to prepare and use data in new platforms.
Corollary to data importance is the ability to best harness all the great features and interconnectivity that the digital platform brings. Eventually publishers and content creators may come to the point where it will be inconceivable for any publishing project to not either incorporate or be tailored for digital consumption, but for now we are all struggling to harmonize the oftentimes disparate analog and digital publishing processes.

If the website is just an add-on for footnotes, then it’s not really a digital project. If it’s an e-book, then maybe it’s a digital project, maybe not. But if digital content is critical to someone accessing that work of scholarship, then, yes, it’s a digital project.
— Dr. Jeffrey W. McClurken

This interview reflects a current trend in academia towards digital preservation. New processes are much more collaborative than ever. Early digital adopters are opening up and sharing lessons learned in digital humanities, content curation, and data versioning protocols. Corollary to data importance is the ability to best harness all the great features and interconnectivity that the digital platform brings.  Digital Humanitarians are collaborating at the speed of text, and creating better tools for this each day. Georgini’s interview brings up some key points to consider when beginning a digital humanities project:

  • How do you give credit in collaborative projects that don’t have just one ‘creator’, as this impacts hiring and tenure?
  • How do you archive digital projects that change over time? How do you manage versions?
  • How do you choose the right audience for your project?

Overall, digital humanities is benefitting from years of practice in big data and database design, but we have a lot more to learn.


Read her full article here