The most useful course reading from this semester that I found most interesting was Turkel’s Going Digital because his work demonstrates how the medium used to practice the discipline has changed while the skills of inquiry, interpretation and analysis will still be needed. I also enjoyed Cohen’s & Rosenzwieg’s Digital History because I found their discussion on how handling digital sources were a different experience than handling analog sources. As someone who tries to use digital sources as often as possible I had not really thought about those experiences as much. While I did not find them interesting, do understand and want to mention that all of the reading on the copyright when it comes to digital collections was useful because it explained a complex and confusing subject like copyright and explaining what you can do with sources that are not as clearly defined by the laws. I also had no idea that copyright only applied to materials prior to 1912.
My experience on the national archives and records administration citizen archive website was a very enjoyable one for several reasons Firstly because its catalog of Items is extensive and contains a variety of documents from different parts of the country that are less readily available in New England. Secondly because I thought it was well-organized, clear and easy to navigate. Thirdly because as someone who has transcribed documents this site and project makes it much easier to transcribe them online with the use of the technology to manipulate the digital copies in order to read them better and perhaps have more clarity in deciphering unfamiliarity in their vocabulary, spelling and writing which is helpful when you need a n accurate transcription.
My own digital persona is different than that of the bloggers and twitterstorians I have been following since the beginning of the semester in a couple of ways. Firstly, because I am not really a twitter user my digital persona is more limited in scope. Secondly, because I am so new to twitter I prefer to read comments, but not to add any or post anything. Online I present myself professionally for networking and I use it primarily to the latest news in the academic and public history communities. I would attract attention to my digital products by making sure they are easily searched with key world and persuade a small number of trusted people to like and share it with colleges. I can harness the power of web 2.0 o engage with an audience by posing questions and receiving feedback through suggestions which allows colleges and interested members of the public to contribute and perhaps develop a network based on shared authority.
The Virtual Jamestown project contributes to historical scholarship in several ways. One way is in its incorporation of the latest news regarding the site. As an outlet the site displays the latest historiographic/archival and archaeological research that has either been conducted or projects that are currently searching funding. Another contribution is its diversity of research topics that ranges from biographies of the settlers, their standard of living diet, correspondence, to those concerning the Native tribes, and Africans. Another contribution to scholarship is how the interpretation in scholarship of the site and various groups have changed over time. The site also incorporates the GSI technology in a 3D representation of a Native Village which allows scholars to visualize a space to better understand an analysis finding of the research in a context.
Podcasting can be used to extend a public history audience by not only making it accessible through radio or online, or by essentially bringing these topics and artifacts to people unable to physically travel to the institution, but also by emerging and building the podcast around participation through comments and questions such as the podcast George Washington’s Wallet by Colonial Williamsburg which does exactly that. The specific podcast’s topic is centered on the question of How did the colonists pay for things without standard currency? Another way in which a podcast can extend a public history audience is through creating and maintaining a balance between a topic in terms of a local community and a global basis, connecting an obscure topic with either a figure Such as Washington which would allow the Listeners to contextualize the topic with something familiar to them. Podcast also can extend a public history audience using a specific narrative such as the Smithsonian’s podcast History explore podcast: Underwater Archaeology which incorporates experts personal experience to help illustrate its narrative. Both podcast are structed in a way that allows more conversation between the host and a guest/expert rant than an authoritarian lecture. This conversational structure would extend a public history audience because it is a more natural dialogue that does not alienate it listeners in the way an authoritarian lecture with someone talking at you in way the perhaps you might not understand or had the patience or interest.
Some elements that I consider important for making a website attractive and functional include accessibility which allows scholars to utilize highly sensitive documents that may be fragile by nature, more easily to browse through and discover lesser known sources such as in the cases of Library of Congress and the University of Michigan’s Making of America digitalized archives. Likewise, it is just as important for websites to be easy to maneuver through weather using key world sources that enable greater depth in searches and more using friendly mechanics which are illustrated by numerous collection including the Franklin D. Roosevelt presidential library collection, the Thomas Jefferson Collection, and Jstore. These examples also demonstrate how important it is to be able to manipulate images and text on a website are. Allowing the ability to enlarge them fosters a greater ability to examine them. In addition, text that can be read with adaptive technologies allows for accessibility and maneuverability for those who have difficulty in using analog sources or maneuvering around on websites that do not allow for adaptive technology to help them. As far as images are concerned it is important to make sure that they are in a Jpet form for quicker download. Similarly, the incorporation of links is another major component that eases navigation like in the Atomic Veteran’s project.
The three Wikipedia articles that I looked at were the Spring Offensive, Major General Clearance Ransom Edwards, and the 26th infantry division. One type of debate of these articles regards the depth of the information. This can be seen in both articles on General Edwards which is criticized for not expanding the section on generals he served under, and the 26th infantry division which merely notes the division service in France in in a brief paragraph while focusing on its structure and its time between the two wars. While not so much a debate but rather more like a consensus: comments in the article on the Spring Offensive all agree and contribute to information about why the Germans stopped their offensive and began looting. Another type of debate visible in these articles is a debate over historical content. One specific example is in the spring offensive article where one unnamed commentator challenges the article’s explanation of the genesis of German stormtrooper tactics, and Ludendorff’s supposed sensitivity toward those tactics. Another example is the 26th Infantry division article’s allegedly linking two separate events which had not impact on either event like the reactivation of the 29th division and the deactivation of the 26th.A third debate deals more with the organization of the information specifically regarding descriptions of tactics and battle on other fronts in the Spring Offensive article which according to opinions are better suited in their own section. Likewise, a similar debate in the article on General Edwards contends that the opening paragraph needs to be better organized in its summary. Another debate also deals with correct translations of words such as “Feurwalze” is supposedly incorrectly translated as fire waltz when it should, according to a native German speaker, as “fire roller”.
Two examples of websites that use the Omeka software are Stark and Subtle Divisions: A Collaborative History of Segregation in Boston which contains archives of digitized sources regarding Boston’s history of de facto segregation, and the Hermoupois digital Heritage Management which maps out European building. Not only do the subject matters differ but also so do the items available. While the Stark and Subtle Divisions incorporate a wide range of materials that includes letters, photos, legal documents, artifact and interviews, whereas the Hermoupois digital Heritage Management site only shows an image of the buildings and a short caption. Its lack of resources means it has a more limited potential than that of the Stark and Subtle divisions archive. Both use different methods of displaying items in their archives. The Stark and Subtle divisions archive displays items in an easy to maneuver and search style that requires scrolling up and down, while presenting a tittle, type of source and other important information. The Hermoupois digital Heritage Management however employs a map with icons that you click on with an addition of selection through its numerical designation. While using a map does allow of a visual representation that can place a building within a wider context: it is complicated to navigate and has the potential to hit the wrong icon, whereas the Stark and Subtle Division’s is much clearer and more easily navigable.
While the materials for week four are not particularly interesting, they are crucial to produce professional scholarship. Cohen and Rowsenzwieg discuss copywrite laws, their protection for websites, images, music and the employment of free use (Cohen and Rowsenzwieg). Roy Rowsenzwieg’s question about whether or not scholarship should be free raises valuable concerns like the future of open access. While scholars publish their work in online academic journals which do have numerous benefits such as easier to locate, access, and utilize (Rowsenzwieg). However, by making the materials available to students and non-professionals who are not required to pay than what is the point for professionals to continue paying the subscription fees, which would intern lead to a financially unsustainable situation that the lead the journals unable to continue printing (Rowsenzwieg). Some approaches to increase access of scholarly materials by non-professions for free that are mentioned includes personal archives, repositories or self-archiving (Rowsenzwieg). Other options includes charging authors to publish rather than readers to access them delayed publication in hopes of enticing institutions to keep subscriptions and receive immediate access to important findings, partial publication which would cut down on the content, or eliminating the analog versions of the journals (Rowsenzwieg). Jennifer Howards discusses some fundamentals about a confusing topic such as who are copyright owners, and the use of free use and educational exemptions (Jenifer Howards). On the subject of free use, Jennifer R. Young explains that there is a lot of confusion about what you can use and how much can be used with the copyright laws which is based off of previous versions of the laws (Young).