Week 7: The Collaborative Web

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 Another type of debate visible in these articles is a debate over historical content.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”.


Introduction to Omeka: Creating Digital Collections and Exhibits

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.

Digital Collections, Copyright, and Intellectual Property

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).

Researching and Writing in the Digital Age

The web has impacted the way historians do research in the digital age in numerous ways. Turkle Kee, Roberts outlines seven which include: digitizing source materials to improve organization, accessibility, and the advantage of key word searches, uploading to the cloud to create backup and promote cooperation. Others include easily creating and managing citations, receiving notifications about updates about a subject, cooperation, sharing and minimizing time spent on less important components (Turkle Kee, Roberts). One way it changes the way in which historians think about sources is being able to access documents in more complete forms that are key word searchable which allows historians to make new connection through tracing their searches overtime in different publications (Jim Mussell). However, problems such as unexpected results and incomplete contextualization do occur (Jim Mussell).  Additionally sources accessed through the web are unable to replicate the experiences of engaging with original materials, particularly in handling them (Jim Mussell). Likewise, complications can arise from the technology and the limitations on interpretations (Jim Mussell). There are differences between using digital archives and traditional analog archives because although vast amounts of sources are digitalized copies of the sources they are considered secondary sources, that does not mean their material is compromised, but rather creates an additional context for them (Jim Mussell).

Week 2: Defining Digital History

The medium of the World Wide Web does not change the practice of doing history because as Turkel explains, historians are engaging with the technology as they would with analog resources, applying the same skills of inquiry, and interpretation and analysis (Turkel). This is changing the way that technology is utilized. As Cohen and Rosenzwieg point out, when creating a site, one would explore what already exists on the web which is something any historian should do (Cohen & Rosenzwieg). However, Turkel also notes that gathering the sources have changed. Rather than traveling to expensive archives, resources have been digitized and made available online (Turkel). The abundance of online sources does have some drawbacks according to Cohen and Rosenzwieg. Because so many sources can be found online, historians will need to spend more time shifting through the sources that could otherwise be spent writing. Cohen and Rosenzwieg also explain that the experiences are different than handling the originals which can provide additional insights besides what is written on them.

Week 1: Introduction

My name is Justin Edwards, I am a 23-year-old graduate student enrolled in the two-year public history program which I am in my second semester of. I have an excellent memory and I am able to retain and recall what I have read, heard, and learned. I have a visual impairment that requires me to use technology to enlarge small print that would be difficult to read without it. I have extensive experience in locating, accessing, and using online sources. I have also had experience with creating exhibits that incorporate technology. However, my experience with social media is more limited. Although I have had a Facebook account for a while I have only started to use it to stay up to date with Central Public history program. What I hope to get out of this course is a better of understanding of new tools and their applications to the field of traditional and Public History.