My Digital History Adventure

Over the course of this semester, I have been introduced to the many wonders of using the digital world to tell the stories of our distant (and not so distant) past. Thanks to people like Roy Rosenzweig, the digital humanities have become a field all their own. From blogs, to digital exhibits, to social media networking, historians have found ways to make digital platforms work for them. They can now do research more easily than ever before thanks to digitized archives, and can also share that research with a greater audience thanks to online publishing. While there is still something to be said for doing history the analog way, the digital realm should not be discredited simply because it is new. As I stated during a presentation at CCSU’s University Creative Achievement Day, “Contemporary students need contemporary resources.”

Each reading this semester has covered at least one of the above-mentioned topics in great detail. The ones I felt were most useful were the ones about topics I didn’t know much about. Going into this Digital History class I already knew that many historians used GIS maps to organize and share information on a topic, such a Doug Seefeldt’s map of the Lewis and Clark expedition. However, using podcasting as a new way of discussing history was one avenue I was excited to read about and see how different institutions used it.

The other major world I was turned on to was the world of digital exhibits. Those are the readings that I will take with me into the rest of my college education, as they will help me in creating my Capstone project. Doing a digital exhibit for a class is one thing, but creating one for a profession institution like CT Landmarks, I need to have all the background knowledge I possibly can on this type of project.

While most things for this class I enjoyed doing, such as the blogs and the digital exhibit, one thing this digital native has not gotten used to is digital note taking. Though many of my classmates use their computers to take notes all the time, I prefer the old school pen and paper method. However, to keep my notes clean and organized for use in following semesters (you never know when you’ll need your notes from U.S. 1), I will type them out and print them. Using the online platform EverNote for note taking became a challenge for me. I tried doing a couple of outlines for my World War 1 Omeka exhibit on the site, but since it wouldn’t let me write my notes the way I normally do in my notebook (the way Microsoft Word does), I eventually gave up with the site. I also didn’t like the fact that like most websites, it didn’t work on my work computer (it isn’t a flaw with the website, there are just weird blocks on my work computer), making it difficult to access materials I needed to be able to work on projects while I’m at work.

Overall there are a multitude of new skills I will be taking from this class to enhance my career in the future. Seeing the starting point of many of these ventures gives me hope that one day every historical resource will be digitized and accessible around the world, allowing those contemporary students to choose whatever topic for a paper or project they’d like, not simply get stuck with something just because they are the only materials they have access to.

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