Monday, March 24, 2008
Come to the PNW History Conference!
Mary Schaff of the Washington State Library, Tamara Georgick of the Washington State Historical Society and I will offer a session on digital history at the 2008 Pacific Northwest History Conference in Corvallis April 17-19. Our chair is Dr. Charlie Mutschler of Eastern Washington University. This regional conference is always a pleasure, it has a homey family feel to it and the presentations are generally very good. Below is the proposal for our session, the complete conference schedule is here [PDF].
Digital History and the Pacific Northwest
Overview: History is not what it used to be. The internet and related digital technologies are changing the ways we study, write and share our history. At the same time, the very speed of technological change threatens to create a “digital divide” in the historical profession—not between those who have and those who have not, but rather between those who know about the new technologies and resources and those who know not. This panel proposes to introduce historians to the perils and promises of digital history. This panel has a natural progression from researching, to organizing, to developing online historical materials.
Presentation 1: Larry Cebula, Missouri Southern State University “A Northwest Historian’s Tour of the Internet”
Abstract: The explosion of digitization projects in the last five years has for the first time made it possible to do substantive primary-source historic research online. Organizations as diverse as the Washington State Digital Archives, the Library of Congress, Washington State University, and Google Books have placed literally millions of pages of primary source material online. This includes not only obscure printed material but tens of thousands of historic images, handwritten manuscripts, one-of-a-kind maps, and printed ephemera.
This wealth of digital sources makes it possible to duplicate much (but not all) of what used to be library research from anywhere in the world with a personal computer and an internet connection. It also permits new kinds of research through tools such as keyword searching that can uncover unsuspected connections, people, and documents that might have escaped earlier researchers. Finally, digital history is beginning to close the resource divide between students and scholars at older and well-funded research institutions with deep library stacks and strong archives and students of history at smaller schools or outside the academy entirely.
Cebula will take audience on a topical tour of some of the richest sites for Pacific Northwest history, demonstrating the research opportunities of new technologies. Many of the sites that Cebula will highlight may be seen on his blog: http://northwesthistory.blogspot.com/
Presentation 2: Mary Schaff, Washington State Library “Social Networking Tools in History Research”
Abstract: Online historical research has become easier, faster, and better than ever. But with the large quantity of information being made available on a daily basis, how do you organize your materials, share your findings with others, and publish your research in ways that will bring your work to diverse audiences? The new wave of social networking websites has the capacity to help you manage and synthesize your research, as well as make new professional connections in the wired world of Northwest history.
Writer and editor of the Washington State Library Public Services Blog, Schaff will discuss the change in focus behind the new social web, and guide the audience through some of the specific ways that historians have been making use of Web 2.0. Site explorations will include history blogs, map mashups like Platial and Picasa, history-themed wikis, citation organizer CiteULike, personal cataloging tool LibraryThing, and historic photographs on Flickr.
Presentation 3: Tamara Georgick, Washington State Historical Society The Digital Projects Avalanche: How to Cope One Snowball at a Time
Everyone has an idea for a project or bit of information that should be on the web. Multiply that by an entire agency full of people with good ideas and your staff can be easily overwhelmed. Its not enough just to have a proposal about the content of what you would like to present, its essential to have a plan for organizing the information digitally.
The focus of this discussion will be on presenting information, images, multimedia or any other type of web content in a database driven environment. Making choices up front about platforms, coding, software and standards will help any project achieve greater success. What questions should you ask? What options are available? How do we prioritize? How much will this cost? Whose code can I steal? Is open source right for this project? Are there grants or other funds available?
As Director of Information Technology for the Washington State Historical Society, Tamara is helping her agency make the transition from static pages to database driven web content. She’ll be sharing tips, checklists and stories to help others along the path.