Archive for the ‘data collection’ Tag

It’s Not Bad, It’s Different

I am one of the many that believes that the migration towards over-dependence on computers is terrible for society.  I further believe that the idea that humans are uploading their brains to the internet so that we are not burdened with unnecessary trivial knowledge is absurd.  However so much I believe that living a wholly digital existence is unpalatable for me, there are many advantages to the evolving digital scholarship.

In her blog post “Doing Digital Scholarship” Lisa Spiro examines several questions discussing digital scholarship.  A few of these questions look into what digital scholarship is, what it takes to produce digital scholarship, and the types of resources and tools included.  This article also discusses the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS)  Commission on Cyberinfrastructure’s report discussing five manifestations of digital scholarship including collection building, the tools necessary to collect analyze and produce intellectual products, as well as authoring tools.

As more and more digital resources become available, the necessity for a sound, encompassing, and open Cyberinfrastructure is increasingly necessary.   Many historians may scoff at this idea, but the truth is that most sources in the US today are “born digital.”  Although historians may have to utilize many different types of resources when constructing a display (digital or otherwise) or writing, we must realize that digital scholarship is not bad, it’s different.

Of course, with the new many new types of materials available (e.g. videos, websites, and emails), there is also a need for collecting and organizing this new data at an ever-increasing rate. Dan Cohen’s piece From Babel to Knowledge describes this necessity, laying out initial lessons in the realm of digital collections.  Basically Cohen is advocating for creating means of digital collection, relying on keeping many of these collections free and open, as well as collecting as much as possible, focusing on quantity over quality.

Of all the readings from this week, Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, was the most interesting.  This was probably due to the fact that this author had a much different approach to discussing digital media.  It was interesting to read about the freedom that the internet provides for finding a niche market.  Although the article discussed mostly entertainment media, the principles are obviously applicable to digital scholarship.

Anderson remarkably points out that aside from freedom of space restrictions overhead is greatly reduced.  So we can take scholarship that we are already doing in public history, make it more dynamic with integration of different and exciting types of data, occupy space for a fraction of the cost, tailor our product to a niche market, and reach more people.  Digital scholarship is not bad; it is just different from what people are used to. Just because historians engage in digital scholarship, does that mean that the essential core of history is changed?  I believe not.