Introductory Post

Hi, my name is Rebecca I am a third year combined history and geography major focusing on geomatics and British/urban history. In essence, I spend a lot of time staring at an obscene amount of map layers hoping something that makes sense will eventually appear. This gif summarizes the entirety of my last semester.

map layers.gif

As well I can be found lamenting over the lack of material discussing seventeenth-century British widows. During the school year I am pretty involved in the Brock University Historical Society, mostly arranging the academic events for the club (ie. Latte Lectures and exam prep). I am also involved in the Brock Eco club where we try to arrange events focused on community change and sustainability. Over the summer I work for Niagara Parks Heritage as a historical tour guide, so I can tell you a lot about the history of daredevils at Niagara falls and I lead the occasional Ghost tour at Old Fort Erie. Besides all that I just watch a lot of Netflix. In the future I am hoping to go into further studies in historical GIS; whether it be college, a masters, or a PhD, I have no idea yet.

The introductory chapter on Digital History brought light to some pretty important applications and issues for the discipline. Particularly some of the “pros” for digital history that I noticed was the fact that digital history offers a more open platform to access a wide variety of data that historians have not had access to in previous decades. Digital history also offers several new ways to organize data; computer folders and websites are a lot easier to sort through than boxes of paper. Audio sources such as music or speeches can now be listened to by a researcher first hand instead of having to rely on accounts of witnesses that would introduce potential misinformation or bias. Visual sources such as maps can be viewed in detail and overlayed on modern maps to see differences in landscapes over time. These sources, when accessed through the internet, are also available to more than one person at a time which would allow people to go through their research at a much faster pace. Open communication between researchers and community members was also mentioned in the introduction, which offers new perspectives on the research being done and allows a wider audience to learn from it. One of the disadvantages to digital history mentioned in the introduction is the fact that internet search engines do not perform fact checks, and as a result misinformation can be taken as fact by many simply due to the fact that it showed up on the first page of Google, whereas credible sources can be buried beneath irrelevant information. There is also an excessive volume of information available through digital resources which may make it difficult for the researcher to sort through to find relevant information. Copy-write laws and companies that own the rights to journals also introduce difficulties to research since they can create accessibility issues; only those who can afford to pay the company can access the relevant information.

Overall I think that digital history is a growing new way to study the past that I am excited to be getting involved in. It has its advantages and disadvantages as does every other area of study. This new form of historical research opens up opportunities to study the past in perspectives never seen before.


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