Introduction to Cass: Blog Post #1 “Promises & Perils”

Hello! My name is Cassandra Schultz. While Markham Ontario is my home, Brock’s  Concurrent Education Child and Youth Studies Primary/Junior program brings me to St. Catharines for my second year. I have a burning passion for teaching and empowering young minds. My core as an educator is ground in Special Education and the cognitive powers of individuals with exceptionalities. Alongside my education, I am currently a don in Earp Residence here at Brock University.

Outside of the classroom I enjoy a healthy active lifestyle (stemming from my years of competitive softball in my childhood). I find my most authentic self is when I am immersed in natural environments. I also have a niche for the liberal arts particularly pertaining to Musical Theatre and Stage Production

I have never been much of a traveller despite my love for adventure. I feel studying history provides me with a parallel to the travelling aspect of my life I am lacking. For me, history is travelling; it is exploring time and space not occupied by current reality. The digital world has provided future historians with exponentially growing archives and a limitless capacity (every tweet is a mark of history equivalent to an archival scroll of imprinted parchment). I find it truly fascinating to study the trends of change from stone tablet to android tablet; from cave paintings to this very blog post. The birth of the internet has drastically changed how we experience our world and how we interact with others. 

Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rozenweig do a remarkable job introducing digital history to historical novices like myself. Clearly and articulately, all cards are put on the table as this text explores the promises (positives) and perils (negatives) of digital history. With both cases well supported, cyber-enthusiasts share their promises in seven qualities (capacity, accessibility, flexibility, diversity, manipulability, interactivity, and hypertextuality) while techno-skeptics share their perils which are categorized as five digital dangers and history hazards (quality, durability, readability, passivity, and inaccessibility).

Capacity as relates to digital history looks at the limitless potential for storage of archives and data. Tying into this is the global accessibility to resources made available to all through digital development. Media also has the ability to be presented in a multitude of mediums. Its flexibility means it can be experienced through combinations of texts, sounds, and images. The opportunity for anyone to share content opens up wide ranges of historical diversity; lessening the effects of biased tunnel vision or singular Western viewpoints. The power of technology allows for historical evidence to be manipulated, explored and analyzed in ways beyond human ability. Following closely with flexibility, the multitude of digital mediums allows data to be more interactive than ever before. The final promise of digital media looks at the multifaceted capabilities of hypertextualities that allow data to be transferred with little to no limits on its direction. 

A primary peril of digital media is the quality of such archives and data may compromise historical authenticity. Durability of digital data has also been a fear for many as it has negative effects on the ability to preserve records. Coding and other forms of cryptic messaging of digital data also makes readability a challenge. Techno-skeptics argue that digital media is not more interactive but rather more passive as information is simply provided rather than sought for. Lastly, contrary to its promise, there is an element of inaccessibility to be weary about as digital access is a status privilege and not available to a large majority of the world. 

Onwards and upwards fellow future digital historians.

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