Blog #1: Introduction & “Promises and Perils”

Hi,

My name is Sierra MacIsaac. I’m a third year psychology student here at Brock, and although I am nearing the end of my program…I am still in the process of deciding which direction to take once I have completed my degree. Since I have some interest in history I tend to take various history courses as my electives, which is what brought me to Digital History and becoming a digital historian. Although I attend school at Brock, the majority of my life is based out of the city of Hamilton. Where I typically spend my free time either around friends or going to the barn to ride my horse. I’m also a member of the Wellington-Waterloo Hunt club, which is a blast! All members and guests gather weekly with their horses to enjoy the wind in our hair as we travel trough diverse terrain and gallop along the beautiful countryside.

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In the introduction to Digital History, the authors Daniel Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig present various, yet, contrasting views towards our highly advancing technological future. Those who are in favour of change and a different future were deemed cyber-enthusiasts as they support the “promises” for digital history. However, for those opposed to a digital history, were known as techno-skeptics. Throughout the introduction, we are also presented with the “perils” of a digital history.

The authours outlined seven of the “promises” cyber-enthusiasts share regarding a digital history. They believed in better accessibility, allowing you to easily access to obtain desired information. As well as capacity, which allows you to take all this new found information and store it in one small place. And flexibility, allowing you to present the information through various forms of media. Diversity, giving more people the opportunity to research and share their findings with the world. Also manipulability was a huge positive, as users could go back and view things that they could have missed in earlier research. Additionally, interactivity adds a two-way feature allowing for better communication rather than the basic one-way style. Finally, hypertextuality allows for information to be transferred more easily through the use of different text.

Additionally, the authors also outlined the various “perils” of a digital history. Historians worry that the quality and readability of their historical research/ data may be compromised. Another fear is the durability of these digital records and whether they can be accurately preserved and for how long. Passivity has also been a factor, as many historians believe that the information is provided to the user as opposed to them searching for it. However, that being said, there is also an inaccessibility issue as access for various digital sites are restricted to the average person.

In my opinion, I believe that both sides bring up strong arguments. Although, as a  student I couldn’t imagine a world where there isn’t a highly specialized system used for researching, storing, and retrieving information from the comfort of our own homes. The digital world provides us with so much more than we could ever imagine, readily at our fingertips. Even though we may stumble upon information that is untrue, we must be educated users and decipher what true and what is false.

As the year continues, I am excited to learn more about digital history and develop better skills in understanding and navigating the digital world!

 

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