Post 4 Ziyang Guo

The Voyant Tools is efficient to find patterns in large amount of texts, its shows frequency of words in matter of seconds. The result can be shown in a chart to be easily understand. However, I for one disagree it is a useful tool for historians analyze. First, computer language dose not understand or process human emotion, a sentence can be full of sadness, humor, sarcasm and anger that are also critical to the thesis statement. Theses emotions can make part of the article more important than the rest without showing keywords in high frequency. The only way to read the book with full understanding to the authors idea is doing it the old way, page by page, line by line. I doubt any useful insight can be made simply relying on Voyant tools, the only way thing I believe it will find is a style of writing, vocabulary preference, grammar preference. This can be useful for review purpose, such as newspaper editor, journalist, novelist and professors. The Voyant tool can show things they miss, or find problems they did not know. Such as the over focus on none central topic, the unbalanced of sections. These are the benefit that Voyant tools bring us, it still cannot read a book for us, but it’s a great assistance to us, we can have a rough idea of what the book is about in a very short time, we can then decide if this book is useful or related to our research. This new approach can save us tremendous time, especially for primary source that are hundred to thousand page long, with no abstract or blurry abstract, this tool will be a highly efficient short cut. Technology such as Voyant tool is start to show what technology can do for historians, its possible that in the soon future, computer program can summarize a whole book in second, analyze its references in second, or even question the weakness of the thesis statement. There are much more to expect.


Post 3 Ziyang Guo

The online HGIS project I found is about my home town Beijing, this interactive map shows how Beijing was the greatest walled capital city anywhere in the world. Due to modern development of the city, the old defense purpose city walls are holding back the economy of the city. These walls were taken down, replaced by highway and business center. As these walls still live in the memories of the earlier generations, resident and visitor today can only see a tiny trace of theses old gates and walls that no longer exist.

This HGIS project gathered old Beijing map, simplified it to a strait forward digital map that most people can understand. They create icon of the old gate and placed them accordingly on to the old map. Each of these icons also serve as link that leads viewer to the gallery of photos describing this specific gate from different time. The collection of photos is massive even for each gate, they are taking the online viewer through a virtual tour in the old Beijing city. The completeness and structural design of this map makes it the most efficient way to study the old Beijing walls and gates. It will save time for researcher, on locating the position, identifying its appearance, and understanding its geographical characteristic. If I must say a way its poorly done, then it will be the lack of info, there are so many critical information that could be add on to it. For example, the size different of structure, the component different of the building, the reason and time it got destroyed, more importantly how these locations look like today.

The disappearance of the old Beijing city is a big lost to the modern world, but within this modern world we can see how convenience and powerful that digital mapping can be to help us see what has changed.


Post 2 Ziyang Guo

The online history archives from this week shows in various ways the digital history is already in our life.  The first website shows massive letter by Darwin that was extremely hard to find. Considering before modern technology, it will be extremely difficult for any historian to get their hands on archive like this. Letters no doubt are vulnerable in time, the ink will fade, the paper will become thin, and a small accident could easily ruin everything. Yet this website here shows us how easy it can be for everyone to access these archives, anywhere, anytime. Furthermore, a essay accessible database like this not only increase the efficiency of historian but also invite others to study history as a hobby.


The second video provides a search engine to anyone’s family history, to find all the footprint left by someone’s ancestor. This service has not yet been free and might not be completely efficient for family living in developed countries by generations. Still it is better than nothing, even just for fun, you can find information highly related to the past of your family in matter of minute. You don’t have to travel across cities to follow or verify a lead. All you need is a computer.


The third website was similar to the first one but set for more functions. It is basically a big digital library that serve professors and researchers. The fact it has more user and more resource every day shows people are accepting the new platform of history. The only downside I can see for our next generation, is the lack of effort in searching data. It is like using online dictionary over traditional dictionary. The word you look for are instantly showed, instead of narrowing it down letter by letter, page by page on a book. It may seem efficient in the short term, but the knowledge will be easily forgotten after using it.

Intro blog

My name is Ziyang Guo, I live in Toronto. I transferred to brock last year, right now I am in general humanity major. I will graduate after the winter semester, I am still not entirely sure if I should start working or spent another year for a higher degree. Before university I spent 2 year in George Brown College to archive a college degree for business marketing.

Outside of school I had many part time jobs, first at a gift shop, now in a hotpot restaurant for 2 years. My part time job experience really improved my communication skills, as well as time management skills.

I like history specially WW 1 and WW2, I am also a tech geek. So, when I see digital history I am really excited to find out the content in it.

After reading the introduction, I have more understanding of what is coming from this this book. I believe the theory and fact I will learn from this book will be extremely different than any course reading I had before.  The reason is the perspective of combing digital technology with history study. The promise of digital history it that internet connects more researcher, they can now easily share their own discovery or theory to the outside world with much larger audience. Today, to confirm a detail in a historical event we only need to search it on line, instead of spending hours going through old books. In addition, digital means access it anytime, anywhere. The government and university can scan their valuable collection of history books in to digital form, available on the internet for everyone to access without the chance of accidently damaging the book. On the other hand, perils exist in many ways as well. Due to nature of internet, anyone can make their own website about history knowledge, it is impossible to identify the authenticity of every single author. Student or beginner may easily run in to fake fiction story made out of different historical event, or information that contains strong political view from the author himself. The internet is a gigantic search engine that shows tone of useless or slightly related information, it takes experience for the user to distinguish useful information and non-credit source article.

In my opinion, digital history is the way of our future. Just like ancient people used to draw and carve in cave and on rock, bones. Then there was the invention of paper. Today digital world is going change the way we record our history once again. We will never lose those ancient books from the damage of time or fire, it can be stored forever and access any where.  MDH