In our readings for today’s (now cancelled) class, several authors pointed to the fact that doing history “in the digital” increases ease of access to sources and reduces the “transaction costs that historians have traditionally faced.”
Put another way, digital history means that a
snow day freezing rain day doesn’t have to interfere with our discussion of the assigned readings! In fact, not having our face-to-face meeting today gives you a chance to try out your developing Twitter chops. I’ve posted several tweets to the
#ricedh hashtag that pose questions about the readings. All of them have to do with the balance of “cost” and “benefit” that historians have to weigh when digitizing sources like runaway slave ads.
- Based on the readings, what do you see as the major costs of digitizing sources? The major benefits?
- What would be gained by “marking up” the text of fugitive slave ads like we did for Homework #1? What would be lost?
- If pressed, how would you answer the question of what “digital history” is? A “method”? A “medium”? Something else?
With your extra free time today, please use Twitter to respond to at least one of these tweets, or tweet a question or comment of your own about the readings. If you need more space to answer the questions, you can also use the comment box on this blog post to write out your answer. This isn’t a full-blown essay assignment; just make the kinds of comments you normally would if we were having class face-to-face. And keep a look out on the blog for a post about Homework #2, which will still be due on Wednesday.
Beginning tomorrow, Friday the 24th, our class will meet in Rayzor 121 instead of in Duncan College. Please be sure to complete the readings for tomorrow before coming to class and be prepared to discuss them. As you read, you should think generally about these questions: What are the challenges confronting historians who wish to digitize primary sources or use sources that are already digitized? What are the potential benefits?
Yesterday in class we talked about JSON as one of the ways of representing structured data in digital form; tomorrow we will be talking about what kinds of data are contained in a runaway slave advertisement that a historian might want to represent. To prepare for this discussion, please take a look at the following sample ads before coming to class:
As you look at these ads, which all come from editions of a Houston newspaper called the Telegraph, please make note of things that surprise you. Also, are there any elements of a runaway ad that appear across all these examples? Do you notice any changes over time? Can all of these advertisements be classified as runaway ads? Be prepared to share your findings at the beginning of class tomorrow, or (if you choose) you can post your comments here.
Before coming to class on Wednesday, please be sure to go through the readings for January 15. We will be talking about two big questions in regard to these readings:
- Why would an archive of tweets be useful to historians?
- How does Twitter work "under the hood"?
You may also be interested to look more closely at some of the things I introduced in class yesterday, which can be found at the following links: