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Tag: clioF11

Week 13: Scholarly Communication and Open Access Open Source

When I started my Masters program at the University of Edinburgh, I had an idea – an ideal – of what Grad School would be like. I envisioned intellectual conversations about history, art, theatre, literature, and science happening in the flat at dinner, over a cup of coffee, or a late night beer. I believed that to enter Graduate School was to enter a realm of scholarly discussion and inquiry.

The reality of my MSc was that, outside of class, these conversations happened only with a handful of people: a few fellow students, occasionally one who lived in my block of flats, and frequent conversations about culture and cultural differences with my friends, a computer programmer and a translator.

I wanted to open with the above not to complain but to point out the importance of scholarly communication. Most academics/scholars benefit from and crave conversation with other scholars, about the topics which we study and about intellectual subjects in general. One of my main activities on Twitter is following conversations about digital history and humanities.

Week 9: Digital Scholarship

The readings which most resonated with me were the reports from the 2007 Working Group on Evaluating Public History Scholarship and the 2007 essay by William G. Thomas III, “Writing A Digital History Journal Article from Scratch: An Account”. They are relevant not only to the course, but to my future as a historian (academic/public/digital), and I suspect I’ll reread these over the next few years.

Even if digital history isn’t implicitly public history, I think that the recommendations of the working group for evaluating public history work create a very helpful template for digital historians. The emphasis to community engagement is in particular is worthy of attention. One, because public history and publicly-accessible digital history works are a way of engaging with the community, and can especially help foster connections between a local group and the college/university, breaking down barriers which might otherwise exist. Secondly, because I think historians sometimes forget about the communities with which they could engage; if we keep that in mind as one of the assets of our work, it is harder to neglect those ties.

Week 4: Design, Standards, and Usability

I enjoyed reading the various essays from A List Apart regarding design and usability, but the piece for the week which most engaged me was the article by Elings and Weibel regarding shared metadata standards for museums, archives, and libraries.

My job at the historic house and what I am now doing with CHNM both came down to assigning keywords, metadata, to historic documents and (at the house) objects. One of my roles at the House was to propose, evaluate, and define new keywords for our relational database. As a result, I’m aware of the benefit of a controlled vocabulary, as well as the challenges which accompany it.

As I think about it, the challenges fit well with the readings about design and architecture of websites. Both situations force the builder or implementer to look at the audience, or audiences, they plan to serve, and how the audience(s) will interact with the data they provide.