Prompt: Digital resources and production–what is the utility of digital tools (used in sources and research, presentation and communication, analysis, etc) and mediums (products) for historians? For other professionals?
Digital resources and production can be valuable resources for a variety of uses from research and analysis to presentation. Tools such as digital scanners like the ones we possess in the Digital Archiving Lab here at UMW help us to preserve books and ancient texts that may be too delicate to use in-person; scanning these texts and placing them in online archives helps to make these texts more accessible and readable. Additionally, these scanners and the file methods we are able to use with them can allow for a text-based scan that historians and other analysts can use to more easily, search, translate, and or run text analysis on the documents that would otherwise take much more time to perform manually with the original text. The ability to create websites through programs such as WordPress and to share resources through Google Docs, Email, and other sources, can help to promote the spread and sharing of information and online translation programs can even enable historians to communicate globally across some language barriers.
Other tools such as Timemapper or StoryMap JS can help historians to create visual aids through a combination of maps, timelines, and the addition of media such as music, video clips, and three-dimensional transitions. This kind of tool can be helpful to develop a better visual understanding of how things such as a war or a depression affected an area and took place as learners can take a more interactive approach to explore the information. The ability to develop websites and or games to convey information can also support the study and sharing of the knowledge of history. Many people learn by doing, so having an interactive website that may include some research-based games or simulations may help to better develop understanding and interest. Another cool concept is to take battlefield data and to compile that information into a three-dimensional format that could enable someone using VR to examine the battlefield from different angles and perspectives and to feel as if they are truly there.
Technology affords us countless ways to immerse people into the study of history and to make it feel alive. Particularly as a future teacher, I think some of the possible uses I described above should help students to better understand and be more interested in learning. The more interactive we can make history, both in schools and in sharing information with the general public, the more interest I think we can draw to the study of history and its importance. From a research standpoint, technology can continue to expand communication and access to historians as well as expand the possibilities of analysis that may have been more difficult such as running a program over several books from the same period to identify common diction of the time. Ultimately, technology, the avenues of which I most definitely have not fully covered in this post, has so much potential in expanding the field of history both in research and beyond.