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IHRDigHist, Jo Guldi, Paper Machines, IHR Digital History Seminar, Wednesday 7 October 2014

##Jo Guldi, Paper Machines, IHR Digital History Seminar, Wednesday 7 October 2014

Live notes, so an incomplete, partial record of what actually happened.

Tag: dhist


On Paper Machines, but linked in with the History Manifesto

  1. self-examination

  2. Convergence of publishing, project making, and tools

  3. Paper Machines - a provocation, an experiment with large information in the academy. Tool for hypothesis making on the long term.


What does self-examination have to do with DH?

We've made maps before. We've made key word searches before.

It has been a while since historians asked where their audience is right now.

We haven't yet asked the question of what DH does for the public

History Manifesto did not invent DH, it did not invent the history of the long term. Shift in time scale is underway.

We need deep history right now. Things are ripe for change right now.

We are ready for new models in publishing.

We are ready for new projects that work at scale. To shift disciplinary perspectives.

We are ready for new kinds of tools. There were pioneers beforehand. But there is a turn toward tool building. Matthew Connolly's Declassification Engine - what information cannot be circulated. History in the service of a massive public event. Financial metrics.

Tools that help the public overcome a problem of modern bureaucracy - too much paper to read!

What changes then for research and thinking when micro goes macro, history goes public, tools need to be multi-purpose.

Do we want digital projects that analyse art for arts sake? That recapitulate of old (non-public) research paradigms.

The archive is an impressive space full of paper. That filling of paper is just as interesting as the things written on them. And so it is not enough to write biographies of people, places, things. The nature of the archive is what is interesting, the varied roles in bringing the things that made it into the archive to life.

Questions drove the tool, but the tool must be usable beyond the question.

Hypothesis generation at the heart of it.

Most useful when faced with massive filling cabinets. Tools that allow us to facet the archive, select where we read narrowly - when in time I might want to read more.

[Tools are hypothesis generators, allowing you to read better. How is this changing the history you write, in particular the sort of history that influences sub-disciplinary colleagues]

Provocative visualisations that suggest what to read.

Theorists you would have read in the 80s/90s have moved online.

Disciplinary changes usually say 'you missed this because your method was wrong' - digital history can do the same, be bold about method.

Visualisations changed the impact of economics. And yes it can obfuscate. But it can be shared, memorised, get a simple point across.

###Next seminar

4 November, Web Archiving

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