Confessions of an impatient historian

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Presented at the Scholars' Lab, University of Virginia, 8 June 2011.

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Confessions of an impatient historian

  1. 1. Confessions of an impatient historianTim Sherratt (@wragge) NAA: A1200, L43305
  2. 2. In 1984...
  3. 3. In 1984...I was looking for secrets
  4. 4. CR ET P SETO NAA: A6457, P214 NAA: A 6455, RC597 Part 3
  5. 5. ‘As I hope you willunderstand, this delay isdue not so much tobureaucratic secretivenessor overdoses of red tape, asto a very real concern toprevent nuclear proliferationand to fulfil the UKscommitments under theNon-Proliferation Treaty.Some of those documentsmay contain details of thedesign of nuclear weapons.
  6. 6. In 2011...
  7. 7. In 2011...what has changed?
  8. 8. Some things are still slow...
  9. 9. But some things are very, very fast...22 million images!
  10. 10. ...and even faster with Zotero!
  11. 11. But its not just about speed...
  12. 12. Before
  13. 13. Before After
  14. 14. • item metadata (shock!)• print a whole file (wow!)• and...
  15. 15. Archives in 3D
  16. 16. Archives as youve never seen them before...
  17. 17. In 1984 • I was a client • I had to learn the rules • I had no choice
  18. 18. In 2011 • I can hack • I have the tools • I can change things
  19. 19. The rise of digitally enhancedthe impatient historian! NAA: J2879, QTH490
  20. 20. 3 wishes of an impatient historian • Let me play • Let me connect • Let me transform
  21. 21. Let me play NAA: A12111, 1/1955/22/86
  22. 22. Fred Gibbs‘...there can be great value in playing with historical data. Bythat I mean quickly searching, scanning, and visualizing datato see things that are otherwise impossible to notice. Of coursevisualizations are hardly new, even in history. But what is new,is our ability to take arbitrary data and see it from multipleperspectives with relatively little time, effort, and technicalwizardry. The discoveries that come about from such quick anddirty inquiries isnt meant to be revolutionary, but to raisequestions that wouldnt have emerged otherwise.http:// historyproef.org/blog/digital-humanities/playing-with-data/
  23. 23. But where are the playgrounds?
  24. 24. Search and find... but play? http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper
  25. 25. So whats an impatient historian to do?
  26. 26. Perhaps... harvest some data,
  27. 27. save in a handy format,
  28. 28. and play?
  29. 29. Take some snapshots...
  30. 30. Or better yet...
  31. 31. ...build something!
  32. 32. In the wild...http://library hack.org/2011/06/07/newserve-an-apps-entry/
  33. 33. Let me connect NAA: A11016, 736
  34. 34. Historians join stuff up.
  35. 35. Beware the silos of the LAMs.
  36. 36. Tim Hitchcock‘what really needs to break down is the silo that suggests thatinformation itself is something to be consulted and collected;that it is an unchanging object of study, rather than a pool ofconstantly changing stuff that can be interrogated from anyangle, and pursued along any trajectory.http://historyonics.blogspot.com/2011/04/towards-new-history-lab-for-digital.html
  37. 37. So whats an impatient historian to do?
  38. 38. Let me introduce myself...
  39. 39. http://nla.gov.au/nla.party-479364
  40. 40. http://nla.gov.au/nla.party-479364
  41. 41. http://wraggelabs.com/identities/person/612109/
  42. 42. http://wraggelabs.com/fmtc
  43. 43. http://www.flickr.com/photos/8623220@N02/4627034718
  44. 44. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain15002/ foaf:depicts http://nla.gov.au/nla.party-961082
  45. 45. But where do the links go?
  46. 46. Linked open data is easy • Give your things their own URL • Link your things to other things • Be nice to machines
  47. 47. Let me transform NAA: A1200, L22702
  48. 48. Amanda FrenchWhat I wonder is whether instead we can begin with thedata, or with a datum, and simply watch for what it may tellus, even if what it tells us is simply a story. What I hope isthat all our data will bring forth a new age of humanisticinduction, induction that can but need not necessarily relyon statistics and visualizations.http://www.scribd.com/doc/50066437/In-Praise-of-Humanities-Data
  49. 49. • White Australia• Thousands of forms• Thousands of people
  50. 50. Thousands of lives... Stories Pauline Ah Hee, 1906-c1950
  51. 51. So whats an impatient historian to do?
  52. 52. Imagine something new... http://invisibleaustralians.org/
  53. 53. Crossings & transformations imagesforms people data identities stories
  54. 54. More than a database...
  55. 55. Crossings & transformationsinstitutions individualsrepository researcherprovider consumer
  56. 56. A fourth wish...
  57. 57. Let me work with you NAA: C2829, 1
  58. 58. • Not just clients NAA: ST84/1, 1907/321-330
  59. 59. • More than crowds NAA: A1200, L57987
  60. 60. • Collaboration• Co-creation• Common ground
  61. 61. So whats an impatient historian to do?
  62. 62. Offer help... http://wraggelabs.com/emporium/
  63. 63. Start a conversation...http://trove.nla.gov.au/forum/forumdisplay.php?3-Digitised-newspapers-and-more
  64. 64. Give back...
  65. 65. In 1984...
  66. 66. A Political Inconvenience:Australian Scientists at the BritishAtomic Tests, 1952-3 http://discontents.com.au/words/articles/a-political-inconvenience
  67. 67. and in the archive...

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