Well, my first effort at moving forward with a blog just didn’t get anywhere. I guess I could blame the rigors of full-time graduate studies for the lack of postings in about three months. Yet, at the same time, it was because of graduate studies that I developed an interest in the potential of blogs. So, back to why I started this blog…
My interest in developing a blog with a focus on digital history stemmed from the lack of “digital integration” in the different history courses that I have taken over the past few years. However, it was more of an after-thought than a concern at the time when I was taking the classes. After having graduated with a M.A. in History from Old Dominion University, I really didn’t give the practice of digital history a single thought. Then, when I took a semester of courses in doctoral studies in history at the College of William & Mary, I didn’t think much about it either. Granted, we did take a look at Dr. Edward L. Ayers’ The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War,
but more emphasis was placed on reading the book, In the Presence of Mine Enemies. Even when I applied to a second masters program, in Technical and Scientific Communication at James Madison University, the thought was not so much on digital history, but only came about as a result of a project in which I was tasked with creating an annotated bibliography about some aspect of technical communication.
Coming from the field of history already, I figured digital history would ease the transition into technical communication, and it did. Not only that, but because of the project, I began focusing a good deal of my work in the program on the potential of digital history. Despite my growing interest in digital history, it continues to amaze me how many academics continue to resist the practice. Why is there so much resistance against something so full of potential? What about the many expanded possibilities offered through the use of hypertext? For the most part, I do believe that Ayers was correct when he stated that “historians need to understand the new media and its implications as fully as possible, for both defensive and hopeful reasons. We need to resist the dilution and distortion of historical knowledge brought by the erosion of our authority in a widely dispersed new medium” (Ayers 8). I could cite a number of sources that discuss how the practice of digital history threatens “authority,” however, the purpose of this blog is to focus, not so much on why resistance exists, but on the potential of digital history. How, for example, do those who can appreciate the potential view the art of digital narrative, immersion and like philosophies? Having read Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving and Presenting the Past on the Web (Dan Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig), and George Landow’s Hypertext 3.0, I’m ready to present some thoughts on this blog, and hopefully, engage in exchanges with fellow historians as to the potential of the Web. I’d also like to go beyond theoretical discussion and look at how theory has translated into effective practice – something that I am actually involved in as I am developing this blog.