Author Archives: Trevor Owens

Four Flavors of Digital History

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Given out discussion at THATcamp I thought it might be useful to start this off with a run down of genres of digital history. When someone asks me what digital history is my answer generally will involve reference to these four distinct kinds of things.

  1. Computational analysis and interpretation of historical sources: Everything from Word Clouds to Topic Modeling. This includes both cliometrics and those who swear by the screwmeneutical imperative.
  2. Collecting and/or preserving born-digital primary sources:From disk images of hardrives, to archived webpages. This includes but is not limited to photos on flickr, presidential emails, lolcats, the stuxnet virus, sensor-net data, the source code of ninja gaiden 2, the interface of instagram, yelp reviews of the Statue of Liberty & an assortment of punch cards from the 1890s & the plug board of an enigma machine.
  3. Digital modes for presenting, organizing, and distributing historical interpretation: From building software to support historical research, These might include presenting historical games and simulations as publications or creating software for exhibiting cultural heritage collections on the web, creating digital exhibitions to communicate historical analysis.
  4. Code: Digital History often requires code to scape web pages, clean texts, transform CSV files and perform various other sundry tasks, on both large and small scales. Have you written something you’d like others to use? Or found some hidden python scripts at GitHub? Post them here!