Thursday, May 19, 2011

digital stuff geek out

Been getting excited about a whole range of digital tools and ideas recently. Here's a sample of some of my favorite recent finds:

1)The Parallel Archive. A project of the Open Society Archives at Central European University. It offers scholars and other a platform and site for uploading, organizing, and discussing archival documents. Its not meant as a primary repository for documents, but rather a site where folks can upload just specific documents or set of documents for use and discussion; this is the "parallel" aspect of the thing. As with many digital tools, i think its hard to see all the various uses that this kind of platform could have until it gets used more, but they suggest that, among other things, it could be used as a location where authors of scholarly articles could send readers of their work to see the documents upon which they are basing their analyses. Go check it out, here.

2)History Research Hacks. A blog by historian Shane Landrum. I met Shane at a Legal History Institute at the New-York Historical Society a few years ago; he's pretty rad, was (is?) working on a dissertation that will offer historical perspective to questions about identity documents and transgender lives. I'm excited about it. But this blog is where he discusses digital tools and whatnot, and its pretty useful. It just alerted me to the existence of Protovis, for instance, which seems to offer tools for representing data visually. Useful for us history-writing-types. Check out History Research Hacks here.

3)The National Security Archive's Unredacted Blog. Fighting for government transparency and accountability through FOIA and other Sunshine strategies. The NSA main website is here, Unredacted is here. And then there's its legal action relative, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. LOVE.

4)HERB, the American Social History Project's newest portal for historical primary documents. Named for Herbert Gutman, tagline, "Social History for Every Classroom. Teachers everywhere, take note. Here.

That's four that I <3333333. I'll prolly post more later.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

another reason to love Bill Cronon

You might have heard of the historian William Cronon in the aftermath of the Wisconsin protests this spring; he was the university professor whose emails were subjected to an FOIA request after he spoke out against the governor's plan to strip teachers of collective bargaining and other rights. (For more info on him, and this story, see here and here.)

But Cronon is also a hero of mine, and has been since grad school, for being a really superb historian who writes about the past in a complicated way through beautiful stories. He has, in fact, written about how important stories are for understanding the past, on several occasions. Anyhow, but that's not what I want to say right here right now. What I want to say is this: I just found the "teaching resources" on his website, including a comprehensive section about learning historical research, and i am very very excited about them. They are smart and useful. I think I might force my history teaching methods students to make use them in their work next semester.

That's all.

Oh, also, on a personal note, I fell asleep meditating this morning. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Gang of Four on History

I am having a renewed love affair with the Gang of Four. Wikipedia points out that the band combines punk/post-punk with "the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School of criticism." I mean come on. What's not to love? Also, they are poets of the highest order-- here, for instance, are the lyrics to "History's Bunk":

History's Bunk (1981)

what I’d like to hear: desert people’s history
not the styles of strategic combat
we could lose our bent we hear about
they weren’t the ones to get it in the neck
fighting it out for some other’s causes
they’re invisible they didn’t exist!
history’s bunk, our government
in the future will they make more junk?
what I’d like to hear: tales of people’s history
fighting it out for some other’s causes
they’re invisible they didn’t exist!
there are no lessons in the past
there are no lessons in the past
there are no lessons in the past
there are no lessons in the past
there are no lessons in the past
there are no lessons in the past

Saturday, April 23, 2011

James Bridle's Historiography of Wikipedia's Entry on the Iraq War

I mean, there's just so much going on, especially in the way of digital things and history, and its hard to keep up the postings! Thus I've sort of taken to just throwing things up here that I find intriguing for one reason or another without much comment.

Said habit will not be changing today. Just started reading Bridle's blog post about his somewhat getting-news-attention project, and can't stop to say much about it here but i want to note the existence of the thing. Its intriguing and smart, and its here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

civil war memory

We've been talking about popular memory and the Civil War in my History and the Politics of Memory class. Its a subject that I'm always surprised is always super gripping to my students. And reveals a lot about their ideas about the South, and about their historical training.

Because its a big anniversary of the war there's tons of news about reenactments and commemorations appearing thesedays. I just found a nice video on the subject of memory and the war, and thought I'd post it. Its here.