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: Based on what you have learned in this course, how do you think digital methods will change the practice and/or ideas of history specifically and research in general?  Give at least one specific example.

To regurgitate the question back as an answer, based on what I have learned in this course, I think that digital methods of preservation and documentation will change the practice and/or ideas of history specifically and research in general by A: speeding the process through mediation B: democratizing information and C: emphasizing new skill sets.  I will go through each of these separately and try to bring them together.

Through the use of Facebook, twitter, blogs, and the countless other applications that will undoubtedly be created in the near future, people have and will continue to see more rapid transfer of information than at any other time in our recorded history.  No longer do you have to wait for the town crier, the film reel, or the radio address to deliver the news of the world.  In any given instant ideas can be spread throughout the globe in just a few keystrokes.  Which leads to the democratization of information.

No longer is information held to the breast by specified  experts.  Each and every person who has access to the Internet can become a newscaster, a deliverer of revolutionary circumstance, and a prognosticator of potentialities.  In old Leninist terms, this is a turn toward primitive democracy in that experience matters less, knowledge only holds shared and use value, and everyone has an equal say.  While the process has still been retarded from full flourishing due to capitalist appropriation, the passion is springing forward in movements like open source.

As far as new skill sets, the need for a digital education has been fostered through the proliferation of technological gadgetry.  The youth has been spoon-fed  a steady diet of phones, televisions, gaming systems, iPads, iPhones, and the like.  This has created a whole new class of tech driven professionals whose job is to maintain the infrastructure that enables all these devices to function, and in order for these jobs to be filled there must be a systemic overhauling of the way we manufacture educational opportunities.  Of this I will leave only questions.

To put them all together, the digital medium of preservation and historical research has profound implications in the field and will have long lasting benefits for society as a whole.  People do and will see increasing abilities to express their situations, gather support, and harness the collective talents of their global village.  It will be faster, it will be more democratic, and it will involve skill sets undreamed of in times past.  It will be brave and new  and non-dystopian, if we can only get past this militarized state apparatus that seeks only destruction.


Research reflection

Reflections on research
To begin my research I endeavored a trip to the Industrial Museum where I was met with a plethora of devices, tools, and other products of industry.
The large number and seemingly random diffusion of such sent my mind reeling and without a definitive direction forward.
It was suggested by their attendants that I should contact Karen Hudkins, the museum director, for guidance.  I then proceeded to email the director with pleas for support of which she most gratefully responded in a detailed fashion.  There are a number of items, according to her email, that need further investigation, from a seat-belt manufactured by North & Judd circa 1950s to a Yankee Screw Driver that apparently “men love.”
I decided to take up the cause of the seat-belt in that I am a fan of government regulation when done well, for in the 1950s we still hadn’t decided to make seat-belts mandatory in cars.  The question that the director posed to me is why did North & Judd make this seat-belt latch?  Were they given an order?  Did they try to predict market movements?  What is this items story?
I next ventured another trip back to the museum to take a closer look and to visit the director with further inquiry as to where I could begin my search.  Upon arrival, the director showed me, allowed me to look within, a weathered notebook full of clippings from various newspapers, personal communications, and other sources related to North & Judd during the time period in question.
From here I came across a letter written by a wife of an executive about car accidents and how it will be good for their business, as well as advertisements, and various news articles related to seat-belts and the use of them, studies being done at the time making links to death and the need for auto-safety regulation as well as the life-saving benefits afforded by seat-belt usage.
From there I proceeded to do some Internet searches, some JSTOR enquiries, and some google-patent investigations, of which yielded SOME sources, mostly newspaper articles from Hartford Courant Historical but also some scholarly work on both theoretical law from the time period as well as safety studies being done.
What I next would like to find are possible links to work-orders, a copy of Judd & North’s catalogue from the 50s, and maybe some bill-of-sales.
I am going to try to both give a story of seat-belts in America as well as give the story of this Seat-belt buckle.

Philosophy topic

To be underneath, below, a downness, a not-yet graduate.
Epistemically a not of full blossoming, still becoming, growing still.
There is an amount of uncontrolled.
I am an under-graduate writing a philosophically “original” piece on a topic of “interest” for an academic publication.
What does it mean, this “originality”?
An original piece of thought, never before seen, a brand-new collection of thoughts and ideas given worded shape, form, and content.
But how can this be? Thousands of years of human stream-of-consciousness flowing from text-to-text, author-to-author, between us and about us, again and again. Paper after paper, text after text.  This idea of originality is, I feel, a false idea, and yet of utmost, of tantamount importance.
An important false idea.  How can it be both?
All of language both tells the truth and lies. As it has been said, (author stricken, censored, a headstone shorn of epitaph) “truth is only in the text.”
For in the text there is only a strange admixture of pre-text and letter arrangement, there is never an acceptable sense of mortality, of the finite, of not having been read.
Even as you move from word to word there is something left out, unworried, ephemerally discharged and unaccounted for.
This is an unassailable tension inherent to all communication, artistic endeavor, and scientific theory.
A scientist is a human with parents, possibly a lover, maybe with children, maybe barren, infertile, had their heart broken, inflicted with a form of paralysis, not being able to dance, to make love, green.
What do they know? Do they know what it is like to feel both wasted and renewed from physical exertion? Do they know what it is like not to know, but to want to know?  Is this from where love comes? In the wanting to and yet never acquiring?  Is this philosophy?
What can the future be, for me, just a lowly under-graduate, in such a field that craves such a craving, an unquenchable desire, to always be on the precipice?
For the future we can only be assured of the possible or the probable, but never the certain.  Is this not a form of certainty?  I am certain that I do not know for certain what the future holds.  Is this why big German philosophy has been unsurpassed in both refinery and repugnancy? Hegel and his “master/bondsman” dialectic, Kant and his shopkeeper imperative, Heidegger questioning technology, Benjamin and his angel of history. 
They seem now like some eerie reflection of a picture, seen through a mirror, projected onto a movie screen, with a 45 playing Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose” somewhere in a room not far off. 
Or like some phantom that persists, past the tenets of logic, and beyond the limits prescribed of the everyday, a tradition that survives unbounded capital, half-dead but writhing about, a still here amongst us, the elephant in the room, Karl Marx.
He knew something about philosophy, something that few will admit, the need to bring it out of the academy, make it fly, make it sing a song of long oppression, of hurt, of alienation.  There I see a reluctance and a trepidation among so many “official” philosophers. Why? History has its villains and its heroes from Hitler and Stalin down to, and yes I include him among the villains, Plato. But History is of necessity, the present and the future has no such predilections.  Be they afraid of dragons?

Week 8 post

Week 8 post
For this week we had to read “The Future of Preserving the Past” by Daniel Cohen, “Collecting History Online” by Cohen/Rosenzweig, “Preserving Digital History” by again Cohen/Rosenzweig, and “Google Books: What is not to Like” by Robert Townsend.
For “The Future Of…” Cohen is making the argument that while the vast expansion of historical record into new media has had it’s share of problems, such as a lack of access to technology and problems of good quality sources, overall it has improved the abilities of historians to do their work:  Search powers have increased, investigations have become more substantive, histories have been gathered at a cheaper cost, and submissions have become more democratic and encouraged.
The problem he sees, at least when it comes to preservation, is in the short-term loss of information when sites are shutdown after the grace period of 45 days.
I tend to agree with his arguments here, but I am not sure that the full depth of the argument for short-term preservation is of a greater concern over long-term preservation.  I get that you can’t have one without the other, but can’t both be addressed simultaneously?
In “Collecting History..” Cohen/Rosenzweig are making the argument that the net is a people’s medium full of good, bad, and ugly practices.  They go on to then give the reader tips on how best to collect histories:  Using already existing networks of hobbyists, using already existing and popular technologies, starting your own website, gaining contributors, and BUILDING TRUST.  
While I take these as useful tips, it would seem that only a select few would have the time and energy to actually contribute to these projects not to mention actually undertaking a project.  Most people have jobs, family, and crushing debt to worry about.
In “Preserving Digital History” Cohen/Rosenzweig are arguing about the fragility of digital materials.  They argue that while the ability to preserve has increased to take into account, almost,if not everything written, so has the need for the individual to act as a self-contained archivist: backing-up work, using good methods of documentation in the code of your site, using a plethora of technologies, and being a good steward to the material.
Again, I make the claim that in our current cosmology, that of a regime of scarcity fostered by capitalist ideology of fetishised commodification, it is nearly impossible to be as vigilant as they propose.
Lastly, in “Google Books…” Townsend is arguing that there is a wide gulf between what Google Books stated goal is an it’s execution of said goal.  He cites problems in citation, scanning quality, and issues involving the public domain.
I think his most salient point comes in the comment section where he makes the claim that the expectations for scholars are increasing while the resources are not.  Here I would take resource as a widely defined term to mean not just sources of information but time, money, and health as well.

Week 6 post

Week 6 post
For this week we had to read Cohen/Rosenzweig on Digital History as well as  three articles on Aaron Swartz.
In the chapter from Digital History, Cohen/Rosenzweig argue for a ” commons” approach to doing digital history as opposed to a ” market approach.” They argue that an ethic of sharing and of community allows for greater creative output in which the work of history becomes a collaborative communicative endeavor of many.  The multiple- brain approach.
They then go on to give a short history of copyright law in the U.S. Of which brought astonishment…I did not know that Noah Webster was so greedy.
Lastly, Cohen/Rosenzweig go on to explicate the contentious nature of copyright law and of how, currently, it is tipped toward the interests of corporate America, the mandate being that historians must join the debate.
I am in agreement with the major and minor premises of this argument, if the way forward is not toward open source and the public domain then the work of historians, globally, will become very difficult indeed.
In the articles about Swartz, I find that the government, as portrayed, holds a not negligible amount of responsibility in his death.  A deep pulsing black mark on the department of INjustice.