Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Digital History Year in Review

In August, AOL released some of their search data for more than half a million users. Among other things, it gives us some idea of what people are looking for when they search for history. Dan Cohen continued to underline the importance of APIs for the humanities.

Google digitized millions of Books, leading Gregory Crane and others to wonder what you can do with a million books. The Open Content Alliance had same plan, different vision.

Cyberspace, home of Collective Intelligence and Convergence Culture? Or just a stupid and boring hive mind? Either way, I think it has interesting implications for pedagogy.

Digital history: graduate seminars (1, 2, 3) and a bunch of new bloggers.

Google Earth added historical maps.

Josh Greenberg decided to leave his blog Epistemographer fallow, with good results. Meanwhile, Tom Schienfeldt highlighted the "unintentional, unconventional and amateur" in Found History. Emma Tonkin argued that Folksonomies are just plain-text tagging under a new name.

Niall Ferguson wrote about historical gaming and simulation in New York magazine; Esther MacCallum-Stewart (Break of Day in the Trenches) and Gavin Robinson (Investigations of a Dog) extended the discussion in interesting new directions. At the end of the year, I was musing about alternate reality games.

Sheila Brennan began an ongoing survey of online History museums at Relaxing on the Trail.

I is for Information Aesthetics.

(Just realized why this kind of thing can be tiresome.)

Keyword in context (KWIC) is easy to implement, but Jeffrey Garrett argued that it doesn't really fit with the way humanists think.

Brian Hayes discussed the search for the one, true programming Language in American Scientist. It's LISP.

Dan Cohen noted that Machines are often the audience these days. He also wrote about data mining, provided an example in his blog, and warned that we shouldn't allow available tools to guide our inquiry. I spent much of the year developing tools to mine the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and other online repositories.

In September, Google released N-gram data to researchers. I argued that it could be put to use in digital history, and might help to change our notions of plagiarism.

O is for old. Just when you thought it was the new new, it turned out to be weird weird.

Manan Ahmed penned a Polyglot Manifesto in two parts. I switched from Perl to Python.

Q is for the <q> element, of course. Paula Petrik guided historians through the ins and outs of (X)HTML and CSS at HistoryTalk.

Choudhury and colleagues demonstrated a new tool for document recognition.

Exactly one year ago, in my first substantive post to this blog I suggested that historians be taught to search, spider and scrape. I still think it's necessary. Re: searching, Dan Cohen discussed the appeal of the single box, and Phil Bradley wrote about the past and future of search engines.

Tags: Mills Kelly thought they could be used to subvert the archive. TEI: Keith Alexander talked about authoring directly in it. Timeline: the SIMILE group released a "DHTML-based AJAXy widget."

Alan MacEachern started a series called "the Academic Alphabet" in University Affairs: "A is for admissions," "B is for books," and so on. Although he occasionally talks about digital history, he won't get to U until 2008. Good luck, buddy.

Tim Burke wrote about the history of virtual worlds in Easily Distracted.

W is for Wikipedia. Roy Rosenzweig wrote about whether history can be open source; Joseph Reagle blogged about his dissertation project on Wikipedia; Mills Kelly thought up classroom assignments; John Jordan discussed national variants. The New Yorker and Atlantic ran stories, too.

I discovered the joys of XAMPP when I set up the new digital history server at Western. Jeff Barry wrote a similarly positive review at Endless Hybrids.

Yahoo! Term Extraction, a handy way to find keywords in content.

And finally, in September I got my first look at the cool new Zotero. Expect it to play a big role in digital history next year.