Thinking about digital history

Interesting observations about digital history from Sherman Dorn, professor of education at the University of South Florida:

Presentation of historical scholarship as an argument presumes a finished product. But most time spent on historical scholarship is messy: rooting through Hollinger boxes, begging someone for an oral history interview, coughing through a shelf of city reports or directories, rereading notes, drafting manuscripts, sorting through critical comments, revising, and so forth. A published work does not materialize from a vacuum, and all that preceded and underlay it is legitimately part of historical work. Public presentations of history in the digital age reveal the extent of that “pre-argument” work, often in an explicitly demonstrative fashion or allowing an audience to work with evidence that is less directly accessible in a fixed, bound presentation. Digital history thus undresses the historical argument, showing that all our professional garments are clothing, even those not usually seen in public.

— Sherman Dorn


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