Recent posts

Test Your Digital Humanities Knowledge

1 minute read

I met up with my French colleague Marin Dacos today while he was in the middle of giving an exam on digital publishing to his humanities master’s students. While many U.S. graduate students (and professors) would balk at such a “factual” exam, I suspect that they would have a very tough time getting through it unscathed.1 How would you or your students fare with a test like this? I’ve translated the questions into English. You have ninety minutes. Go! Basic questions and definitions (13 points) In Wikipedia, what do “Diff” and “Edit war” mean? Name the XML formats useful for electronic publishing and specify their particularities. How does PageRank work? What are the advantages of this system? What are its...

Zotero and Open Access

2 minute read

Before the excitement surrounding last month’s Open Access Week fades completely — too late — I thought it might be appropriate to describe how and where Zotero intersects with OA. When people talk about Open Access, they typically mean free access to published, usually scholarly, content. It’s a concept that’s ideologically easy for most researchers to get behind because few of us reap any direct financial benefit from the majority of our publications, and we’re all very familiar with the annoying frictions introduced by gating access to content. Championing Open Access is kind of like advocating not clubbing baby seals: you’re unlikely to encounter much opposition. Publishers, of course, are always the villains in this narrative. They seek unseemly profits...

Vietnamese War Dead

4 minute read

Today is Veterans Day in the United States, Remembrance (or “Poppy”) Day in Commonwealth nations, and le Jour du Souvenir in France. In Vietnam, it’s not celebrated at all, but that wasn’t always the case. Unlike the United States’ vaguely-defined Veterans’ Day, in the places where the holiday is elsewhere celebrated it remains rooted in the specificity of the Great War, even as those memories to be recalled have virtually receded beyond the limits of the human lifespan. In France and elsewhere in Europe it’s the dead in particular that are the focus of the day’s attention, and one need not visit in November to witness its significance in historical memory. Once they move beyond the famous Normandy sites, visitors...

Roy’s Campus Interview Advice

2 minute read

While I am squarely in the “don’t-go” camp when it comes to graduate study and the inevitable nightmarish job search, I also recognize that I am the extremely fortunate recipient of very good professional advice all along that rocky path. Roy Rosenzweig provided some of the best such wisdom, and few days go by at CHNM when we don’t try to channel his common-sense pragmatism. Roy drew on decades of experience in the machinations of department politics and hiring, and he knew exactly where job candidates should focus their energy. In the spirit of Roy’s intellectual generosity — and perhaps in the hope that you’ll be inspired to repay it in more tangible ways — I’d like to share a...

Adoption Of New Media By Historians

4 minute read

Zotero’s Google word cloud— id: 279 title: ‘Adoption of “New” Media by Historians’ date: 2010-10-28T21:49:52-04:00 layout: post guid: http://quintessenceofham.org/?p=279 permalink: /2010/10/28/adoption-of-new-media-by-historians/ topsy_short_url: http://is.gd/goyRA dsq_thread_id: “6300066554” categories: nerd tags: profession research salume Stockholm Syndrome technophobia Rob Townsend recently published some fascinating analysis of historians’ usage of digital content and tools. I think the overall takeaway message has to be unequivocally grim: historians are not, by any stretch of the imagination, actively engaging with new materials and methods. Before I dig into the study, let me say that any criticism which emerges is in no way directed at Townsend, who teases out a remarkable amount of valuable data from a group that comes across as not only reluctant to adopt technology but...