Recent posts

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...

Evidence and Abundance

6 minute read

My colleague Mike O’Malley recently wrote an excellent blog post on rethinking historians’ use of evidence in the digital age. In an era where digitization and search tools have largely erased the evidentiary constraints that defined earlier scholarship, how should historical practices change? Mike argues that digital abundance has rendered obsolete the litany of superfluous evidence that historians often deploy to bolster their arguments. Just a few years ago, limitations of of time, evidence, and access drove historians to lard their work with as many examples as possible, a “parade” that “demonstrated the historian’s triumph over scarcity.” Mike suggests that in the future, a historian might spend more time describing her “information architecture” than stacking up evidence like so much...

Diderot as Digital Humanist

7 minute read

The following piece is loosely based on a talk I gave at the 2010 meeting of the American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies in Albuquerque, NM. Although the research and reference management software Zotero has garnered plenty of attention for its pithy taglines and millions of delighted users, less well-known is the mission statement that guides every last detail of the project’s development: To collect knowledge disseminated around the globe; to set forth its general system to those with whom we live, and transmit it to those who will come after us, so that the work of preceding centuries will not become useless to the centuries to come; and so that our offspring, becoming better instructed, will at the same time...

Teaching with Zotero Groups, or Eating My Own Dog Food, Part 1

3 minute read

This fall I, along with many others, will use Zotero groups in the classroom for the first time. With their unprecedented collaborative functionality, Zotero groups promise to transform the way that instructors and students interact with sources, particularly in research-intensive classes. Although the Zotero groups functionality is already well-established – there are currently over 3200 public and private groups active at zotero.org – over the course of the semester I fully expect to discover areas where we could add or improve features, and I also look forward to refining how best to integrate Zotero into what passes for my pedagogy. I’ll be teaching History 499: The French Revolution, an undergraduate senior seminar that serves as a capstone for history majors....

A Few More Dismissal Details

1 minute read

We’re still waiting for the court reporter’s transcript from last week’s dismissal of the lawsuit filed by Thomson Reuters targeting Zotero, but a few more details have surfaced regarding the nature of the ruling. Judge Gaylord L. Finch, Jr. dismissed the Thomson Reuters complaint due to a lack of jurisdiction. The dismissal was without prejudice, which means that the judge did not bar Thomson Reuters from refiling its lawsuit. Whether the corporation can or will refile is unknown (to me) at this point. While it does not appear that the judge dealt with much if any of the merits of Thomson Reuters’s complaint, the dismissal is significant for a couple of reasons. First, it would seem to require that Thomson...