Posts Tagged ‘history’

American Social History Online

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

If any of you lose the blue paperclip, here’s the link to American Social History Online.  We welcome partnerships with you and your institution.   If you are interested in contributing a collection of 19th and/or 20th century digital primary resources (MODS only, please), or would like to collaborate in other ways, please contact us.

Challenges to Historical Visualization: the Need for an Event Standard

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Hello, THATCampers! Jeremy and I have been thinking about doing something on the genres and challenges of historical visualization in the digital realm.  We’d like to take a catholic view of visualization, considering everything from simple timelines to rich visual reconstructions such as Rome Reborn.  The former have gotten a pretty bad rap over the years, but as historians, we personally tend to be just as skeptical of the latter.  We’ll tell you why at Camp 😉

One of the things we’d like to discuss in particular is what we see as one of the primary roadblocks facing quality historical visalizations of all kinds: the fact that there aren’t any good or widely accepted standards for describing and marking up historical events. Digital historians have managed to do a lot with maps and documents, places and artifacts, because there are good and well established metadata standards for describing these units of historical analysis (e.g. longitude, latitude, KML, MARC, OAI, etc.)  But we don’t have anything comparable for marking up happenings, which are at least as important as place and stuff to historical discourse.  There are, however, several contenders, including HEML, Microformats (hCard, hCalendar, Geo), and iCal, and we’d like to bounce these around to see if any stand out or can be made/hacked to do the job. At the very least, we’d like to start a conversation and encourage smart people to start thinking about just what a useful event standard would look like.

We were thinking Tom might introduce the session with some thoughts on historical visualizations in general and on timelines (and their persistent audience popularity) in particular.  Jeremy could then introduce the more specific (i.e. meaty/practical/useful) topic of event standards and demonstrate a proof-of-concept for implementing various Microformats for creating maps, timelines, and other visualizations with ads from the Virginia Runaway Slave database. To round out the session it would be great if we could find a couple campers with more experience working in Second Life, gaming, or 3-D reconstruction to join us to share their thoughts on the role (or lack thereof) of time-centered and other standards in more immersive visualizations. Finally, we’re totally open to suggestions from campers who would like to take the session in another direction altogether. Jump on board!

Tom and Jeremy

Playing History: Video Games and the Humanities

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

As we get closer to the camp I thought I would test the waters and see if any of the THATCampers are interested in pulling together a games in the humanities session.

At CHNM Dave and I are in the early stages of planning and developing a collaborative directory for freely available history games and interactives. In my experience, finding serious/educational games on the web is a haphazard and disorganized business. There is no systematic way to search across the content. There are currently thousands of free educational games available online in individual content silos. Broadcasting entities like PBS, BBC, and the History Channel, and subsidiary programs like NOVA, each develop a variety of games associated with their programming, but these are often buried in the very complex sitemaps of their large websites. Similarly, independent educational game developers like Persuasive Games, provide access only to their own offerings. These individual repositories limit the ability of teachers looking for game content related to a specific topic. For history teachers faced with ever increasing burdens on their time it takes far too long to research each of these sites individually. Further, without any means for user feedback, the widely varying quality of these games ensures that web searches return a random mismatch of high and low quality games divorced from their potential classroom use.

Beyond this, if we get funding, we plan to have some historians and history teachers review a subset of these games, with the historians focusing on the historicity of the games and pointing to primary sources that teachers might present to students to read with or against the games argument and the teachers focusing on how the game could fit into the classroom setting.

This brings me to one of the things I would like to pick other campers brains about. What kinds of criteria should these types of games be reviewed against? There are models for reviewing commercial games (Things like this review in game informer), models for reviewing historical works (Like scholarly book reviews), and designed based research offers ideas for assessing curricular activities. This leads to a very practical question for us, what sort of rubric/guidelines and interface do we provide for reviewing games in our project. I do, however, think it is of broader concern as well. What kinds of value do games bring to humanities teaching and scholarship and on what criteria do we evaluate the success of a given game and interactive in the humanities?

Beyond direct responses to my issues anyone interested in games and the humanities please post comments with your thoughts and ideas for discussions/sessions at THATCamp.