Evolving from digital opportunist to digitally inflected

On the eve of our final day of Doing Digital History 2016, I can characterize the past nine days with far more certainty than my next steps. I have been introduced to a rich menu of tools applicable to a variety of research and public engagement methodologies. I’ve also had the opportunity to get to know a cohort of mid-career (and thank you for the flexibility in that definition) historians who have been a delightful community of learners. We’ve shared our skepticism and enthusiasm as we wrapped our brains around r and Omeka, as we played around with rectifying maps and tagging images, and cheered on the Nationals.

Doing DH 2016 at the Nationals game.
Doing DH 2016 cohort at the Nationals game.
I am less confident in articulating the next steps after these heady two weeks. I have dozens of pages of notes to digest and an equal number of bookmarked sites and sources to explore. I also have links to or downloads of more than 20 specific technology tools to experiment with. I’ve always been a digital opportunist – casually using the tool at hand to do what needed to be done at the moment. But now I have a whole new sense of the digital humanities landscape and its possibilities.

So, what am I going to do next? I plan to continue to develop this site, and hopefully keep up the occasional blog. I also plan to develop a second site, http://www.californiamissionlandscape.com using Omeka to create teaching materials and lesson plans to accompany my book of the same title due out this winter. I will explore with colleagues how we can develop an online space to host digital community-based and collaborative projects. I also intend to experiment with some of these tools in my classes. Finally, I will use what I’ve learned these past two weeks to continue to lead the JustIndy project. I hope to apply not just the tools but the concepts and pedagogical issues we’ve discussed to develop JustIndy into a city-wide interactive exploration of the history and spaces of social inequalities.

In short, I leave these two weeks in Arlington grateful for the generosity and patience of those who led the seminar, inspired by the examples of the amazing digital humanities projects we’ve explored, invigorated by the intellectual curiosity and fascinating research of my companions on this journey, and excited to move forward into a digitally inflected teaching and research practice.

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