Development of Digital History

The self-conscious understanding digital history has developed dramatically in the past few decades. One might still ask if digital history is simply the use of digital tools in the service of historical research—e.g., the use of digital archives, text mining, “distant reading,” etc.—or is it the use of those methods in the dissemination, or the medium,of historical research? Clearly there is no clear cut answer, and for ease sake, one might simply say both. Through our readings it seems clear that the answer has been different depending on when one asks it. We seem to be circling back around to a focus on methods rather than simply medium. I find this interesting since it returns us to the issue of cliometrics and other social scientific approaches that were more or less abandoned. Nevertheless, it seems folly to me that we not take full advantage of the methods that internet and computer technologies afford us, as long as we avoid some of the pitfalls of cliometrics. Digital history in its development seems to be providing us with a new variety of methods to approach our topic more than just new ways of presenting it or disseminating it. This seems far more exciting than simply providing an alternative to the monograph or the article, which may still be possible.

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