My fourth book (second sole-authored), History in the Age of Abundance? How the Web Will Transform Historical Resarch, is appearing in April 2019 with McGill-Queen’s University Press. It’s currently available for pre-order from McGill-Queen’s, Amazon, or resellers in other countries. You will also hopefully be able to find it in a library near you (if not, you can always ask ’em to buy it).
Believe it or not, the 1990s are history. As historians turn to study this period and beyond, they will encounter a historical record that is radically different from what has ever existed before. Old websites, social media, blogs, photographs, and videos are all part of the massive quantities of digital information that technologists, librarians, archivists, and organizations such as the Internet Archive have been collecting for the past three decades.
It would be “fantastic news,” wrote the New Leftist leader in 1962, if the nuclear-tipped Bomarc missiles – potentially housed in Canada– could be re-directed by the Soviet Union after launch to destroy their own bases. I read these documents in the McMaster University archives while writing an MA course paper in 2006 (which would later grow into my first book).
This nuclear-missile letter helped me to understand the context of the New Left, as well as the cultural divide that was manifesting itself between New Leftists and mainstream Canadian progressive politics.
What if that missile quip had been a tweet? A college student tweeting something like that today could quickly become the focus of an outrage campaign. But how could a historian make sense of something like that in the future?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this during the latest “dig-up-old-tweets-to-take-them-out-of-context” scandal, where The Verge’s (soon to be part of the New York Times editorial board) Sarah Jeong saw tweets from 2013 and 2014 used as part of an alt-right campaign to discredit her. I’m probably not the only person to have thought about the hidden treasures sitting in my own Twitter timeline, and wondered about how they might be misinterpreted by others – say, a historian in the future, using social media as a historical source.Read More »
The overall grant is valued at $248,451.00 USD, and here at the University of Waterloo we’ll be using $20,000 USD to support our efforts on the grant. In particular, this will help support a PhD Candidate and also some knowledge mobilization activities.
I can’t wait to see our grant vision be realized and to help assemble “a collection of educational resources, cyberinfrastructure for deploying tools to support the curriculum (including source code), and other related resources.”
I had the great pleasure to be a speaker at the Ethics and Archiving the Web conference at the New Museum in New York City. My own contribution to the conference was a piece on the “Ethics of Studying GeoCities.”
Hi everybody and thanks so much for coming to my talk today. What I want to do is discuss the “ethics of studying GeoCities,” which to me gets at both the potential but also the risks of doing a lot of this web archival research.Read More »
The first paragraph of our introduction sets the stage:
Lessons take significant effort to build and even more to maintain. Most academics do this work on their own, but leveraging a community approach can make educational resource development more sustainable, robust, and responsive. Treating lessons as a community resource to be updated, adapted, and improved incrementally can free up valuable time while increasing quality.
I was recently out at Simon Fraser University with Nick Ruest, where we ran a “Twitter and Web Analysis at Scale” workshop. We had a great and hardy band of students (including librarians, graduate students, and faculty) who braved the uncharacteristic snow atop Burnaby Mountain to learn about all things web archives and social media. My sincerest thanks again to SFU for being such amazing hosts, and for their fantastic “Data Love-In” programming.
My role in the workshop primarily focused on how to use web archives: I introduced students to the Wayback Machine (from doing searches in it to learning about temporal violations and provenance), WebRecorder.io, and of course, the Archives Unleashed Toolkit. We ended up taking data from WebRecorder.io and running analysis with it in AUT which worked for the most part. The workshop then concluded with work in Gephi.
As part of this, I made an interactive presentation: feel free to explore it, click on the many, many hyperlinks that are part of it, and you can learn a bit about web archives. I hope I get the opportunity to run this workshop a few more times: it’s always nice to have some dividends from the amount of work putting these things together can be.Read More »