We will need to make dramatic changes to history undergraduate curriculums by aggressively implementing digital literacy programmes. This will benefit both our students and the historical profession.
Why? Let’s imagine how a future historian will tackle the question of what everyday life was in September 2011 – today. She will have a tremendous array of sources at her fingertips: the standard newspaper and media reports and oral interviews that we use today, but also a ton of added sources that would help give a sense of the flavour of daily life. Two hundred million tweets are sent every day. Hundreds of thousands of blog posts. Incredible arrays of commentary, YouTube videos, online comments, viewership and readership numbers will all hopefully be available to this historian.
But how will she read it all? Realistically, nobody is ever going to be able to get through all the tweets for even just one day: let alone categorize, analyze, and meaningfully interact with it. She’ll need to use digital tools. We are at a crossroads. This sort of history won’t be the be all and end all of future historical research, but I believe that somebody is going to do this sort of social history. Let’s make sure our future students are ready for it! Read more