The Polyglot Manifesto…Part 3?

13 02 2008

I must admit, The Polyglot Manifesto, Parts 1 and 2, presented quite an interesting argument.  I think that the point that Manan Ahmed was trying to make in his two blogs speaks to the heart of the purpose of our class.  The truth is, if we historians want our work to remain relevant in a technology-obsessed world, we too must become technology obsessed.  We must make our archives accessible through digital collections; we must create on-line “exhibits” that present historical artifacts and materials in an interesting and engaging manner; and, we must have at least a basic knowledge of the process required to make the above two actions happen!  We need to be involved in the process in order to ensure that the end result is what we envisioned.  A curator cannot simply select the artifacts to be displayed in an exhibit and then walk away; they must be directly involved in the exhibit from the moment the idea is thought up, to the moment the exhibit is taken down.  Therefore, a historian should be just as invovled in the creation of an on-line project, as a curator is in a exhibit.  Like Manan Ahmed said, we must “not only speak past-ese and present-ese but also, future-ese.”

In addition to agreeing with Manan Ahmed’s manifesto, I also would the CSS tips and tricks listed in our other readings very helpful.  I think the List-O-Matic link would be good if I was starting out with a blank website, but I currently like my navigation bar as it is.  I have to admit, I haven’t played with my website much this week, although I did change some internal xhtml and css to float my picture on the right, although it didn’t change the overall look of the site at all.  I did it moreso to simplify my xhtml and css for if I need to edit it later.

Also, I commented on Jared’s blog this week, although it is still not showing up on his site as it is “awaiting moderation.” Scary.

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3 responses

13 02 2008
John Henry

This is a great comparison about a museum display and using the web/computer/new medium to display historical artifacts. One thing that has been bothering me is that putting everything on the web, and easily searchable makes all of us lazy. In other history classes I have found that people use Google or the computer to do their synthesis for them. In one discussion everyone was discussing the impact of the National Standards for History teachers and everyone had an opinion about what was wrong with them. They had gone on-line and read articles, looked at the web pages and saw the data as presented on the web and made their arguments from that information. I went to the Library and got the actual book of standards, as published. Looking at the actual artifact gave a completely different impression than what people felt was there by the web interpretation of those standards.

If someone translates a 12th Century Sanskrit document, puts it on the web and everyone uses that translation would that not be introducing bias and subjectivity of that particular translation. I think it is important that we as historians realize the ease of use of the web does not abrogate our responsibility to present, as much as possible, conflicting views on subjects. The web would allow us to present not only the translation but a facsimile of the original, so other people could translate, or make inferences about how the document was created. I think Ahmed was saying that we must remember to keep our fluency up in both languages/disciplines if the new medium is to fully realize its great potential.

13 02 2008
Jeff

I agree that it is incumbent upon historians to present conflicting views and for historians to engage in a dialogue on a subject, but, as we all know, one disadvantage of the web is that there’s a lot of crap out there that detracts from valid history. Look at Wikapedia. At least with print media, you know the sources, historian, and who is publishing the book. In short, print media lends validity to the historian and argument. I know, it’s the same old story about the web…too much information may not be a good thing….there’s no way to validate the sources, etc. At least good web design helps lend validity to a web site and its message. As one of our readings said, you can judge a book by its cover.

14 02 2008
Gayle Yiotis

It’s a little frightening to think that everything can be digitized and put on the web. Problem is, it can’t. Yet, I believe that many people think it can. Museums and archives are digitizing like crazy these days and maybe 500 years from now much of history will be somewhere stored in cyberspace. But it’s frightening because I believe that people may start feeling that books or primary materials are unnecessary and become careless with them. One thing you learn as an archivist (at least one thing I learned) was that you always preserve the original and tuck it safely away in a climate-controlled environment. No matter how many digital copies you may have–keep the original! Another problem is–WHO is choosing WHAT to digitize. Right there we have a bias creeping into the profession. I believe it’s obvious that a scholarly researcher will still go to the archives to seek out all possible material and certainly not depend on what’s on the web for his sources. Besides, since my 300GB external harddrive crashed and I lost tons of important stuff I have learned my lesson. What would happen if cyberspace crashed?

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