Historiography and Technology
In the translator's introduction to
A History of Civilizations
by the late eminent historian Fernand Braudel, it says:
[Braudel: ] "I bought this machine in Algiers: [then French Algeria - RF] it belonged to an American cameraman and was used to make rough images of scenes for films. On it you had a button that allowed you to take one photo at a time, or you pressed it and you took the whole shoot at once. When I was offered it, I said to the cameraman, 'Photograph me that: if I can read it, I'll buy it.' He made me a magnificent photo. And that's how I made kilometres of microfilms. It worked so well that when I was in Brazil I could spend whole days reading documents."
The challenge of the digital museum
Americans volunteer nearly one million hours a week of their time to museums... American museums receive more than 850 million visits a year, more than all professional sporting events and theme parks combined. [Surely the typical lack of a mandatory admission fee is a big reason for so many visits! - RF]
Digital technologies, now pervasive in homes, offices, and public spaces of every kind, pose another set of opportunities and challenges for history organizations. They afford history professionals and volunteers tools that can make collections, exhibitions, programs, and staffs accessible and interactive to degrees only dreamed of before... Remote visits to museums are ballooning...
Most young people today share with their elders a feeble understanding of American history. This situation is worsening... What young people do possess in abundance, however, is a native ease with the digital, virtual world around them. They seek to inform and entertain themselves almost entirely via the Internet, with its proliferating sources, images, sites, and self-anointed authorities. Whether and how history organizations continue to find and be found by young people is a pivotal question for the future.
- The Gift of History
by Dennis A. O'Toole
History News, vol. 65, no. 4 (Autumn 2010)
Postscript: Now that the origin of popular use of the Internet is fading into history itself, some readers may enjoy reviewing the genesis of an early online history library, the Historical Text Archive.
Another interesting essay on the early electronic publication of history here looks at the Gutenberg-e project, and mentions related efforts.