I don’t want to presume to claim to know where the holes are in DH because my perception of “holes” may be more indicative of holes in my own awareness. I certainly found during this class that there are a lot more tools that do a lot more things out there on the web than I ever knew about. As a consequence of this class, I went out and found free software to write music, and more free software to record and mix it. I’ve used these tools to write a song about Black history in North America. It’s called “Cross the Water” and will be my performance in HIST5702W Performance and Narrativity.
But having admitted that I don’t know where the holes are, I will offer my own sense from the very little bit of reading that I’ve done so far in DH. My feeling is that, currently, DH is focused on three main types of activities: 1) publishing and crowd-source peer reviewing articles on a wide range of topics, 2) building quirky analytics that use digital technologies, and 3) talking ABOUT DH topics. Maybe that’s just what we’ve been reading and there’s a lot more out there that I don’t know about. However, I will also add that it was apparent in class that academics are using DH tools for other things, besides publishing, quirky things, and talking about DH. For example, we read about the people who used Augmented Reality (AR) to reconstruct a whale bone house, and the people who reconstructed a castle using AR. These two projects both strike me as historical projects that used technologies to achieve goals that were probably only achievable with the technologies, and not just quirky novelties.
Finally, I wanted to talk a bit about holes within the field of Public History. One place that I see holes lies in the degree to which “the field” (academia) can reach the public: not all the public is reachable. There is an entire community of people who aren’t digital – or aren’t very digital – too poor, too unconnected, too disinterested, too busy. So any statistical results gathered from the metadata will be slanted towards “the connected.” But as technology becomes cheaper and as wireless and cell connectivity becomes more ubiquitous, fewer people will be unable to connect, and more people will be able to afford to connect. The Canadian government is trying to legislate more competition among service providers, with some success, although it still has a ways to go. Canada still lags. In the Netherlands, in Delft, the whole city has wireless. If you’re a resident, you get on.