Student’s Log: Final Entry

This will be my final entry for #hist5702x. We’ve come a long way in a short time, and I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished as a class. With just a few loose threads to tie up, it looks like our project — a 3D, augmented-reality, “in-flight” magazine — will indeed meet its deadline. (Phew.) Next Tuesday we’ll be presenting the project to individuals from the Canada Science and Technology Museums. Sean, Molly, Erin and David have been incredibly supportive and accommodating throughout this process, and I think we’re all feeling a little indebted to them for their encouragement.

These posts have been a great exercise in charting my own thinking throughout the semester. When I wrote my first post, I discussed my hopes and ambitions for #hist5702x. I didn’t see any immediate connections with my research, but I hoped “to challenge myself to think in different ways.” I wanted “to expose myself to the opportunities to be gained from doing public history in a digital world.”

Four months later, as I look back at those goals, I feel confident that this course has been a success for me. Digital history brings a certain ethos to its work that non-digital projects would do well to learn from. Crowd-sourcing. Collaboration. Remixing. Combining theory and practice. Making “process” public. Engaging non-academic audiences. Failing better. If such practices are often present in other disciplines, they seem especially integral to digital history.

Public historians need to appreciate the importance of digital work. Digital public history won’t replace the museum or the historic site, and it was never meant to. It “augments” the work of existing heritage institutions, directing their work in interesting new directions, exposing them to new audiences. In our own work, artifacts currently held in museum storage facilities due to spacial and conservation constraints have acquired new lives online. Far from detracting from the value of the physical artifact, such innovations challenge us to consider them in new ways.

These posts have been a valuable opportunity for reflection throughout #hist5702x, but they don’t come close to providing a complete panorama of the course. They don’t capture the crucial discussions we have in class each Tuesday. They don’t capture our countless invaluable office interactions, the support and consolation we’ve received when that model just won’t cooperate. We’ve bandied about ideas at the museum, in the archive, on Google Docs or our online course forum, through emails, over Twitter.

Unlike our blog posts, #hist5702x has been anything but an individual endeavour. It has been coloured by innumerable points of interaction. I am grateful to have worked with such a wonderful bunch of people. Thank you Alex, Allison, Amy, Danuta, Lina, Mallory, Sara and Tyler for making this a memorable semester for me. Thanks especially to a particular electric archaeologist for your patience and encouragement throughout it all.

Signing off,

Jesse / @jesseroberts0n