Defining Digital History

With the advent of the internet, many aspects of society have changed and the practice of history is included. The widespread use of the World Wide Web has put a plethora of sources, interpretations and opinions about history online to be accessed by anyone. This large capacity for literature and the accessibility of it is different from earlier times when a historian would have to physically travel to an archive or library only to have their work read by a small group of people within the discipline. Internet tech like hyperlinks also augment historical sites by allowing for what Cohen and Rosenzwieg describe as nonlinear movement through narratives or data. By allowing users to travel as they please through the website they can learn at their own pace and come to conclusions in different ways. Though, the internet is an unregulated area where false histories and half-facts can confuse or misinform a user. Because of this, greater caution should be used while navigating digital histories.

The quantity of digital history over traditional history is clear, considering many traditional histories have been added to the collection of digital history, but the quality is up for debate. Where there is more, there will be a larger variety of good to bad. There is definitely more poorly written/false histories within digital history, but that should not diminish the overall quality of digital history. With its multitude of uses and different user experiences, it rests on the reader to distinguish whether something should be trusted as a source of information. While monographs usually have the an institution backing them, the internet should be navigated with a grain of salt for histories as anyone could be writing them.


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