After a hiatus for the holiday break, EdWired is back.
I spent last weekend in Philadelphia at the American Historical Association’s annual conference. Most of the time I was locked in a hotel room interviewing candidates for a European history position at GMU, but I did manage to get out long enough to chair a panel on GIS in history. This panel, organized by Carol Keller at San Antonio College, on GIS in the Humanities.
This was one of the most interesting panels I’ve attended at the AHA in years and to my mind points to one of the two most important emerging trends in the use of technology in historical research and teaching. If you take a minute to peruse the San Antonio College website, you’ll quickly see some of the many possible applications of GIS in history. The interface for their project is a little clunky, but they only had a small NEH grant to pay for it. Overlook the clunkiness and you’ll be able to imagine a number of ways GIS can be ported into your own research or teaching.
We have now begun using GIS in our collecting history projects–the September 11 Digital Archive and the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank. Using the Google API we now make it possible for visitors to these archives to geo-locate the stories, images, etc., that they find in these archives. Imagine what this would be like if, for instance, every image in the Library of Congress’s American Memory Project was similarly tagged?
On a sadder note (for me), only one of the nine candidates we interviewed at the AHA even asked about the work we are doing in digital history at GMU. This stands in contrast to the candidates for our search in US history–all of whom asked about it (or some I’m told). European historians have a long, long way to go when it comes to digital history as compared to our Americanist colleagues. Sigh…