I’m very excited about a new project that I’ll be working on at the Center for History and New Media over the next few years: PressForward.
My piece of this larger project is a new digital history “journal” tentatively titled Global Perspectives on Digital History. With my colleagues Peter Haber and Jan Hodel, the long-time editors of Hist.net, we will begin to build a transnational digital history journal that examines developments in the field across multiple languages and, we hope, helps to build a global community of digital historians. At present, too much of the work being done by digital historians is locked away behind language barriers, and often behind national boundaries. For instance, how much do Americans really know about developments in digital history in Canada, the UK, Australia, or New Zealand, even though the vast majority of that work is created in English?
The more difficult challenge we face is what it means to publish a history journal that is truly multilingual. My colleagues in Switzerland and Canada have a leg up on this issue and our hope is to synthesize lessons from both countries (as well as programming cheats) to create a journal that is truly multilingual, i.e., where all the content is available across several (or many) languages. We’re going to press the boundaries of what machine translation can do for us to make this work. But we’re also going to have to think very carefully about what we learn from working in this multilingual environment rather than the more typical monolingual or less common bilingual environment.
We are only in the planning stages right now, but I can say that the framework we are considering sits somewhere between the algorithm driven Digital Humanities Now (also part of PressFoward) and the standard history journal where all the content is curated. We’re leaning more toward a hybrid of the two — some content solicited by the editors, some scraped from the Internet by an algorithm. Because community building is one of our goals, we’re also going to have to think through how we will allow/facilitate our readers to interact with the content.
At this writing, the slate is not blank. We have some ideas for where we are going. But we are also eager to get input from others interested in the project. Please chime in with any suggestions, ideas, caveats, or whatever that you think will help us move the project along.
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