Updates and Readings for April 10th

For the James Farmer Lectures, I am currently still working on the trailer. I am having some difficulty with getting technology to cooperate with me, but hope to be mostly done by the end of the week. Mt goal is to have a working draft of the video up by the end of this weekend (!!). We might need to revise it, or decide to change some of it, which is why I say ‘working.’ But it should be mostly done by Sunday!

The first article I read was “Doing History in the Digital Age”, by Barbara Weinstein. I adored her description of the uses of Google – being a Goddess of Google is something everyone should be able to experience once in their lifetime. Or, similarly, finding a perfect article on JSTOR or googlescholar. Similarly, it took me forever to figure out how to use accents on a computer. Sad confession – it was only when I started taking French in college that I figured I should finally give up the ghost and google it. Who knew it as so easy on a Mac? I can use accepts on a Mac to my little heart’s content now. What she seems to be getting at, though, is her generation’s ‘fits and starts’ method of learning new technology. Certainly, my mother and father are this way. Sometimes I am amazed at what they can do and find on a computer, and other times I am surprised by what they have yet to figure out. This confusion and lack of knowledge of technology is definitely reflected in different classes. Classes where computers are banned and teachers write on the eraser board contrast jarringly with classes where every student has a computer and they are used as a way to further discussion.

The second article I read was “Strange Facts in the History Classroom: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wiki(pedia) by Christopher Miller. I was instantly intrigued. The bashing of Wikipedia seems to be a professional sport among the academic community, and so anything that might go against that logic is appealing to me.  One of the first, really key points in Miller’s article (in my opinion)  is that “many… professors ban vaguely defined “internet sources” as if the means of acquisition determines a source’s reliability.” I have found this to be unfortunately true – I had one professor say that if we used any books that could not be found in the UMW library, he would not give us credit because it meant we used an online resource. He was an extreme case (and thankfully not a member of the History department) but I feel that he nevertheless demonstrates the extreme fear and dislike of internet resources. But many are tempted to believe ALL internet sources are bad and the worst internet resource of all internet resources is Wikipedia. The only really ‘safe’ information is in books. I find this infuriating. While I do not believe that one should be able to use Wikipedia in, say, a capstone senior thesis, I do think it is worth looking at. Its footnotes can be very useful, and it is often a good jumping off point.


Comments are closed.