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The Way We Write History Has Changed

Archives for the modern mind

With digitization, archives are now accessed through many mediums by more than just the historian. 

Different types of people outside the professionalized historical tradition could do history, which will lead to more diverse authors, and ultimately a different account of events.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The Way We Write History Has Changed

The Way We Write History Has Changed

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2020/01/smartphone-archives-history-photography/605284/

theatlantic.com

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Key Ideas

Difference between libraries and archives

History comes out of an archive, not a library.

  • Libraries spread knowledge that's been collected and compressed into books and other media.
  • Archives are where collections of papers are stored. Archives contain materials from the people and institutions near it. For example, the Silicon Valley Archives at Stanford contain everything from Atari's business plans to HP co-founder William Hewlett's correspondence.

Archives and the digitization of knowledge

Unlike libraries, archives have generally resisted the digitization of knowledge. They are still mostly paper where you might spend weeks to months working through all the boxes of interest.

The tools are changing

With the use of smartphones, instead of reading papers during an archival visit, historians take digital photos of the documents to look at them later.

The practice might seem insignificant, but the ways that information is collected and managed is changing what historians can learn from it. As a result, different histories will be written.

Archives for the modern mind

With digitization, archives are now accessed through many mediums by more than just the historian. 

Different types of people outside the professionalized historical tradition could do history, which will lead to more diverse authors, and ultimately a different account of events.

How history could change

With the ability to capture more documents, the depth of archival work will increase. At the same time, because you are able to find relevant information beyond your project, you may lose what's going on locally.

When you digitize more, you may overestimate your knowledge and believe that your record is complete.

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1. Rewrite It

Spend 5 minutes each morning preparing your task list to have only accomplishable tasks that fit the time you have available. Keep other tasks on a holding list for another day.

2. Be Laser Focused

Set a timer for 15 minutes, shut out the world and concentrate with intense focus on one and only one task. Closing your door and turning off your phone and internet are specially important.

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Recognize that not everything in your list must be done. When in doubt, delete it from your list; if it is important you’ll eventually add it back.

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Oral histories (and even personal journals) sometimes answer questions that aren’t found in the official texts, about the inner motivations and discarded facts that may be important.

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30 years from now, oral history collected through TV interviews and online resources will be incredibly valuable, but can also carry certain biases. Historians have to ensure that the interpretations are accurate and untainted.

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First-Hand Knowledge

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Raw Data

For an artefact to qualify as a primary source, it has to be created during the event or experience at a particular time in history and record the data from that time. Data from primary sources may be raw, biased and subjective.

Also called original sources, it is often an unreliable source of information due to distortion, selective recall, and selective omission.

Supporting Historical Claims

Primary sources, with all its faults, provide the raw data to build the main historical event or hypothesis, and can also be used as evidence to support a historical claim.

Historically, documents, objects, maps, tools, and clothing may be the primary sources, providing the necessary evidence.

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