Recently I attended two “Wikipedia Edit-a-thons.” The name evoked images of committed scholars and students gathered together to pursue an all-nighter that would generate scores of new articles, hundreds of meaningful edits. What actually transpired was the opportunity to address questions of public history and online scholarly identity.
Public history has been at the forefront of democratizing historical knowledge and utilizing nontraditional modes of inquiry—from oral history to personal archives—since its inception. In that time, it—we—have substantially affected the larger practice of history in the academy. But, to vastly oversimplify, the promises and possibilities of the digital have risen as a challenge to all historians to rethink how we disseminate our work and, at the same time, to spur conversations that question and critique the role of technology in the 21st century. Continue reading