Table of Contents
|Email:||matt [dot] price [at] utoronto [dot] ca|
|Office Hrs:||SS 3077 R 1-3|
In the year of your birth, the World Wide Web was an obscure technical work-in-progress buried in the depths of a vast research institute. Today, it permeates almost every aspect of our lives, including every stage in the production of knowledge. You have been living through a fundamental transformation of knowledge; and yet the modes of communication you’ve learned and explored at University (the essay, the article, the scholarly monograph) belong to the world that came before. There are good reasons for this. The standards of our discipline were formed carefully over hundreds of years, in a determined quest to uncover and communicate truths about the past to our colleagues and the wider world. Even so, historians need to explore the digital media of our present and future. The books and other writings of old will not disappear, but they will be supplemented and to some extent supplanted by the new media of the web and its successors. In this class, we will explore those new media as tools for the transmission of historical knowledge, culminating in an intensive group project in which you will build a historical website in close collaboration with a community partner. The community partnership is a key element of “Hacking History”, and a source of many of its pleasures and challenges.
In the first semester we will meet on a weekly basis to discuss the week’s readings (“Readings” in the outline) and work together on a technical or interpretative task that will be defined in advance (“Lab” in the outline). In advance of the class meeting students will (where not otherwise noted) be expected to produce written responses to the readings in the form of blog postings, and to respond to the postings of at least two other students. If at all possible, you should bring your laptop or (not as good!) tablet to class for the lab portion.
In certain weeks there are also other types of assignments; these are noted in the outline and referred to in the course requirements. In general the aim is to foster an atmosphere of collaborative and self-directed learning in which all work is focused on building the analytic resources, technical skills, and confidence to create really great projects in the second semester. Though the assignment structure is fixed, readings may change based on student interests. The semester culminates with group presentations of your proposed projects.
In the second semester it is expected that students will spend most of their time working directly on their project with the partnering organization. We will meet most weeks to discuss specific technical questions raised by the projects themselves, and will discuss additional readings as needed. Importantly, students will continue to make regular postings about their progress, and comment on each other’s writing. Projects will be submitted to community partners for review in the second to last week of classes, presented to the class in the final course meeting, and handed in to the professor immediately before the beginning of finals period.
In this project-based class, we have relatively few readings and instead focus on active learning through a variety of assignments, all of which are intended to help you build towards your final, collaborative group project.
The class has 5 kinds of assignments:
- 19 Weekly Blog Postings (both semesters, 20%)
- 4 “Short Technical Assignments” (STA’s, first semester, 10%)
- 1 Website Review (First Semester, 5%)
- One Written Paper (7-9 pp, Jan 10, 10%)
- The Final Project (website, ongoing but due April 4, 45%)
with the balance of 10% for on- and off-line participation, which includes comments on other students’ blog posts, contributions to online resources, and discussion.
Blog Postings are thoughtful pieces, 300 words or so in length, posted to the course blog by noon the day before class meets (so, noon each Monday). You will be expected to read your colleagues’ postings and respond to them, both online (using the blog’s comment function) and in class. In the first semester, these postings will primarily be responses to the weekly readings. In the second semester, they will instead generally take the form of progress reports in which you discuss your final projects and your interactions with partnering organizations, or of short written pieces from your project site (see below). In the event that I want you to focus on something else, I will inform you one week in advance in class. Some informality in tone is acceptable and even expected, but these are to be serious, thoughtful engagements with the course materials. Think of them as a cross between a regular blog post and a review or response paper. Citations of online sources should use hyperlinks; other material should be cited as in printed assignments (I recommend Chicago Manual of Style, but we will discuss this at greater length during the semester). You are expected to blog each week of class, with the exception of the first and last week of each semester, and the week of your website review. I will comment on individual blog posts as much as possible, but will give out marks only twice a year (approx. Nov. 29 & Apr. 3).
Short Technical Assignments (STA’s) are designed to give you the technical skills you will need for your website development work in the second semester. Approximately every 3 weeks in the first semester, you will complete a short on or off-line assignment for a pass-fail grade. The lab assignments will cover basic web skills and other technical topics, which will always have been covered in the third ‘lab’ hour of class.
The Website Review has two parts: a written review of a historical website posted to the course website at least 24 hours before class, and a very short in-class presentation. We will have one or two website reviews each week in the first semester, except for the first and final meetings. The written portion is posted to the course website in lieu of that week’s blog post and should be tagged “review” to make it easier to find (see the review assignment for more details).
The Paper is due shortly after the beginning of the second semester. Approximately 8-10 pages long, its format is that of a standard course paper: a well-researched thesis, supported by evidence garnered from primary and secondary sources. Students are expected to write on topics related to their Final Projects (see below).
The Final Project is a major collaborative effort to build a historical website in service to an organization outside the University. Students will work in groups of 3-4, collaboratively building a substantive site which balances scholarly merit with the interests of the sponsoring organization and accessibility to the general public. We have assembled a list of Partnering Organizations which have expressed interest in working with you, and you should carefully examine their proposals and discuss them with your peers. See the Project Guidelines for more detailed discussion & marking breakdown.
Blogs: blog postings are due by noon the day before class. Late blog postings will not be marked.
STA’s: 5%/day late penalty for the first 4 days, after which they will not be marked.
Final Project: It is essential that you complete your final project on time in order to get feedback from the sponsoring organization and organize the handoff of the project. The various deadlines for the project (see Project Guidelines) are firm. DO NOT MISS THEM.
- : Detailed assignment handed out with preliminary partner suggestions
- : Project Proposal due and presented
- : Paper Due
- : Intermediate Status Report
- : Submission to Community Partner
- : Project Open House/FINAL DUE DATE
All texts for this course are online, either in the public web or as pdfs. Most of them are publicly available. You may want physical copies of some books; these are available at Amazon or by special order from any sizable bookstore.
- Cohen & Rosenzweig, Digital History (http://chnm.gmu.edu/digitalhistory/)
- D. Brown, Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning (http://communicatingdesign.com/)
Outline for Semester 1
Why we should write history, why everyone should do it, and why that means we need the Web. Hacker cultures, collaborative learning, knowledge sharing, non-expert culture.
Lab: Technical Introduction
- WordPress & the course site.
- Blogging & social media review.
Language of the Web
The Wisdom of the Crowd
The new kinds of collaboration that the web makes possible, and the intellectual challenges they create.
- R. Rosenzweig, “Can History be Open Source?“
- Aaron Swartz, “Who Writes Wikipedia“
- Owens, Trevor. Digital Cultural Heritage and the Crowd.” Curator: The Museum Journal 56, no. 1 (2013): 121–130.
- Dan Cohen, “”The Spider and the Web (Results) (be sure to read the preceding two posts)
- Madsen-Brooks, Leslie. “‘I nevertheless am a historian’.” Writing History in the Digital Age, March 12, 2012.
Lab: CSS and Web Styles
Assignments: STA1 Handed out Today (Web Styles)
A basic introduction to the questions surrounding the production of “public” history.
- Corbett, Katharine T., and Howard S. (Dick) Miller. “A Shared Inquiry into Shared Inquiry.” The Public Historian 28, no. 1 (February 1, 2006): 15–38.
- Carr, Graham. Rules of Engagement: Public History and the Drama of Legitimation.” The Canadian Historical Review 86, no. 2 (2005): 317–354.
- Filene, Benjamin. “Passionate Histories: ‘Outsider’ History-Makers and What They Teach Us.” The Public Historian 34, no. 1 (February 1, 2012): 11–33.
Lab: Getting Started with WordPress
Assignments: STA1 Due Today
Working with Communities
The ethics of working with laypeople, and the promises & pitfalls of collaborating with non-academics.
- Graham, Shawn, Guy Masie, and Nadine Feuerherm. “HeritageCrowd Project: A Case Study in Crowdourcing Public History.” Writing History in the Digital Age, March 19, 2012.
Lab: WordPress Themes
Assignments: STA2 Handed Out (Theming WordPress)
Search and Filter (Information Abundance)
In the past, access to information was one of the historian’s most fundamental challenges. today, it is more often a problem of filtering information.
- Carr, Nicholas. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The Atlantic, August 2008.
- William J Turkel, n.d. Going Digital
- William J. Turkel, “Research 24/7.”
- - Sharma, Patrick. “Oral History, Policy History, and Information Abundance and Scarcity“. Perspectives on History April 2012
Lab: Foundation and SASS
Assignments: STA2 Due
One remarkable possibility opened up by the web is abundant oral history.
- “The Voice of the Past”, “What Makes Oral History Different” and “Learning to Listen in The Oral History Reader
Lab: Art of the Interview
Assignments: STA3 Handed Out (Oral History)
Piracy, Plagiarism, Citation
Ethical, Legal, and Technical Questions around Copyright
- Christopher M. Kelty “Inventing Copyleft,” in Contexts of Invention, ed. Mario Biagioli, Peter Jaszi, and Martha Woodmansee, Chicago: University of Chicago, 2010.
- Richard Stallman, “The GNU Manifesto” and “The Free Software Definition“
- Creative Commons Licences: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/
- Dan Cohen, “Idealism and Pragmatism in the Free Culture Movement“
Lab: More Foundation
Designing Digital Projects
A crash course in website design
- Roy Rosenzweig and Dan Cohen, Chapter 2: “Designing for the History Web,” in Digital History (2006).
- Dan Brown, Communicating Design Ch. 2 (Personas) and 10 (Wireframes)
- Bill Buxton, Sketching User Experiences (excerpts)
Lab: Design exercise (Personas & Wireframes)
Assignments: STA3 Due
Maps and Graphs: Visual History
Thinking about the visual presentation of information
- Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees, ch. 1 (Graphs).
- Knowles, A. K. “GIS and History.” Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship (2008): 1–13.
- Bondenhamer, David J. “History and GIS: Implications for the Discipline.” Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship (2008): 219-234.
- Theibault, John. “Visualizations and Historical Arguments.” Writing History in the Digital Age, March 23, 2012.
Assignments: STA4 Handed Out (Historical Google Map)
Immersive History: Games & Simulations
- Kee and Rockwell, “The Leisure of Serious Games“
- Kee, Kevin, Shawn Graham, Pat Dunae, John Lutz, Andrew Large, Michel Blondeau, and Mike Clare. “Towards a Theory of Good History Through Gaming.” Canadian Historical Review 90, no. 2 (June 1, 2009): 303–326.
- Squire, Kurt, and Sasha Barab. “Replaying History: Engaging Urban Underserved Students in Learning World History Through Computer Simulation Games.” In Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Learning Sciences, 505–512. ICLS ’04.
- Kee, Kevin. “Computerized History Games: Narrative Options.” Simulation & Gaming 42, no. 4 (August 1, 2011): 423–440.
Assignments: STA4 Due
This is your chance to wow the class with your final proposals. Good luck!
‘Outline’ for Semester 2
In the second semester, we will meet mostly to discuss your progress on the project and to address specific issues you are encountering as you work. You will be working pretty intensively on research, design, and writing/creating, so we will usually not have class readings, except in cases where a background reading will obvously be of assistance to most of the class in addressing some issue. The particular topics we take on will be defined by your needs, but some potential ones include:
- Refining your project goals
- Social Media in a community website (Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc)
- Data Capture and Metadata
- How Databases Work
- The Digital divide: Design Implications
- Copyright Issues
- WordPress Content Types
- New HTML5 tags (canvas, audio/video, microformats)
- Video on the Web: HTML5 & dynamic events
- Semantic Web Technologies
- Audio Post-Processing
- Website look and Feel
Our final meeting will be a Project Open House in which you share the final products of your labours with the class.