Hello, all! I’m Istvan Szepesi, but I prefer to just go by Van. Short, straightforward, and no silent Zs or invisible Hs to confuse people.

It took me a long time to grasp the fact that I liked history, mostly due to the fact that I am not particularly interested in modern Canadian history, which dominated my early experiences with formal history learning. However, once I discovered that I did in fact really enjoy learning about the past (ironically, during a particularly unsatisfying history class in high school), I realized that I had been surrounding myself in it for quite some time without even noticing. Ever since, I have been more consciously delving into the past and enjoying it more every step of the way. While my especial interest lies in early modern European history, I like learning about most periods of history through a multitude of mediums, including lectures, books, podcasts, and yes, video games.

I signed up for Digital History for three main reasons. The first and most straightforward was that Dr. Milligan gave a guest lecture in the Art and Craft of History last semester and I found myself, against expectations, really interested in what he was talking about.

It may seem surprising that I would expect to be bored by digital history, considering some of the hobbies that I listed above. The reason for this relates to my second reason for taking Digital History. You see, I grew up in a computer science dominated household. My father is an IT consultant, so the topic came up a lot, and the flow of programming talk only increased as my older brother took up computer science himself. I even made a website in grade 5, although what that really amounted to was entering my information in the middle of the code my dad told me to type. Ever since then, I’ve left the programming to other family members. Occasionally, I would learn a neat trick or two listening to them talk about computer science, but most of the time, I would just tune them out, since most of what they say is gibberish to me. However, Digital History presented an opportunity not only to enhance my craft as a historian, but also to get a little knowledge here and there about computers, and maybe even give me something interesting to say every now and then.

The final reason I am taking Digital History is the most obvious, but also the most important. One of the few things I enjoy even more than learning about a particularly interesting period of history is sharing that knowledge with others. Digital technology is already a crucial medium in today’s culture, as people are constantly surrounded by the internet and other forms of electronic entertainment, with technology only appearing to grow in importance as time passes. Therefore, as someone who aspires to become a historian in the increasingly digital future, it is important that I learn to fully appreciate the ways in which technology can help enhance the spread of history, as well as to learn the tools that it provides for researching and learning about the past. It is my hope that I can use the skills learned in Digital History to further enrich my ability to share the past with others.

All that aside, I am looking forward to spending the semester with you all and getting to delve into Digital History together.