Every course has, at its heart, the aim of imparting applicable information for future. Therefore, here at the end of Digital History, it seems appropriate to examine what the course has taught me and what value the study has for the discipline of history.

In my first post, I talked about 3 things I hoped to get out of Digital History as a course: interesting new knowledge, a better understanding of technology, and new ways of learning and sharing information. I think Digital History has done an admirable job of not only fulfilling these goals, but also showing how small they were in comparison to the potential benefits of using technology to enhance the study of history. While 3D printing, spatial history, Omeka, and other topics discussed in the course were certainly fascinating and informative, I did not fully appreciate their transformative impact on history, whether it be in adding visual and tactile resources to a primarily written source base or making historical information broadly accessible online. I certainly did not foresee my own creation of the Hungarian Revolution Revisited site, which, using only the tools learned in a single course, allowed me to share previously inaccessible primary documents with a wide and diverse audience.

This is not to suggest that digital history is a simple and straightforward discipline. Indeed, the other major lesson I feel the course Digital History imparted was just how complex the issues of integrating technology with history can be. I am certainly would not consider myself a programmer in any way shape or form, despite it being the subject the course spent the most time on. Other subjects, such as the role of popular media (from internet hoaxes to video games) in the public awareness of history, have the potential for years of study, the depth of which simply cannot be conveyed in a single class or even a single course. Digital history is, in short, a serious element of studying the past that needs consideration, whether or not a historian intends to make use of it directly.

After learning some basic Python, I wrote my fourth post on the value of programming to a historian, but I think that the 3 benefits outlined there can also be applied to all of digital history. First and foremost, digital history has an enormous potential for facilitating communication through mediums as diverse as WordPress, podcasting, or programming. Digital history also makes new aspects of history both possible and practical, including the creation of citizen histories, the study of quantitative historical data, and the visualization of historical artifacts or events. Finally, digital history is a crucial element of studying today’s culture, without which no study could be complete. When taking these advantages of digital history into consideration, it is hard to imagine an aspect of historical study that would not be impacted by its use.

At the end of the day, however, all this high level discussion is useless if it is not put to use. The amazing thing about digital history is that it is all around us. To speak only for myself, I know that this course has made me more aware of the historical elements of many of my daily activities, from listening to overtly historical podcasts (such as Hardcore History) to playing video games with only the framework of the past (hi, Civilization 5!). Hopefully, I can put the lessons learned in Digital History to practical use as well, whether that takes the form of enrolling in a MOOC (Massively Online Open Course) or just improving the material already on the Hungarian Revolution Revisited. Whatever the next step may be, my views of history cannot remain the same in a constantly changing world, so taking the time and energy to consider technology’s role in history is an important part of my development as a historian. By achieving this, Digital History lands solidly among the most important history courses I have taken thus far.

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