What I Would Want from a History Web Conference

via ArchivesNext.  Those who read my blog know that I’ve been to a couple of conferences lately and have yet to write reports.  I’m about to go off to another next week, and yet another at the end of June.

In an effort to get caught up on what I’m getting out of all this conferencing, I’m replying to questions posed at Archivesnext about “the possibilities of using the popular Museums and the Web conference as a model for something like a History & the Web conference. The concept would be to connect organizations with historical collections and the people who use them to make the web a better place for studying and expanding our knowledge about history. Possible participants and stakeholders could include:

  • organizations like archives, museums, special collections, historical societies, and libraries who have historical collections and build tools to access them, and the people who work in such organizations
  • scholars and researchers who have used materials available on the web in innovative ways or who have built their own tools to promote access to historical collections
  • scholars and researchers who study how historical materials are used
  • educators at all levels who use historical materials available on the Web in their teaching
  • people or organizations from other fields who have projects that can be used as models for the history community (such as the citizen science efforts)
  • students and educators in archival science, library science, museum studies, public history, and history who are studying the use of the web for the study of history

One question that being asked is what would people most like to get out of a conference like this?”

I thought this post was great because I attended Museums and the Web this year and while I thought it was great was very overwhelmed.  It also seemed like there weren’t many participants from history museums and other heritage organizations, and hardly any from history departments with public history programs.  So, I think there is definitely a need for a separate place to address the interests of this subgroup.  Here’s my reply to the query at Archivesnext:

“The short answer is yes, there needs to be something like this and I think NCPH would be the best venue for this. I also think that in order to get more involved in the field there needs to be some concrete, hands-on training in technical skills. Although I teach a graduate course in digital history, I’m largely self-taught and my skills are way behind those who attend and present at THATCamp and Museums and the Web. I attended the latter this past April and while I enjoyed it I also felt overwhelmed at how little I know how to do, and how poorly I know how to do that.”

There is now a follow-up post at Archivesnext to ask for more concrete suggestions:

  • The objectives or goals for a History & the Web conference should be . . .
  • I think we need a new conference because . . .
  • The audience for a History & the Web conference would be . . .
  • I want to see these activities at a History & the Web conference . . .
  • I would like a History & the Web conference to achieve these outcomes . . .
  • I think the most important thing for the planners to keep in mind is that the event  . . . (for example, be affordable, have an online virtual component, attract international participation, attract diverse participation, have opportunities for informal collaboration, attract as many participants as possible, be small and regional, etc.)

They wanted these all by the end of May, but I was buried in exams and, of course, getting ready for my upcoming conferences!  They only received two replies so far so maybe it’s not too late to join the conversation.

Also, my colleagues at Trinity College is soliciting comments and ideas for Writing History in the Digital Age, an born digital, open-review volume under contract with University of Michigan press.

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