Interview of Bryan Alexander by Howard Rheingold What does it mean to read on a Kindle, to read on an iPad, to read on a phone? Are we in the era of social reading, where you and I can read the same book, and then share annotations through the web or through mutual devices? Trying…

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Courses of study will place much more emphasis on the analysis of data. Gen. George Marshall famously told a Princeton commencement audience that it was impossible to think seriously about the future of postwar Europe without giving close attention to Thucydides on the Peloponnesian War. Of course, we’ll always learn from history. But the capacity…

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Though I usually work with the Bookworm database of Open Library texts, I’ve been playing a bit more with the Google Ngram data sets lately, which have substantial advantages in size, quality, and time period. Largely I use it to check or search for patterns I can then analyze in detail with text-length data; but…

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I’ve started thinking a lot about Big Data and what it could mean for museums in a time when, as Danah Boyd and Kate Crawford write “The era of Big Data has begun.” …

… if Big Data is becoming increasingly important in research and the constitution of knowledge, and yet museums are not themselves necessarily likely to be the ones using it internally (assuming that our expertise lies elsewhere) how can we then think of continuity and succession planning for our data, to ensure it is useful for other researchers? Is this something we can even achieve?

The End of Western Civilization As We Know It

March 21-28, 2008

Over the past couple of years I’ve written a number of posts in which I wrestle with what technological change means for the future of higher educationgeneral education, and history education specifically. Much of my speculating and ranting in these posts has centered on what seems to me to be a clash between the traditional methods by which knowledge is delivered to students (curriculum, teaching) and the world that our students live in (tech-centric, socially networked, etc.).

There has been much talk recently about “maximising” and measuring academic impact through blogging and social media (as well as the academic impact of online publications and resources), but what is not often discussed thoroughly is what the meaning of “maximising” is in this context.

“Maximising” seems to refer to the quantitative, rather than the qualitative, implying that “impact” is necessarily related to how many people or visits or clicks or downloads a given online resource is getting.

[T]he seven or eight major projects I have co-directed are, from my perspective at least, fragments of a single coherent research agenda and project.

And that project is about the amalgamation of the Digital Humanities with an absolute commitment to a particular kind of history: ‘History from Below’.  They form an attempt to integrate the British Marxist Historical Tradition, with all the assumptions that implies about the roles of history in popular memory, and community engagement, with digital delivery.  In the language of the moment, they are a fragment of what we might discuss as a peculiar flavour of ‘public history’. 

Perhaps there are historical reasons why, at this particular moment, the humanities are so self-reflective. No perhaps about it, actually. We are somewhat lost at sea and the “digital” is part of the reason. This does not mean, however, that reflection is productive, and certainly not all reflection is productive…. I am particularly interested in the problem of rethinking rhetorical education to address shifting literacy practices. This, to me, is not narcissistic, though it does involve looking at the rhetorical practices of humanisits since it is fairly clear that what we will teach students is a function of what we do ourselves.

…Composing is a networked phenomenon because thinking is always already relational. I mean you are composing/thinking in words right? You didn’t invent that language, right?

Lecture at King’s College London, 25 January 2012

….A standard point of historical reference in thinking about the modern information revolution is the arrival of print in the fifteenth century, but perhaps a closer parallel is the way in which the growth of empire and the resulting changes in industry and agriculture transformed Britain in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. David Simpson has pointed out how Wordsworth’s reference to ‘bright volumes of vapour’ in his poem ‘Poor Susan’ in the Lyrical Ballads may refer to the over-production of cheap and worthless literature – a data deluge whose effects preoccupied Wordsworth.