Monday, July 4, 2011

A Posting Recap

It's been quiet here on Assembling History in recent months, but I've been hard at work elsewhere on the web.

I am now blogging about digital public history for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities, based at Rutgers-Camden:

* Getting help from a few thousand friends

* Online storytelling

* Making digital public history useful

And over at Fondly, Pennsylvania, the archives and conservation blog of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, I continue to write about my work on a new digital project there:

* Getting from paper pages to digital texts

* Sharing ideas

* Untangling text encoding

* An unexpected connection to Dr. King

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A New Memorial For City Hall

As a fitting companion to this year's 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the City of Philadelphia has pledged $500,000 over the next two years for a monument to under-appreciated African American activist Octavius V. Catto (1839-1871).

Catto was murdered for his political activism during the election of 1871, just one year after Pennsylvania ratified the 15th Amendment guaranteeing black men the right to vote. You can read more about Catto's life and legacy here and here.

The new monument is planned for the southwest corner of City Hall's Dilworth Plaza, which is currently getting a facelift.

The O. V. Catto Memorial Fund still needs to raise additional funds before the monument can become a reality, but in the meantime, you can learn more about the city's gift here and here.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Is Web 2.0 Gender Biased?

According to a study published last year (and written about in The New York Times today), only 13 percent of Wikipedia contributors are women.

I can't help wondering as I continue planning a new digital history project: what role is gender playing in web 2.0 more broadly defined? Does interactive mean mostly male?

The New York Times reporter argues that the Wikipedia contributor bias is reinforced by "the traditions of the computer world and an obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men and, some say, uncomfortable for women."

But, in 2008, the same newspaper published a story that argued a very different point: "among the youngest Internet users, the primary creators of Web content . . . are digitally effusive teenage girls."

Now, I realize that "web content" does not mean Wikipedia entries, but why doesn't one type of content breed another?

Meanwhile, journalist Kara Swisher wrote just last month about the absence of female board members among the biggest web 2.0 companies (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), pointing out that each of those companies have a huge female audience. Yup, in case you missed the good news in amongst the bad: these sites have a huge female audience.

So is there a digital gender divide or not?

For those of us interested in creating and playing with digital history, this topic is well worth considering. How do we encourage participation by many different types of people, and how do we know if we're succeeding?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Philly Past and Present

A Temple University journalism class has launched a new photoblog, Documenting Philadelphia, to share their documentary photography work this semester.

For one of their first assignments, the students have dug up historic photos of assorted streetscapes and taken modern photos of the same locations. Fascinating stuff.