Digital History on a Shoestring?
Is it possible to do digital history without having prior technical skills, and without the luxury of a major grant? My paper focuses on my learning curve as an historian who came to digital history at mid-career, so that it involved fundamental professional re-training on multiple levels. How does one organize and prepare research data for digital history? How does one grapple with the representational dilemmas of presenting data digitally, which comes with both opportunities and constraints? How does one manage or master the numerous layers of requisite technical skills required for digital history? What are the blessings and the pitfalls of collaboration? My paper is based on my experience constructing a digital exhibit, an historical GIS site, and a rare historical text / foreign-language translation site. Each project has been done on a shoestring with the help of collaborators, and each has led me a rabbit hole of ever-unfolding technical challenges. Yet each project is done, even if necessarily ever in progress. This paper would be for any historian interested in digital history at mid-career, for whom such undertakings presented daunting technical and funding challenges.