Thursday, February 26, 2009

Forward Capture: A History with Value

Forward Capture is a project created by the Center for History and New Media and the National Council on Public History in the United States. Together they are soliciting thoughts from public historians on where the future of public history. It's a great example of creating opportunities to participate in a larger sharing of knowledge and the results will form the backbone of a larger presentation at the NCPH annual meeting in April 2009.

If you haven't yet done so please make your own contribution to the site. I've posted my own entry below that tries to tackle the issue of value and history which I think is really important. And fortunately if you read my blog, occasionally, you will know that I don't normally talk like I'm staring into the sky.

The Future of Public History:

Public Historians that embrace history, and history that embraces public historians.

The future of public history is a future where history has value and is valued. For history to be important in society is has to have some value – whether it tells someone about their own personal past, the society they live in, or the events that they face. Public Historians need to serve as gatherers and aggregators, using skill sets developed through sound research and analysis, to share the value of the work done by academic and local historians with an audience of informed and interested citizens.

A field that encourages high school students to study history, encourages graduates to take history programs in college and university, and encourages university and college graduates to continue working in the field – whether through academia, education, museums, archives or publications.

A modern inviting history that is urban and edgy in style and content. Content and presentation should be fresh and bold, that utilizes the style already relevant in other fields.

A participatory history that invites each citizen to provide their own story. Together these stories provide details and life while also illuminating the larger patterns that historians research each and every day. A public history that embraces the ability of new technology, life forward capture has, to include, invite, and reshape the role of the historian.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Change comes to Canada

Today United States President Barack Obama is making his first official visit to our national capital. I know that Canadians from coast to coast are warmly welcoming the President and it has been the main topic of discussion here for the last week at least. 

His first discussion today is with Governor-General Michaƫlle Jean (a glimpse of which I just caught on the CBC). At the time of his election the Governor-General I think best transmitted the sentiments of Canadians in her warm message of hope and celebration. You can watch her full statement on her website,

Citizens Voices is a great website for each and every Canadian to learn more about the valuable work the Governor-General does and to engage with other Canadians on important topics. It brings the kind of openess and inclusion that should be of value to every level of government - something I think the New President would greatly aprove. 

Welcome to Canada Mr. President.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

TED: Ideas woth spreading to your students

One of the reason's why I started on this digital history adventure just over three years ago was that I was going to graduate from University. I wasn't worried about the work place or what the future held - that actually excited me and I was hopeful of trying new things. But what I was worried about was loosing touch with a larger academic community. I felt that through technology I could still continue to learn - learn about history, about technology, and about just great ideas that still made my brain jump the way it did in University.

Fortunately the number size of the online idea community is continuing to grow, and one that is readily available to your students. We talk often about issues of civics and engagement, making sure that students are informed about what is happening in the world. Surely a great endeavor that is of the utmost importance. But at some point students also need to learn about more that what is on the six o'clock news or in the local paper - we have to have some connection to a wider current of ideas and thoughts.

Which brings me back to TED: Technology, Entertainment, Design. I love hearing interesting and smart people talk about things they find interesting and are passionate about. Anytime you can hear or spend time with a passionate person, you will grow yourself. In life we often have too few opportunities to share in this community.

TED let's you meet interesting and passionate people everyday. They inspire people in a wide variety of fields but share common threads that somehow relate back to each of us. Never in history have we had such opportunities - through TED and other projects - to learn and share in the wisdom of others. They do it because it matters to them and they are passionate about their work.

Every classroom should take a few moments out for a TED talk now and then. And of course they have a school program as well - so start finding the special lights in your community.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Popular Relevance

As part of an Introduction to Learning Technologies course at the University of Manitoba I've been exploring the program Digg. We drew our projects from We Are Media, a website designed to help non-profit organizations better use new media in their endeavours.

Digg is a social bookmarking tool that you may have noticed before on many news or information websites. The tool allows you to "digg" content that you are in to (if that's what you're into). Content that is most popular, in theory, rises to the top and shares information with a larger audience, focusing in on the best and most interesting stories.

There are some great advantages to Digg that make it very accessible. The program allows to you install a toolbar and follow sites live as you visit them, seeing who and how many people are interested in a website.

But for educational purposes, and arguably for any purposes online, Digg provides more of a popular than relevant story. Content is largely pulled from mainstream media websites with stories "Dugg" by a core group of supporters.

Creating communites of practice and learning communities doesn't require mass participation. I trust the websites and blogs of my colegues to post material that I'm interested in and that is relevant. I don't really expect it to be popular with a wide audience. If I wanted that I would have stayed with traditional media sources - they are surprisingly good at covering all things popular.

The other thing is that Digg let's you build a community of "Friends." But this suggests that I only learn from my friends. I often times learn from complete strangers. It's the thousands of people circling the globe, people I never would have met before, that are often working on and considering simliar thoughts and issues.

For now I'm sticking with, in fact I think I'm even going to start tagging even more.