The Presence of the Past: The Possibilities of Virtual Reality for History

  For the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about virtual reality and its potential applications for historians. Can we use virtual reality to better understand the past?  Can the experience of virtual reality alter historical thinking? Can we now build time machines, teleporters, and holodecks using virtual reality? These questions may be overly optimistic or idealistic. I may look back on this article a year from now and …

A Historian’s Year with a Chromebook

  Could a Chromebook satisfy the computing needs of a historian? Over the past twelve months, I’ve been using one to find out. Google’s low-cost, Web-based operating system, ChromeOS, is one of the most unique developments in computing in recent years. It is a lean computer operating system based almost entirely around the use of Web applications and cloud storage. Recognizing that most ordinary computer use takes place in a …

Who Teaches Digital History in Canada?

  Digital history is coming to York University in Fall 2016. That is to say, I finally got around to organizing and preparing to teach digital history. As I get ready to teach this course, I am surveying the landscape of digital history teaching in Canada, looking for ideas. Readers of this article, I hope, will help by posting suggestions and links to resources in the comments below. For many …

Canada’s Historical Newspaper Digitization Problem, Part 2

Nearly three years ago, I wrote a post called “Canada’s Historical Newspaper Digitization Problem” in which I agreed with the findings of a Higher Education Academy study that found that Canada lagged behind the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand in the digitization of historical newspapers. I found that Canada’s online historical newspaper archive is very limited, fragmented, and difficult to access. One of the reasons this became one of …

Textbooks in a Digital Age: The History of Canada Online

Digital technologies are changing the way we read history. With the popularization of consumer electronic e-readers like Kindle, Sony Reader, Kobo, and (yes) iPad, many textbook publishers are trying to take advantage of this opportunity to reach digital reading audiences. Unfortunately, the Kindle DX digital textbook pilot program at Princeton had a rocky start and further reviews haven’t been favourable. Some universities are now experimenting with Apple’s iPad as a …

Top 5 Indispensible Digital History Tools

  Digital and online-based technologies have changed the historian’s craft. Within the past two decades, these technologies have enhanced our abilities to research, analyze, communicate, and teach history. While the current generation of students is commonly referred to as “digital natives” or the “net generation” the assumption that young people are inherently knowledgeable about digital technologies and the internet is largely misplaced. Next year I will be leading a session …