17 June 2021
History of… the Future? As we saw in Archives of the Future, the fragility of digital storage media and the rise of big data have reverse the historian’s relationship with our primary sources. Future historians will have access to what we choose to save for them.
Historians have been trained to stress continuity and gradual change rather than rupture. Technological determinism reminiscent of Elizabeth Eisenstein’s thesis of a putative “print revolution” is an approach most historians view with a skeptical eye. Still, the more historians engage with today’s information technology, it becomes apparent that the historical profession is about to experience a radical departure from established practices.
Are we prepared to recover data from abandoned data centers? Authenticate digital media sources? Decrypt secure data? Stitch together sharded files? Utilize a supercomputer?
Jeffrey Tharsen and Scott Weingart are experienced researchers at the cutting edge of digital humanities research. This roundtable session will be an opportunity to hear their unscripted thoughts on what historians (and humanists more broadly) should expect in the decades ahead.