Interactive digital history

Well, I’m off to a conference today, in case you’d all forgotten. (I appear not to have plugged it much lately. Very remiss of me.) Below is the abstract for my paper and a few (!) links I’ve put together, some of which may be used to string together my “ideas”, and some of which are just things I happened upon while reading. Comments welcome, especially if they prove the thesis that interactivity is the coolest thing on the planet.


Digital History 2.0? Collaboration, community and interactivity in the digitisation of history

One of the loudest buzzwords of the last few years has been “Web 2.0”. There’s much debate over exactly what this means, but at the core of the concept is the ideal of dynamic content, interactivity and participation by web audiences. Wikipedia is perhaps the most (in)famous example so far, while newspapers are falling over themselves to allow readers of their websites to have their say. But does all this offer anything useful for historians? It has been suggested that ‘interactive’ digital history might transform historical practice, creating ‘new forms of collaboration, new modes of debate, and new modes of collecting evidence about the past’. The National Archives has set up a community wiki to draw on the experience of researchers in order to extend and expand on its online catalogue and digital content; there are growing numbers of online archives, such as the new Great War Archive, built entirely or substantially on public contributions of written texts, images, oral histories, and so on. The Old Bailey Proceedings Online has attracted a wide range of researchers – academics and non-academics alike – since its inception, many of whom have accumulated specialised knowledge that could enrich the site as a resource. This paper explores the potential benefits – and possible pitfalls – of opening up digital history resources to user-generated content and metadata.

Web 2.0

What is Web 2.0? (Tim O’Reilly)



Diary of Samuel Pepys


Your Archives
*Crime and Punishment category
*Transportation of Mary Wade aged 10

Library of Congress Photos on Flickr

Also Picture Australia

The Great War Archive

The September 11 Archive

Hurrican Digital Memory Bank

Moving Here

Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front


Library Thing


AHA Archives Wiki


Digital History (Dan Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig)

The Pirate Problem (Dan Cohen)

Digitisation and its discontents (Antony Grafton)

Everyone’s a Historian Now

The changing role of intellectual authority (Peter Nicholson)

The bottom is not enough

Semantic Networks and Historical Knowledge Management

The rise of crowdsourcing

Digital Research Tools (DiRT)

Using Wiki in Education

Ontology is overrated (Clay Shirky)

Broad and narrow folksonomies (Thomas Vander Wal)

Folksonomy explanations

Folksonomy (Shirky)

Folksonomy: social classification (Gene Smith)

Folksonomies/metadata ecologies (Louis Rosenfeld)

Folksonomic solution to record linkage

Tags Help Make Libraries

Metadata for the masses

Taxonomies and Trees

Overview of Social Bookmarking Tools

Social tools, components for success

Why some social networks work and others don’t

The Cornucopia of the Commons






Collaborative Transcription and Annotation

Archival transcriptions: for the public, by the public

Crowdsourced Transcription and Collaborative Annotation

Crowdsourcing transcriptions

Collaborative Manuscript Transcription

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2 Responses to Interactive digital history

  1. Larry Cebula says:

    I am late to the party, but two things worth adding to your list of examples are Omeka (and sites that use it such as Making the History of 1989: The Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe) and

    Both allow searchable user tags (as a separate category from official tags). is a private firm that works with the National Archives to digitize a lot of archival manuscript collections. They have a lot neat 2.0 features on their site.

    How did the presentation go?

  2. Sharon says:

    Thanks for the suggestions. I left out because, although it does look pretty cool, it’s not a free site (well, I think there’s teaser material on free access). I’ll take another look at Omeka though.

    The presentation went well, although I didn’t have time for many of the examples in the end. Now all we have to do is get the site up and running…

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