Thursday, July 30, 2015

Can history and geography survive the digital age?

Can history and geography survive the digital age?  Matthew Reisz. The Times Higher Education. July 10 2015.
A leading historical geographer has called on both his disciplines to find better ways of “navigating the digital world”.
Even though history and geography rank “among the greatest synthesizing disciplines” and could help to “make the world more meaningful, more legible, for everyone”, academics rely too much on outdated technology and run the risk of having their writings end up behind a "pay-wall universe”.
“History has traditionally required long-form prose,” and academics are encouraged to write in more more publishable formats. Books have been the standard method of writing, but these do not work as well for computers, phones, tablets and e-readers are not "suitable for long-form reading.” Also, “no file format is less suitable to a smartphone than a PDF”, and they are often hidden away behind paywalls, which are difficult to access and “invisible” to search engines. Academics might need to prepare for a world in which “intellectual endeavours take place in app space”. These disciplines are "better suited to the digital world than it might seem” because historians and geographers have always relied on stories, maps and descriptions.  That is "how we can navigate the digital world.”

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