Digital History

The availability of digital resources on the Web fraises new issues for historical research . The February 2016 issue of the American Historical Review has five articles concerning “reviewing digital history.”  The Introduction by Alex Lichenstein  discusses the state of digital history today and  introduces reviews of two new sites.

“Both of these exchanges remind us that the burgeoning world of digital scholarship deserves fuller critical engagement through these kinds of in-depth reviews. “

Background and issues are given in Googling History: The AHR Explores Implications of Using Digital Sources for Historians (May 16) on the American Historical Association blog.

That article refers to a list of online collections of primary sources — Digital Primary Sources – very eclectic – useful for browsing to see the types, and you might find something related to your research interest.

BBC Recipes

The BBC decision  to remove 11,000 recipes from its website reminds us of the ephermeral nature of web content and the consequences.

BBC unveils shake-up of online services including recipes website, BBC (May 17) — “The BBC has announced that a number of websites, including BBC Food and Newsbeat, are to close as part of plans to save £15m.”

UK Web Archive blog reported that it will archive the recipes from the food pages — Saving BBC Recipes Website (May 17).  So will three other archiving services: Internet Archive, Library of Alexandria and the National Library of Iceland.

BBC announced the next day (May 18) that it would move most of the content to BBCGoodFood, its commercial food site. Publishers are not happy. BBC’s recipes U-turn is a cynical move, say its rivals observed the Guardian (May 18)

Mike Jeffs at Branded3 looked at the change from another point of view — How will removing BBC recipes affect search? Other recipe sites will rank more highly in searches especially on niche items.    BBCGoodFood which already has had larger visibility than the BBC food section will gain 1.8 million keywords to optimize on.

New Lease for Wayback Machine

The Internet Archive has received funding to improve and expand the Wayback Machine for digital preservation of Web content. Thank the Laura and John Arnold Foundation for their foresight and concern.  Preservation is vital –  and everyone – governments, companies, and people should be contributing to the Internet Archive for the common good.

Grant to Develop the Next Generation Wayback Machine, Wendy Hanamura, Internet Archive Blogs (Oct 21)

The Wayback Machine, a service used by millions to access 19 years of the Web’s history, is about get an update. When completed in 2017, the next generation Wayback Machine will have more and better webpages that are easier to find. The Internet Archive, with generous support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF), is re-building the Wayback Machine which currently offers access to 439+ billion Web captures including Web pages, video and images.

Resource list for researchers

The Helen Brown Group has constructed a page of Expert omnibus research sources: 10 of the best (Sept 24). These serve a variety of research interests – people, businesses, finance, philanthropy. A master list of resources picked by experts and practitioners is always an excellent starting point and reference. However, not all will be absolutely uptodate. For example, the Aspire Research Group’s collection still includes Google Reader. Pick and choose as you can to develop your own list.

US Digital Libraries and Archives

Scout Report picked up a listing of digital libraries and archives in the United States posted to iLibrarian in 2013.

250+ Killer Digital Libraries and Archives, Elyssa Kroski, March 2013

It would have been a mammoth undertaking to track these down. The list is an excellent starting point for seeing the breadth and nature of these digital libraries and seeking out materials related to history of the United States.

The Scout Report posting (June 5, 2015) recommended it with these words — ” For researchers looking for new resources or readers who love browsing archives, this resource from iLibrarian will open up a world of documents, archival footage an photographs, and primary texts.”

Elyssa Kroski was the “iLibrarian” who curated this and several other excellent collections during her time at OEDB – but no more. She posted her farewell message in November 2014. digital collection has been expanding its digital collection. works with a coalition of Canadian libraries, museums and archives to preserve “Canada’s documentary heritage”. Creates Online Treasure Trove of Historical Documents – Canada’s History Comes Online. CNW (May 11) [Press Release}

“Chronicling the people and institutions that shaped Canadian history from the 1600s to the mid-1900s, the digital collection is already of major value for researchers. The majority is available free of charge: from school children, their teachers, family historians, and genealogists, to scholars in a wide variety of fields. Other content is available at a nominal fee, to help defray the hefty preservation costs.”

For the Birds

Northern Mockingbird Songbird

Northern Mockingbird Songbird (Source: Pixabay)

Bird populations are in alarming decline – songbirds especially – as we see in CBC’s Nature of Things program on SongbirdSOS (March 2015). We have lost nearly half of songbirds in the last 50 years. The episode is available online along with supplementary information on what action we can take.

There are several excellent websites for learning more about birds – whether aspects of birding through field guides and tutorials, or the urgent need today to protect birds and their habitat.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a good starting point for bird lovers of every age and knowledge level – especially its section on All About Birds. The main Cornell website also has tutorials, news, and videos for free viewing, and some learning resources for sale.

Audubon is all about birds and birding – news, projects, magazine, conservation, advocacy. It provides THE Field Guide to North American birds. Those in the United States can join a local Audubon chapter.

Bird Studies Canada advances “the understanding, appreciation and conservation of Canada’s wild birds and their habitats.” BSC is based in Port Rowan in Ontario and has regional offices across Canada. It issues a monthly e-newsletter, the quarterly Bird Watch Canada, and occassional studies. The newsletter will keep you informed of events, surveys, new studies, and opportunities for volunteering.

eBird Canada partners with Bird Studies Canada to provide a means for participants to record their bird observations through a real-time, online checklist program.

Boreal Songbird Initiative focuses on protecting the North American Boreal forest for birds and wildlife. The boreal forest in Canada’s north is “North America’s bird nursery” that are essential for migratory birds. The BSI aim is to conserve at least 50% of this forest. It is currently running a program to gain widespread support for Boreal Birds Need Half.

I hope that this short resource list will help us all appreciate birds more and do what we can to halt the population decline.