History through the Back Door

Scott Berg and Richard White really expanded my perspective on the nature of history and how it is viewed, researched, evaluated, and discussed.  Richard White made an interesting point about most of history involves tracking changes over time using chronology as the structure that conveys these changes.  Using the new structure of spatial relationships to understand how humans’ relationships with each other and the landscape evolve through time added a whole new dimension to the study of history.  Reading about all the work done by Dan Hawkins and his work to discover the original topography and layout of Washington, D.C. and then see it condensed and packaged in the video by Dan Bailey caused several reactions for me.  At first I felt betrayed on behalf of Dan Hawkins to have his work distilled into a short interpretation of all his research into a short digital interpretation.  However, after really getting into the video I saw how much value technology added to the historical research making it accessible, easy to understand, and useful.  Reading and looking at all of Hawkins’ maps never would have conveyed what the video could; a visual document of changing spatial relationships.  Although I consider myself somewhat of a Luddite, I am really getting excited about using technology to enhance our perception and understanding of the past.

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