Writing History in the Digital Age began as a “what-if” experiment by posing a question: How have Internet technologies influenced how historians think, teach, author, and publish? To illustrate their answer, the contributors agreed to share the stages of their book-in-progress as it was constructed on the public web.
To facilitate this innovative volume, editors Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki designed a born-digital, open-access, and open peer review process to capture commentary from appointed experts and general readers. A customized WordPress plug-in allowed audiences to add page- and paragraph-level comments to the manuscript, transforming it into a socially networked text. The initial six-week proposal phase generated over 250 comments, and the subsequent eight-week public review of full drafts drew 942 additional comments from readers across different parts of the globe.
The finished product now presents 20 essays from a wide array of notable scholars, each examining (and then breaking apart and reexamining) if and how digital and emergent technologies have changed the historical profession.
Jack Dougherty is Associate Professor of educational studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is collaborating with students and colleagues on a public history web-book titled On The Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and Its Suburbs, which has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Kristen Nawrotzki is Lecturer at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, and Senior Research Fellow in the Early Childhood Research Centre at the University of Roehampton in London, United Kingdom.