For Your Listening Pleasure: History Conversations

A few years back I had the bright idea to launch a second podcast (Digital Campus being the first). It languished. In fact, I only ever managed to record three episodes. The last one was recorded in February 2008.

It’s time to retire the website, but I don’t want to lose what I believe is some valuable content, especially the conversation I had with friends shortly after Roy’s death. So, here it is. The entire run of History Conversations, “an occasional dialogue with historians and history lovers about their interests, their ideas, and their lives in history,” in a single post.


Hello, World

In this pre-inaugural episode of History Conversations, Tom tests out his software and explains a little of the rationale behind the show. Join us in a couple weeks for our first conversation.

Running time: 4:41
Download the .mp3
[audio:http://foundhistory.org/audio/hc_0.mp3]


Episode 1 – Peter Liebhold

Tom kicks off the podcast with a conversation with Peter Liebhold, Chair and Curator of the Division of Work and Industry at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Tom asks Peter about his daily work at the Museum, his straight and not-so-straight road into history, and the role of public history … and pledges not to go another four months between episodes.

Running time: 29:29
Download the .mp3
[audio:http://foundhistory.org/audio/hc_1.mp3]


Episode 2 – Roy Rosenzweig, In Memoriam

In Episode 2 we remember Roy Rosenzweig, friend, colleague and pioneer in all manner of public history. Guests Mike O’Malley (co-founder of the Center for History and New Media and Associate Professor of History at George Mason University), Steve Brier (Vice President for Information Technology and External Programs at the CUNY Graduate Center and co-founder the American Social History Project), and Josh Brown (Executive Director of the American Social History Project and Professor of History in the Ph.D. program at the CUNY Graduate Center) join Tom for a conversation about Roy’s life, work, and long commitment to democratizing history.

Running time: 32:22
Download the .mp3
[audio:http://foundhistory.org/audio/hc_2.mp3]


Episode 3 – A Look Back at Braddock

This month the volunteer historians of the Look Back at Braddock project join Tom for a conversation about the challenges and opportunities posed by local history. Located near the center of Fairfax County, Virginia, Braddock District has changed rapidly in the 20th century, and members of the community have taken it upon themselves to document the changes. Working largely without funding, John Browne, Mary Lipsey, Gil Donahue, and their colleagues have produced a rich oral history collection, a successful book, and a new website. What does it take for a group of committed amateurs to launch and sustain a multi-year history project and what keeps them going? Find out here in Episode 3 of History Conversations.

Running time: 31:42
Download the .mp3
[audio:http://foundhistory.org/audio/hc_3.mp3]

Briefly Noted for June 12, 2008

Geek meme: Command line history. For about a month during the spring, geeks everywhere were using

history|awk ‘{a[$2]++} END{for(i in a){printf “%5dt%s n”,a[i],i}}’|sort -rn|head

to post their top ten most used shell commands to the interwebs.

Samuel Pepys on Twitter. Good idea, but doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I have enjoyed the Pepys Diary blog over the years, and I’d like to see it done in 140 characters or less.

A few months ago I recorded an interview with UC Santa Barbara professor, Claudio Fogu for an article he is preparing for History and Theory. Over the course of an hour or so, Claudio and I discussed the September 11 Digital Archive, the history of CHNM, and other topics of possible interest to Found History readers. Claudio has kindly allowed me to post the full audio of the interview. I can’t wait to see the article.

[audio:http://foundhistory.org/audio/fogu_interview.mp3]

THAT Podcast

I just finished watching the inaugural episode of THAT Podcast (“The Humanities and Technology Podcast”), the new video podcast from CHNM creative lead, Jeremy Boggs and CHNM web developer, Dave Lester. Wow. Considering Jeremy and Dave’s technical chops, I wasn’t surprised at the excellent production values. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at the quality of the discussion, either. Jeremy and Dave are both deep and wide-ranging thinkers and practitioners of digital humanities, and THAT Podcast reflects their depth and range. In this first episode, Jeremy and Dave discuss the popular blogging platform, WordPress and its applications for teaching, research, and presentation of results. The podcast starts with an interview with Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress and Web 2.0 wunderkind. Jeremy and Dave follow the interview with a brief hands-on introduction to ScholarPress Courseware, a plugin for WordPress they developed to make building attractive course websites quick and easy. I’m using it this semester in my Introduction to Western Civilization: Science & Society course, and so far I am very pleased.

I’m sure many Found History readers are also subscribers to Digital Campus. As I score it, however, it’s THAT Podcast, 3 – Digital Campus, 0. Not only did Jeremy and Dave score an amazing and hard-to-get interview for their first episode, they’re using video as well as audio, and they’re providing practical instruction in digital humanities rather than the usual chatter you get from the Digital Campus gang. Nice job, guys.

Digital Campus Update

The Digital Campus podcast rolls on. In recent episodes Dan, Mills and I discuss how to stay productive in a world of constant digital distractions; the pros and cons of moderated listservs vs. less mediated forms of scholarly communication such as blogs and social networking sites; the proper relationship between a museum’s virtual and physical manifestations; and issues of privacy in educational technology. It’s a lot of fun, and very often informative. Let me know what you think and if you have any topics you’d like covered in future episodes.

History Conversations

Well, nearly four months after it launched, I have finally managed to record and post the first real episode of History Conversations, this blog’s sister podcast. Episode 1 kicks off with a conversation with Peter Liebhold, Chair and Curator of the Division of Work and Industry at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Tom asks Peter about his daily work at the Museum, his straight and not-so-straight road into history, and the role of public history.

Click here to subscribe.

Podcast Roundup

I haven’t mentioned our Digital Campus podcast since Episode 2 in March, but Mills, Dan and I are still going strong. In my opinion, the last few shows have been among our best, featuring guests Jeremy Boggs and Bill Turkel in Episode 6 and Episode 7 respectively and an extended discussion of training for digital humanists in the newly released Episode 8. Ken Albers also continues to post highlights from the oral history interviews we have done with key figures in Mozilla and Firefox in the Mozilla Digital Memory Bank Podcast. This week’s episode is especially interesting, featuring a conversation with Blake Ross, the wunderkind of Firefox’s early development. Finally—proving that I’ve become thoroughly addicted to this podcasting thing—I’d like announce the launch of my new show, History Conversations, “an occasional dialogue with historians and history lovers about their interests, their ideas, and their lives in history.” In its pre-inaugural Episode 0, I test out my software and explain a little of the rationale behind the show. Fascinating stuff. My first real conversation will appear shortly in Episode 1. A search of the iTunes Music Store for “History Conversations” should turn up the feed, or you can subscribe directly using your favorite podcatcher.

Podcasts

If you haven’t subscribed already, Episode 2 of Digital Campus (“The Old and the YouTube”) is now available for your listening pleasure. Dan, Mills, and I chat about YouTube, Wikipedia, the Byzantine Empire, Cambodian wi-fi, and other hot topics in the world of digital humanities. Also ready for download from CHNM is Episode 4 of the Mozilla Digital Memory Bank Podcast, featuring excerpts from an interview with Mike Beltzner. Enjoy!

Digital Campus

dctv.jpg This is also somewhat off topic, but I’m very pleased to announce the launch of Digital Campus, a new biweekly podcast that explores how digital media and technology are affecting learning, teaching, and scholarship at colleges, universities, libraries, and museums. Come listen to Dan Cohen, Mills Kelly, and I talk about the launch of Windows Vista, the rise of Google Docs, and recent stories about Blackboard in our first episode. At the end of the show, we share links to the best free wiki software and sites on digital maps and books.

Subscribe to Digital Campus via iTunes or another subscription service at http://digitalcampus.tv

What is a Museum?

This one comes from Found History reader Tim, who wanted to hear my thoughts on NPR’s recent story about the Museum of Online Museums (MOOM), a directory of online collections. Aside from being a treasure trove of found history, MOOM raises the question—at least for NPR’s editors—of what constitutes a museum. Should we or should we not call MOOM’s listings “museums”?

Arguing the affirmative is Jim Coudal, one of MOOM’s founders, who points to one of two definitions of “museum” in Webster’s dictionary: “a place where objects are exhibited.” Arguing the negative, is Wilson O’Donnell, director of the museology program at the University of Wasington, who says that calling MOOM’s listings “museums” is “like calling Wikipedia an encylopedia.” I actually take issue with both lines of reasoning, but ultimately I come down on the side of Coudal and MOOM.

You could say that Coudal and O’Donnell make converse mistakes. On the one hand, Coudal employs a definition that is too vague and too broad and leaves the museum without a distinct identity. If anyplace that displays objects is a museum, then we should consider department stores, the Home Shopping Network, the fun house at the county fair, the row of expensive whiskeys behind the bar, the auto show, and a million other things “museums.” Historians of museums know that our modern notion of the museum was born out of a 19th century “exhibitionary culture” that included things like World’s Fairs and department stores, as well as museums. But no one mistakes Macy’s for the Met.

O’Donnell, on the other hand, makes the opposite mistake, attempting to reify and dehistoricize the museum. In fact, things called “museums” have been around in one form or another for 400 years, and for most of that time they have borne little resemblance to our modern museums. I’m not sure whether it is Wikipedia’s amateurism or its unfamiliar digital format that irks O’Donnell, but the truth is that for much of their history, museums were both largely amateur endeavors and existed in formats that would be unfamiliar to us today. Many of the great European museums (the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers museums in Oxford are good examples) were founded as private collections in private homes and were organized around criteria and displayed in formats that today would seem very foreign indeed.

For my part, I’d pick Webster’s second definition: “an institution devoted to the procurement, care, study, and display of objects of lasting interest or value.” I probably have to think about this more, but to me it’s not the simple act of display, nor is it “professionalism,” that makes something a museum. Rather it is the collection and display of stuff with a preservative intent and historical mindset that makes a museum. That is, by my definition, MOOM’s “museums” are really museums … and all museums are pieces of found history.

Apologies to Tim for the long delay in answering his very good question.