Writing History in the Digital Age Reflection

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In “The Historian’s Craft, Popular Memory, and Wikipedia,” Robert Wolff explores the changes in creating and distributing history during the digital age. He uses Wikipedia as a main example that reflects this growing blend between history and memory. Wikipedia provides a space where anyone (with or without credentials) can publish their interpretations on historical events. Wolff emphasizes the interpretation aspect of such Wikipedia pages because they are more often drawn from people’s bias rather than objective facts. Wikipedia, at most, is a good source in exploring how history ties to memory. This provides potential in creating new historical approaches that focus on how memory shapes history.

An example on memory shaping history on Wikipedia can be seen in Saxton’s article titled, “Wikipedia and Women’s History: A Classroom Experience.” In most historical interpretations, women and their participation in historical events are largely ignored. Their experiences were seen as trivial and therefore marginalized from the larger historical narrative. Since people’s memories are based off historical interruptions that neglect the importance of women, Wikipedia pages reflect such constructed historical understandings. It has come to a point that women’s history is a separate category from the other categories of history. It would make more sense if historical pages reflected the whole experience-encompassing race, gender, class, and other factors-rather than highlighting the voices of certain groups of individuals (usually the elites).

For our research, I will take into account the play of memory on history. Since most of our sources are newspaper articles, diary entries, and oral histories, it is important to be aware of the bias that influence such understandings of events and the past.

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