HistoryCommons

November 22, 2011

Proposing New Research Topics

Filed under: community,new project — Max @ 11:56 pm

New Topic Listing

There’s a new page for History Commons contributors, users, and friends. Check it out and see if any of the proposed new topics interests you. If you have an idea for something not on this list, post it here!

September 11, 2011

Presentations w/Elevate‚Äôs Daniel Erlacher

Filed under: community,History Commons 2.0 — Max @ 2:39 pm
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Just finished a Skype presentation with Daniel Erlacher in Graz, Austria. Daniel runs the annual Elevate Festival in that lovely town, and is a huge HC supporter. I spoke for about 15 minutes on HC in general and our 9/11 coverage in specific. Kevin Fenton also did a presentation a bit earlier. I’ll let him discuss that.

What I’d really like to see is a more “international” presence for HC. We are very US-oriented, with the vast majority of our coverage focusing on events that primarily impact the US in one sense or another. (Two exceptions that come to mind are the Kosovar Albanian and European Football projects.)

We need more international coverage. I’d also like to see a version of HC in, say, German, either using our information in a translated form, and/or a version incorporating German-language original research.

Cross-posted at the History Commons Groups blog.

April 15, 2011

History Commons Is Changing its Updates….

Filed under: community,History Commons 2.0 — Max @ 12:01 pm

Hi, Commons community,

You haven’t seen an email update from us in a while. That’s because there haven’t been any. I won’t go into they whys, except they center mostly around personal and family issues that have precluded the admins (i.e. me) from getting them done. And they’re not coming back! At least not in the way they have been….

Find out more at the History Commons Groups blog: http://wp.me/phFo6-tg

December 9, 2010

Documenting Wikileaks for HC

Filed under: community,new project — Max @ 9:41 pm

I assume you’re familiar with the Wikileaks controversy. The History Commons takes no position on the truth or falsehood of the array of allegations leveled at Wikileaks, Julian Assange, or the quality and effect of the material it has disclosed. What we’re interested in is covering it. If you’re interested in covering the material that the organization has made available, or if you’re interested in covering the facts behind the controversy and the reaction against Wikileaks from the numerous governments that are trying to muzzle it, we’d love to hear from you. Post here if you’d like to take a shot at some coverage.

September 10, 2010

The Votes Are In!

Filed under: community,History Commons 2.0,site redesign — Max @ 9:56 pm

Okay, the votes are in, and it’s an interesting set of results and comments.

To the question, “Do you feel the History Commons is an inaccessible ‘walled garden’?” the votes are as follows:

Yes: 13
No: 58

That’s over 80% of respondents who don’t feel the History Commons is a “walled garden.” Here are some of the comments, reproduced from the poll results at PollDaddy:

“Tenstring” writes: “I would just say that the website is very raw, that is it’s just basically a collection of data — and that’s probably good. People can come and follow the timelines and come to their own conclusions. It would open a can of worms to provide analysis, although I wouldn’t be against it. It would certainly potentially complicate things, though.” Agreed. We weren’t suggesting analysis, you can get that just about anywhere and in any flavor, from hard-right to hard-left and anywhere in between. That has never been what HC is about. JZ disagrees with the idea that the Commons is “just basically a collection of data,” and has some very nice things to say about HC stacking up well against Wikipedia “in regards to value from the interconnections it reveals due to its format.” I agree with that 100%; it’s one reason why I write for the Commons instead of Wikipedia. HC contributor Erik Larson writes that HC offers “great insight into the big picture and small details are available from MSM and govt reports, but they are often ignored by the majority of pols and pundits, and missed by the general public, as they may be buried deep in the reports, at the ends of articles or on the inner pages, or only reported by a single news outlet, or only make sense in context with other information, which is not provided by MSM journalists; this is what historycommons.org does so well, and the org deserves greater attention.” Rick Mason sums it up well: “I always considered CCR as an information gathering site with verified and accurate contributions from responsible journalists. It’s where I go when I wish to make sure I’m talking about facts, not rumors. It would be great if it were interactive.”

Commentator Kevin Boulton recommends a program like Visual Thesaurus to “visually link” some of the events on the HC projects; we have considered something like this, and while I’m personally not sure VT is itself the solution, there are some very, very good visual information organizers out there that I’d love to see implemented as corollaries to our existing projects. JZ recommends looking at visual organizers such as The Brain, and steers us towards a TED video by David McCandless. The Brain looks terrific at first glance, and the video is very informative. I would welcome further discussion along these lines.

JZ asks about HC having “its own forum that is part of the site but not simply a commenting system for each entry which I think would fragment the feedback,” and recommends something along the lines of the Citizen Investigation Team forum. I would love to see such a forum implemented. If anyone has any ideas about implementing — and hosting and moderating! — such a forum, please let us know.

Overall, I find the responses heartening. We originally conceived of the idea of “History Commons 2.0” as essentially revamping the application and redesigning the site to be more user-friendly, along with adding some more interactive features. We’ve come to see that approach as lacking a fundamental understanding of what the History Commons is. As I wrote in a working draft for the HC staff: “History Commons 2.0 is not a revised app and a redone design, it’s a new community of contributors and participants.” The app will grow out of the needs and participation of the community, not the other way around. Discussions like this one are the first steps in growing a new and vibrant History Commons community. Let’s extend it by talking over some of the points above in the comments.

July 24, 2010

New Contributors’ Resources Page

Filed under: community — Max @ 3:14 pm
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We’ve put together a one-stop link to all the resources available for History Commons contributors. The page includes the “Entries for ‘Dummies’,” a Content and Copy Editing guide, walkthroughs, style manuals, links to writing resources, and more.

If you have suggestions as to what should be added to this list, post them below. Thanks!

November 14, 2009

A Perfect Quote for the History Commons

Filed under: community — Max @ 8:55 pm
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Well, at least in my opinion. I came across it in the introduction to Sean Wilentz’s The Age of Reagan, but it’s originally from a 1984 tome by Theodore Draper. Draper wrote:

I have written for the reader who was no longer interested in the daily or even weekly ration of news; this reader wanted to understand it in some organized form and some historical perspective. No doubt the organization and perspective would change as time went on and more information or insight became available. Life cannot wait, however, for historians to gather enough evidence to satisfy them or to make up their minds once they get it. Even a preliminary organization and perspective represent an advance, however provisional. We must make do with what we have while it is still possible to do something about the matter.

Naturally, I do not contend that I or anyone else on the Commons is fit to carry the pencil cases of Wilentz or Draper, two of our generation’s most eminent historians. But I think Draper’s words fit our raison d’etre very nicely, with one important difference: we don’t wait for historians, either ourselves or others, to make judgments and present them to the public. We provide the information and let the public make its own judgments, based on the best and most complete information we can present.

(Cross-posted at the History Commons Group blog.)

August 25, 2009

We’re back on the air….

Filed under: community — Max @ 9:27 pm
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The new server is being cantankerous, so we’ve decided to continue updating the site on the old server until we can get it to cooperate. We’ll keep you posted as to how things are going, but for now, new material is being added again.

August 22, 2009

Why No New Entries?

Filed under: community,History Commons 2.0 — Max @ 1:19 pm
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History Commons hasn’t added a new entry in three days. What gives?

We haven’t all gone on vacation. Instead, we’re in the process of moving the entire site to a new server. Hopefully, the move will save us some much-needed bucks (more of your contributions can go to bettering the site and less to simply hosting it). As with all things of this nature, there have been some holdups getting it up and running, so the site is on “hold” while we solve the problems.

It won’t be long before the site is publishing new and vibrant material. Keep checking back!

July 19, 2009

Reordering the Projects

Filed under: community — Max @ 11:32 am

You might notice that the projects on the main project (timelines) page have been reordered. We did that to push the more frequently used and more current projects towards the top. Let us know if this works better (or worse) for you. Thanks!

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