Jenny Reeder

The Digital Lion Hunt
September 26, 2006, 6:12 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I remember playing the game “Going on a Lion Hunt” when I was a kid. I loved the simulation of a safari hunter going through different areas of the jungle in search of a lion, making noises like being stuck in the mud, swishing through the savannah grass with my hands, and verbalizing repetitively “I’m not afraid.”

Doing history research in the twenty-first century is a whole new hunt with digital technology and a plethora of resources available. Online resources open new horizons by increasing information in amazing and exciting ways. Lyman’s article, “How Much Information? Executive Summary” recaps the consistent growth of digital information. Turkel’s blog, “Methodology for the Infinite Archive” echoes the explosion of information. Turkel raises an important implication: the importance of new skills needed to deal with available information. Turkel speaks from the tech’s point of view–as a producer rather than a consumer–when he talkes about the need to configure new metadata, to write programs that search, spider, scrape, and mine, and to create bots, agents, and mechanical turks. As well, Cohen lists two ways in particular to disseminate the information, particularly with syllabus finders and similar programs of text extraction, and H-bots to find relevant documents, interpret questions, and analyze text.

As history producers find new and exciting ways to present history, history consumers must find new ways to actually find history. I loved Turkel’s blog, “Teaching Young Historians to Search, Spider and Scrape.” While perhaps history methodologies haven’t changed, research methodologies take us into an entirely different world. Spidering and scraping are things that we must learn how to do and teach others how to do. Mary Ellen Bates makes a good attempt in her search tactics, but we must make consistent efforts to teach students, clients, and web users how to take advantage of new search capabilities. It’s like taking the lion hunt into an entirely different dimension with much more than sounds made by our own mouths and actions by our own hands. We just have to learn how and take others on the hunt.


1 Comment so far
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agree man

Comment by garyD

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