Blogging (30% of grade)

Blogging forms one core component of the course. Not only will you be learning about public history, you’ll be actively doing digital public history. That means engaging with the public, so a significant amount of the course communication will happen on your blogs. Ideally before our first meeting, you will sign up with an account at Reclaim Hosting (you’ll pay for this service in lieu of purchasing textbooks) and set up a WordPress blog. If you need help setting this up, we can go over setting up your blog the first day of class.

These are blog posts, and should not be written as though they were term papers. Your goal is to become familiar with the genre of thoughtful blogging: to say something interesting, synthesize thoughts, and publish. Ideally, you will briefly summarize what the readings or tools say or do, comment on your insights of the readings, and conclude with an invitation to discussion. Posts for a given week must be published to the web at least one day before our Thursday class meeting (i.e., Tuesday by midnight) to give everyone time to read and reflect before class.

Relatedly, having your own blog means cultivating your online identity. You should be building a web presence for yourself outside the confines of Facebook, Twitter, or university services. David Parry has even suggested that you either “be online or be irrelevant.” I would encourage you to use your real name for your site, but I also realize there are good reasons to remain anonymous or pseudo-anonymous, so you may also use a nom de plume if you prefer. If you have serious objections to sharing your work online, please email me or meet with me after class. I believe our public presence is important, both to this course and to digital public history as a whole, but I will make every effort to accommodate anyone who needs a different arrangement.

Blogging overview:
  • Weekly reading reflections. Each week a day before Thursday’s class (Tuesdays before midnight), you will post on the week’s readings. I expect more than just a summary of the readings. Think about the kinds of questions they raised for you, the themes and issues that emerged across the readings, and how those readings might relate to the previous week’s readings.
  • Project proposal blog post (due on or before October 27)
  • Project reflection blog post (due on or before December 9)
Blogging grading:
Points Category Description
4 ✓+ Meets all guidelines, and includes specific examples and page references.
2-3 Meets all guidelines, but lacks specificity.
1 ✓- Completes assignment but content is lacking or incomplete; or does not complete all guidelines.
0 n/a Incomplete or missing assignment; inaccurate or inappropriate material.

Class participation (30% of grade)

Come to class prepared to discuss the texts and share ideas about the readings and digital tools or methods you worked with over the course of the week. Participation points are determined by your contribution to the discussion, in addition to the discussion questions you submit to the course blog. Doing careful readings of the texts, raising questions about what you’ve read, and contributing thoughtfully to class discussion will ensure success. Your class participation grade includes your public presentations. In Week 8 and Week 9 you will be presenting on your research. In Week 10 you will present to the class your progress on your digital project. In Week 11 we will hold a public electronic poster session on our digital projects in Lathrop Library.

Class participation overview:
  • Lead a discussion on a set of readings: What are the arguments of the readings you blogged about? How do they work together or challenge one another? Come prepared with questions to keep the conversation going.
  • Class attendance and active participation in class discussion. Notify me in advance if you’ll be missing class; missing more than two classes will significantly impact your participation grade.

Digital history exhibit (40% of grade)

We will be working in a platform called Curatescape for this course and contributing to the digital history project Silicon Valley Historical. This project will serve as the core of the entire class. Rather than focus too deeply on the technology, we will instead focus on the content of a digital public history project. You will complete a spatial historical exhibit using digital methods we cover in the course to approach the history of Silicon Valley. Perhaps you are interested in understanding the architectural styles of high technology industrial campuses, or the lives of Ohlone people in the Bay Area. You are free to come up with a topic of your own choosing, or consult a growing list of ideas to find a topic or generate new ones.

The final project should be substantial and engage with both the history and methods learned in the course. If your project focuses on a person, for example, don’t just recount their life. Thoughtfully examine their contribution to the history of Silicon Valley, analyze and interpret the historical evidence, and draw interpretations and conclusions that historicize their place in the Valley’s history. The final project is due the day after the electronic poster session on December 9.

Digital history exhibit overview:
  • Use of local historical archives. You will create at least five to ten new digital objects, including digitization of the object and its associated metadata. These objects must come from the Stanford University Archives. You can choose to pursue archives outside of Stanford, but please speak to me first since we will need to establish a relationship and agreement with new contributing archives.
  • You must create at least five stories and one tour. The stories must be substantive, at least 400 words for each story, researched and documented with evidence. The tour can be made of your five stories, or a mix of yours and someone else’s. The tour should be at least five stories, and the description should be one paragraph (100–200 words).