And so we come to the end of a long road of digital historical thoughts and discussions. It was my first foray into public history. It was also my first time giving myself the time and attention to seriously contemplating all this new stuff we're moving towards at a very quick pace. Some lessons popped out more to me than others, and we've come a long way. I thought I would say adieu to the program by reflecting again on some of the highlights of the semester, idea-wise, and reflect on how they will shape me as a historian, both public and private.
This was really early in the term, but we had a very productive conversation on the nature of education, especially online. I made a blog post pitching an entirely new paradigm of teaching online courses. I have thought about this a little since, and I think that this is something worth investing in.
My dossier of projects is big, but I have put on the back-burner the idea of developing some of the ideas I had in this blog post when I am a programmer, or after my PhD. I think that if I could develop and test some new software for education, selling it to school boards might be less of a mess. In the mean time, I am keeping my eye out for pedagogical activities that would move us from the Prussian model and create an education more customized, tailored, and better for individual students.
You solve that puzzle and I think there's a Nobel prize for you or something.
We did a fun field trip tot he Sustainable Archaeology collection. What struck me about our visit is the interesting puzzle of purchasing hardware with the demands of Moore's Law. Further thinking has made me think about these technologies of scanning, printing, and maintaining and the two made me really think of something that I am debating now.
Why are Humans doing this?
Hear me out here, but I see with advancing technology, and ever growing collections of digitized archives, maybe sites like sustainable archaeology in the medium term future might be predominantly maintained by sophisticated AIs and robotic staff. They don't shed skin, they don't typically drop things, and could simply be upgraded with new pieces without new training. Maybe archaeologists in the future will put our artifacts into automated depositories where they are stored, and then recalled as 3D replicas whenever we want to interact with one. I am kinda back and forth on this, as technology in this area improves. I'd look forward to what others think.
Augmented reality was a large part of the course. I wrote that while we are close to the technology needed to make it a big deal, it is still just before the finish line right now. The powerful image processing, and miniaturization of technology needed for it to really take off is daunting!
We do however have an intermediate phase that we might not have considered when AR was hyped a few years ago. Tethered systems. This seems to be what the AR of the 2016 wave to be. Things like Hololens are coming fairly soon, and they would be an augmented reality that works in the home. I can picture that the silly glasses, and computing power needed can both work if integrated into the home. We can then worry about the portable stuff in the future. I also did just find out this morning that Google filed a patent for a new AR device that is the successor to the Google Glass called Aura. Worth checking out.
The podcast project was a fun way to make something together as a team. So far the shows have been really good, and I like the different approaches people have been taking to it. As someone who has made something in three digits of them in my life, I have to say it is the format we all waited for. Think of it, spoken word entertainment is having a renaissance, and I think this is one of the great examples of simple technologies allowing to make the old new again. Like when radio and television were new, we still replicate a lot of the stuff of our past.
We are however starting to change as podcasts find new ways to monetize, and adapt. I think that some very creative people will make the field go in some crazy directions soon, and move beyond the talk shows, audio books, and radio programs we're doing now. Where that is is as much a surprise to me as you. I like it because podcasts are limited only by creativity, which is exciting.
The project was a... humbling experience. My research into what games are, how to do gaming projects, and making things for kids has not yielded a working prototype. I think this project's takeaway is the feeling that while I bounce ideas around a lot, I am still such a neophyte in the field of getting things done with software. I need way more education on programming to make even a simple project work. It's sad, but I think putting me in my place was necessary.
Gaming, simulation, and history
Lastly I want to talk about the concepts behind what I tried to do with the project, and our discussion on history gaming. I am fairly convinced that gaming is best when it is making what we consider work a fun activity. My project attempted to make a game of the process of researching through primary sources, in order to unearth a narrative. It would teach children how history actually happens, while still telling a story and being a fun experience. BTW this is really hard.
Lastly, I wanted to give some last thoughts on my CK2 article. I think that even though it works in counterfactuals, the themes of history, testing the probabilities, agencies, and inequalities that history creates makes Paradoxes run of games a really great for teaching. You learn without feeling you're being taught.
To close, I think I came away feeling more dynamic and humble about my future. There is still a long way to go, but if anything the emerging technologies will challenge almost all rules of convention we have now, and encourage us to explore possibilities outside of previous experience. We really have very little to gather about the past for what we're facing, which is both liberating and terrifying.