Archive for the ‘History and Technology’ Category

Field notes

1 November 2011

By Juliana Adelman

My dad recently sent me a kind of odd little book entitled Field Notes on Science and Nature.  The book is a compilation of essays on the form, history and importance of field notes to which are added several examples of field notes.  As the title suggest, the field notes in question are of those of scientific naturalists.  The arrival was timely, since I am today beginning my participation in the Mass Observation Dublin 2011 project.  The book got me thinking about the obvious ways in which our recording of information has changed dramatically, not only in form but in substance.  The substance of what we record is affected by the forms we use to record it.  The contributors to Field Notes argued for the importance of recording by hand, of making drawings as a part of observation and of keeping records of information in an open-minded way.  They suggested that natural history students should try to be a bit more like Darwin and a bit less reliant on digital media.  It made me stop to wonder what a historian’s field note book might look like?  How many of you still take notes on paper or do you take them all on laptops?  What kinds of notes do you take on paper and what kinds on computers?  Archaeologists, geographers and art historians might find that they still use visual means of recording from sketches to digital photographs.  I know that I often take photographs to record texts for later transcription, or occasionally to remember visual aspects of a manuscript or book.  But on the whole, I don’t see too many historians with sketchbooks. Read more

Irish history and historians on Wikipedia

14 July 2011

By Juliana Adelman

A few years ago some historians of science decided that they ought to embrace Wikipedia.  Instead of worrying about whether it was accurate, they were going to use their expertise to try to make it as accurate as possible for topics within their expertise.  There is a special Wiki devoted to this process which you can see here.  If you are anything like me, you tend to use Wikipedia to look up things that you know nothing about.  They tend not to be topics associated with your research, but more things that you are curious about.  Wikipedia, used with a very large pinch of salt, can sometimes point the way to finding reliable sources.  If you do any teaching you quickly realise that students view it in a similar way. They use Wikipedia to look up things that they don’t know anything about.  The problem is, what they don’t know anything about is probably their essay topic.  It may sound radical, but I think it’s time that we embraced Wikipedia and just tried to improve it.  Maybe if we added appropriate references to books then people would go and look at them, too. Read More

The Irish Landed Estates Database

12 July 2011

Contributed by Joanne McEntee

One could be forgiven for supposing that the contemporary terms ‘ghost estates’ or ‘abandoned estates’ merely exist as part of the historic nomenclature of the now defunct world of operating Irish landed estates. Yet the ghost estates of yesteryear are now as visible and accessible to the public as their twenty-first century brethren thanks to the recent launch of the Munster Landed Estates Database. Complementing the already existing Connacht database and maintained by the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies, National University of Ireland, Galway, the Landed Estates Database provides a comprehensive and integrated resource guide to landed estates and historic houses in Connacht and Munster, c. 1700-1914. Seeking to assist and support researchers working on social, economic, political and cultural Irish history, this user-friendly website should not confound even those claiming not to be au fait with the rapidly expanding world of digitization. The fact alone that the website records over 4500 houses and provides images for approximately half of those bears testament to the Trojan work of the researchers Marie Boran and Brigid Clesham in undertaking such a monumental task. Read More

Celebrating two years of Pue’s Occurrences, and a new address

28 April 2011

From the editors

If you can believe it – because we certainly can’t – it’s been nearly two years since the Pue’s Occurrences collective made its first contributions to the blogosphere. To celebrate, from today Pue’s is moving to a new – and simpler – address: But don’t fret; there’ll be no change to your usual historical service. Just update your bookmarks/favourites/Google Reader and RSS settings (if, indeed, you use any of the above) accordingly to continue to receive our regular postings from the world of history. And don’t worry if it slips your mind – typing into your browser or searching for ‘Pue’s’ in your favourite internet search engine will still bring you to us.

Public service announcements over, we should also tell you about some of the fun things we have lined up to celebrate our birthday over the next six weeks or so. First up is a special Pue’s contribution to RTÉ Radio 1’s The History Show. Tune in this Sunday evening, 1 May, between 6 and 7 pm, to hear us chat to Myles Dungan about the hows and whys of history online and give our recommendations for the best of what’s out there on the web – everything from Google Books to newspaper archives to Antarctic preservation and iTunesU! For those of you outside Ireland – or away from a radio on a bank holiday Sunday afternoon – you can catch it as a live stream from the RTÉ website or download the podcast from iTunes.

There will be plenty more to follow in the month of May: our individual reflections on being part of a vibrant online history community, our favourite reads, our most read posts, and much more. It’s our way of celebrating, thanking, and looking forward to hearing more from you, our readers, commenters and contributors who have made Pue’s such an interesting place over the past twenty-four months or so. Watch this space!

Learning Online

20 April 2011

By Christina Morin

Last Wednesday, there was an interesting piece in the Irish Times called ‘The University of YouTube’ by Edel Morgan. The idea behind the article was to ascertain whether ‘teaching yourself on the web [is] as effective as interacting in a classroom’. As part of the experiment, three individuals undertook three separate challenges designed to test the quality of online tutoring. Morgan’s husband, for instance, used an uploaded lesson by hairdresser-to-the-stars, Richard Ashforth, to learn how to reproduce that ever-so-difficult-to-achieve just-out-of-the-salon look. The result of his newly acquired blow-drying skills was, as Morgan herself admitted, pretty good. The two other challenges involved learning sign language and a sequence dance, with varying rates of success. Both of those challenges, in fact, concluded with mixed feelings towards online learning, suggesting that it could flesh out but not wholly replace classroom learning… which got me thinking about iTunes U, an enterprise that attempts to merge classroom and virtual learning by allowing individuals to access, among other things, lectures recorded by experts in their fields from a broad range of universities. Juliana has written about iTunes U before, emphasising its potential helpfulness in lecture preparation, but I had never explored it until Morgan’s Irish Times piece prompted me to wander through its virtual halls. Read more

A guide to labour history on the web

31 March 2011

Contributed by Brian Hanley

Most history courses taught in Irish universities tend to confine their studies of labour to the 1913 Lockout or as a way of explaining James Connolly and 1916. Jim Larkin may or not be mentioned again in passing later, but there remains a consensus that labour was marginal to the main story of Ireland in the 20th century. That 1919-22 were far more important years for labour than 1913, and that the labour movement was influential in terms of numbers and activity during the revolutionary era usually passes most people by. Professor Emmet O’Connor offers some thoughts on this here. (An updated edition of O’Connor’s A Labour History of Ireland is being re-published this year.)

Despite at times being seen as having a narrow focus, labour history is about more than trade union records, or strikes and lockouts, or left organisations (though it is of course about all those things). There is a growing appreciation of studies of work, family life, leisure, class (in both town and country) and ethnicity involved in labour history. These sites will give you some idea of this. As with most things on the internet, some have links that will lead you to even more interesting sites, and others have links that will lead you nowhere.

This is a very rough guide – there’s loads more and feel free to point them out!  Read More

Magazine of Magazines

23 March 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

Irish print culture and eighteenth century studies are soon to benefit from a fantastic Eighteenth Century Research Group (University of Limerick & Mary Immaculate College) digitization initiative. The project is two strands, the first to digitize the Magazine of Magazine’s, making it searchable and providing free access to the public. The Magazine of Magazines is a remarkable eighteenth-century miscellany which was written and published in Limerick (1751-1769) and which included literary and scientific reviews and information. The digitization is currently in process and the second strand consists of the creation of approximately 150 ‘interactive ebooks’ which will also have ‘informative annotations’ and that will not only be valuable for those studying the texts but will also be a useful teaching tool. This looks like it will be a fantastic resource when it is completed and will open up the intellectual life of Ireland and the eighteenth century for scholars of literary and scientific history.

Honest to blog: web legitimacy

26 January 2011

Last year Pue’s organised a one-day symposium on blogging with speakers from Come Here To Me, the Irish Left Archive, Ireland After NAMA, the Sligo Model Blog and History Compass Exchanges.  We’ve decided to do it again this spring on 4 March in the Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin.  The focus, as the title suggests, will be on the credibility of blogs.  We’re interpreting this widely to include credibility as information sources, as archives, as public outreach, as communicators of research and as teaching tools.  Programme to follow soon.  If you’d like to join us, please register through the symposium’s page.

9 of the best web resources for teaching history

17 January 2011

By Juliana Adelman

I have been doing more teaching in the past few years and have found an amazing number of resources online.  Some of them have been passed on through email lists or recommendations, but others have simply emerged from concentrated googling.  Although I found them useful for teaching, or thinking about teaching, many of them are also relevant to researchers.  Enjoy and feel free to add others in the comments.

1. Learning Historical Research.  This is an outstanding website, organised by the environmental historian William Cronon, which targets undergrads but has tips and reminders that even the most seasoned researcher might find useful.  It might be particularly useful if you are supervising a dissertation or conducting a class which requires primary research. Read more

Great History Blogging

15 November 2010

By Kevin O’Sullivan

A quick post on this frosty Monday morning to highlight the vitality of the wider blogging community that Pue’s forms part of. I noticed over the weekend that the Cliopatria Awards, run by the US-based History News Network, are open for nominations for 2010. The list of past winners is a great showcase for the depth of quality history writing on the web, and a good starting point for anyone just dipping their toes into the world of academic blogging. Anyone can nominate in any of the six categories (best group blog, best individual blog, best newcomer, best post, best series of posts, best writer), so if there’s a blog that catches your attention, don’t be coy! Even if not, head over to HNN to open the door to a world of quality history writing on the web.