|Title:||Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig's Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web|
|Publication info:||Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
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Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig's Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web
vol. 9, no. 1, April 2006
|Article Type:||Book Review|
Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web
The University of South Dakota (Vermillion, SD)
Cohen, Daniel J. and Roy Rosenzweig. Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005. 316 p. $28.95
This work represents a practical guide for historians, teachers, archivists, and curators for building web projects. Cohen and Rosenzweig, both directors at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, provide procedures in order to plan and execute a successful on-line history site.
The authors assert that digital media can enhance the teaching of history. The main advantages are that people have access to rare materials that otherwise would not be readily available to the general public, and the web’s interactivity that allows a variety of multimedia formats such as text, images, audio, and video to be utilized in a site. However, Cohen and Rosenzweig also caution readers about the technological pitfalls of maintaining such projects. The authors believe that a great deal of thought should go into the planning stages of on-line digital history projects. The following factors should be taken under consideration: 1) cost and resources, 2) intended audience, 3) marketing the site, 4) copyright, 5) software and hardware, 6) labor intensive (in-house or outsource), and 7) aesthetics and usability (resolution, font, and design). According to Cohen and Rosenzweig, the collection should be assessed as a whole rather than the sum of its parts. Of particular interest is the chapter regarding copyright. Copyright is an evolving set of principles that balances proprietary rights and fair use. The authors state that copyright law is leaning toward the rights of holders, especially in the corporate sector. Yet the web is changing the legal landscape for copyright and intellectual property rights. There is a certain amount of risk management involved, and project managers must weigh what materials may or may not be in the public domain for educational purposes. The final chapter addresses how to preserve a site and make it accessible for a long period of time. The authors contend that documentation is critical to chronicle the development of the web site through the use of comment tags and that policies should be in place for migration and refreshing of the data. Moreover, the appendix entitled “Database Software, Scripting Languages, and XML” is very helpful concerning technical infrastructure if more than a hundred objects are to be included in the digital archive.
Digital History is a welcome addition for professionals and enthusiasts who want a comprehensive introduction to the topic. Information specialists will also find the book useful for honing their technical skills, and academic libraries should include this title in their collections.