Analog to digital, and back again

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In making the web, we've collectively created a vast and rapidly growing archive of primary and secondary sources in digital form. We're just beginning to understand the implications of this ... as historians we now have the potential to share our work with a billion people, a seventh of humankind. Barriers of access and language remain, of course, but it is still a larger 'public' than any of us can imagine.

What I'm most excited about right now is the possibility of putting this digital information back into the material world in various new ways. Locative technologies like GPS-enabled cellphones allow us to tie digital sources to the real-world places that they represent. Tiny, embedded microcontrollers and sensors allow us to build devices, exhibits or environments that provide a rich, physical interaction with people. Desktop fabrication will enable us to "print out" and handle replicas of material objects (fossils, potsherds, ancient coins, small mechanisms, etc.) And a very popular genre of online writing attempts to teach new skills, while conveying a hands-on, DIY mentality. Each of these trends opens up whole new worlds for practitioners of public history.

Original Format


William Turkel


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William Turkel

Date Added



William Turkel, "Analog to digital, and back again." Forward Capture: Imagine the Future of Public History, Item #13 (accessed December 03 2021, 1:51 pm)