Like a Quarter in a Stack of Pennies

The field that can most profit from the internet is local history. The internet provides a means by which small niche communities can congregate, whether these communities are in the same location or dispersed. This provides opportunities for historians to create strong and comprehensive local histories.

The challenge that community and local history have is that their audiences are, by definition, smaller than regional or national history. The internet levels the playing field by eliminating one of the main obstacles, money. Web 2.0 is about buying a “for dummies book” and figuring out what is available. Podcasting, blogging, or any media presentation can be accomplished by a laptop computer and broadcasted to your niche followers. This then becomes a symbiotic relationship where the blogger is learning as much from their peers as their peers do from them .

I am not interested in creating an online persona. I am more likely to use the internet as a way to display, store, and analyze my research. The tools available online to store oral histories and their transcripts in a format where they can be searched or create maps embedded with information about urban development are available inexpensively. The price has dropped and continues to fall.

The internet is a web, so attracting attention depends on linking from one document to another document. Making connections whether interpersonal connections with other people in the field or web connections, non-interpersonal communications.  The baseline fundamental way to attract attention is to have good material. Well researched, well designed, and well informed websites stand out like a quarter does in a stack of pennies. They are indispensable to the world wide web and will always have an audience.

Disclaimer: It is important to remember that the internet is a just tool. The internet is not a magic bullet. There are limitations to web based communication and no replacement for face-to-face.


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