To what extent can digital media improve accessibility in the history field?
I feel that increased accessibility is one of the primary benefits of digital media; the steak and potatoes of what it offers both in terms of access to educational information and access to research materials. Financially, the more developed the digital infrastructure becomes, the more cost-effective it becomes for people to make data accessible digitally. Physical distances, travel costs and international boundaries become less of an obstacle to research. Educators with numerous demands on their time can quickly locate and access supplemental material through digital media. Etc…
The only obstacles that I can think of related to accessibility are 1) the willingness or unwillingness of those who have the information to share it digitally; 2) the technical ability of those who have the information to make it available digitally (a labor/time intensive process which requires specialized skills to digitize the information and then present it in an effective and accessible manner); and 3) trying to find specific information is the deluge of digital resources at our disposal. After all, accessible information isn’t accessible if it can’t be found, which relies on both the seeker having good searching skills, and on the sharer making their material findable.
With great power comes great responsibility. While there are ways in which DH can improve accessibility, it’s important to consider what access is being given to what information. How are we interpreting data for the viewing audience? Are our sources credible? Is our data good? Do we have the right or the responsibility to interpret that data?
I think that with the internet and digital media, more information can and has been made more easily available to people. Yet there are still road blocks. How does net neutrality play into giving people access? There’s still a technology gap between economic groups. How do we mitigate those?
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