Week 4: Fly Free Scholarship, Fly free!

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of “copyright” is YouTube, and not in the good way. Perhaps because I am one of those buyers that needs to beware of those “shady sellers” Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig describe in the introduction of “Owning the Past”. Seeing what YouTube has become, where content creators are persecuted by mindless bots for a copyright that doesn’t exist and no real solutions to the growing outcry from creator and consumer alike; it’s incredibly easy for my mind to inherently dislike the entire conversation of copyright altogether. Maybe it’s the growing progressive cynic inside me assuming the larger company cares little for it’s base, but as far as copyright goes my personal views favor much heavier toward that of the public and consumer. This ties in with Rosensweigs idea of instructors not institutions owning their products, and thus allowing them to become open access. As still a learning historian, I depend incredibly heavily on CCSU for access to many of my sources. Because of my work schedule, the blessing of being able to access a source from my computer when I want to is greater than I previously would have ever thought. I depend on CCSU, and if I wasn’t a student the cost of gaining access to the variety of databases at their disposal would simply be too much. Open access to the public would increase viewership, and thus the spread of data and knowledge, and “more knowledge and education is hardly ever a bad thing”.

Last week I had a geography presentation for my Cultural Tourism course focusing heavily on car culture and route 66. To help highlight this to the group of geography students (many of whom were undergrads and were unfamiliar with the terminology and even what route 66 was) I showed a quick three minute clip from the hit Disney movie Cars. Naturally I don’t own cars, but it was protected by fair use as I was using it for educational purposes while also giving credit to the proper owners (quite literally “classroom use”). This makes my point with YouTube tying into the article “Pushing Back Against Legal Threats by Putting Fair Use Forward”. Copyright is meant to protect the creator from having his idea stolen, but should someone want to build upon or springboard off the idea into something new, that should be not only accepted but encouraged!

In my mind, the TV show South Park said it best in the episode “Free Hat” (Season 6, Episode 9) where they ironically strive to protect movies from their own creators. While this would be excellent commentary on the whole archivists/families vs researchers conflict in the strive for authenticity, I’ll leave that mess for another post.

The point Matt Stone and Trey Parker so eloquently make is that “when an artist creates, whatever they create belongs to society.” (Kyle Broflovski). I feel similarly in regards to content created in the scholarship.

How to do this is a problem that is posed by Rosenzweig. My favorite of his suggestions is delayed release (where premium payers get early access) or partial release, where an abstract with some tantalizing information is released, and to get access to the full would require subscription. This way the public can get access while creators can still earn some revenue.

…and this post went far longer than I thought it would. A lot of these topics create a response a lot longer than 300 words from me. As Mark Twain wrote, “forgive me for writing a long letter, I did not have time to write you a short one”, and while a consise response may be more appropriate, I do feel there is more than enough subject material to go over this limit.

Week 3


First thing first, it impacts my historical research as when I am to start my research the very first thing I do is go to Wikipedia and read over it’s article. While open source has it’s problems (and I am getting a little ahead of myself, but the Peloponnesian Wars are not also known as “The Skeleton Wars”, fought between necromancers wielding vast armies of the undead [as far as we know]), it provides a good basis of information to become well versed on the subject. Most importantly would the hyperlinks and sources that they use, which can legitimize the article. While not all web pages are equal, the use of links to track down more scholarly sources from these open sources is truly a blessing and has helped provide strong sources for several of my papers in the past, as well as creating a grapevine of sources to follow. Similarly touched upon is the world of twitter, which has expanded it’s word count limitation in some circumstances recently and put many aspiring historians in close proximity to experts in a wide range of fields.

Accessibility due to the web has increased, as no longer do people need to travel around the globe to have access to the wide variety of sources. Additionally, organization becomes a key element. As highlighted in the 10,000 notecard article, the juxtaposition of ideas can lead to very different conclusions, and the layout of programs like Zotero can help re-orientation of a thesis or point to accommodate a new idea brought by this organization instantly.

It has however created a problem I touched upon last week relating to scarcity and abundance. As Samuel Taylor said, “Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink”, the web can have a tremendous volume of sources, full of pages of information, but ultimately signifying nothing. Being able to narrow down the search is a tool that is definitely needed in order to research successfully.

As far as the seven step process goes, I’m pretty awful at almost every step. I like to physically write over take notes digitally and prefer to handwrite them. If I do take them digitally, I use word which I often save to my computer, so there is clearly room for improvement for me.

Still, as a median, it’s a pretty good boon. I’m going to end it here, though I may edit this a bit tomorrow before class (wanted to get the main ideas out there and I want to get a little nap in before my shift.) Feel free to comment, I love to talk.

Week 2 Blog Post(?)

OK, full disclosure I’m not sure if we’re also doing week 3 this week or not. I read the articles but as we’re a week behind I wasn’t sure if I should push something out for both weeks together (as a lot of what both weeks cover mesh) or just put out a week 3 post at a later date.

I’m also having difficulty linking my Evernote, but I assume we can get that sorted out in class tomorrow.

ANYWAY, onto the subject of discussion.

How does the medium of the World Wide Web change the practice of doing history? Is Digital History qualitatively different from History? Explain.

Even as still a relatively new technology, the power of the internet brings many boons and thorns with it. It was deemed both by the U.N claiming it ‘s access to be a human right. For the first portion of the question the very nature of research has changed. Scarcity, once the bane of researchers (and still a prevalent problem in many sub-fields), has become a bit of a scarcity itself. With three clicks I can summon millions of bits of information on a breadth of subjects so extensive that in over a hundred lifetimes I could never get to even half of it. Sifting through this information can be nearly impossible for the untrained, but with proper education on the matter finding the information required is exponentially easier than previously thought.

Sources once locked away in archives, available to only a few select individuals are now accessible to everyone on the virtual world. Da Vinchi’s Mona Lisa and Gerrit Smith’s personal letters can be studied easily without the fret or cost of travel. The budding historian and graduate student have a more level playing field, lacking the networking of more senior researchers can come into contact with archivists and request materials, or at least be pointed in the right direction. In the words of one of my former professors, “sometimes getting access to a source is just waiting for certain people to die”. As morbid as that joke was, there was a grain of truth to that as many archivists are to loathe exposing their collections. With the web, accessing them (or at least supplementary material) without having to go through them is possible. Historians needn’t fear their work be required to appease those loaning them their source material, and while I do not condone the burning of bridges (both in the literal and metaphorical) they can operate with more academic integrity. Entire libraries are available online, ripe and ready for re-interpretation and study. There is however a different problem created with a few more utilized open sources, which will be discussed further along the course when we arrive at our Wikipedia and other open source articles.

I think Cohen and Rosenzweig best provides a macro overview of both opinions of it carrying it’s own set of benefits and drawbacks. It isn’t the ultimate doom to research destroying the sacred methodology of good scholarship, but it isn’t the simultaneous mode of transportation to the future of all research and answer to all of the problems of others were making it out me. The first one that comes to mind for me is I very much prefer having a physical book in my hands, as it’s easier on my eyes and I find it a bit more relaxing. Perhaps it’s just me, but I cannot get as invested in a source that is online as opposed to when I am physically holding it. Overall they and Turkel view it as a positive, helping research to progress through a new, if less than perfect, vehicle.

Weller focuses more on the preservation aspect of the internet, as was a saying for me when growing up “when it’s on the internet it’s there forever”. While not exactly true, the lifespan of a website can hypothetically be longer than that of a text and many times more accessible. Furthermore while picture quality can degrade, tools can be used to enhance images to discover things which had previously not been noticed.

I’m going to have to cut myself short, but many of these points will be further tied into on my next post, particularly with the 10,000 Notecards article.

Hello Everyone!

Hey guys, I’m glad to see some familiar faces as well as a bunch of new ones as well! My name is Joshua Pfohl and I’m rather fond of digital history after being exposed to it by professor Glaser two semesters ago.

I’m currently a part time student at CCSU, bouncing between work and school though I am likely to have a career change from cashier to substitute teacher in the not too distant future. I went to CCSU for my undergrad and if anyone has any questions PLEASE don’t hesitate to ask, I’m happy to help.

One of the things that particularly drew me to digital history would be Poke’mon Go! and history in video games. We have a couple articles about Wikipedia coming up in about nine weeks which talk about open sources, and where people learn about history. Digital monuments have started to pop up in various games, from the Robin Williams tribute island in World of Warcraft (I played a good amount of WoW and have even been there) to the Assassin’s Creed franchise, to the popular Civilization games; where people are learning their history is changing.

Also in the first class you all got a taste but I talk about the Oculus Rift and virtual reality at least once a semester for a good five minutes and am a big fan of it. I went to PAX East last year and got to see it first hand and hope to go again this year to see how it’s progressing and talk to some of the guys developing VR tech.

Just a heads up, I’m almost always on Facebook if you need to get a hold of me, though I will also be on at weird hours as I work (for at least a little while longer) overnights as a cashier. I also almost always get wings before class at Wing it On, so if I’m not in the classroom early that is likely where I am.

I look forward to the semester,