Digital Scholarship

Thinking of how digital tools have altered the approach of my historical research is saying too little. Notwithstanding the mere possibility to search anything you want online from the capacity of a handheld device, it has also changed the way people interact with it. Beginning with Google and having grown up with encyclopedias, the difference is incredible. Google is just the tip of the Iceberg. Considering that saying that a handheld device can provide so much information is saying something.

Digitization has become a cornerstone for my Caribbean studies. Sites like Manioc have been essential tools in my research, given the sometimes complexities of studying the Caribbean. As much as I wish that the IREL site was more user-friendly, I cannot deny its important use for my study. I can find digital primary source material from the comfort of my own home. The digitization of archives has provided researches, who perhaps cannot afford a plane ticket for an incredible archive in Aux Province. Digitization alone has been incredibly influential for the development of research for people who’s archives might be out of reach. A fondness and appreciation for the historical process is not something that everyone appreciates, sadly. New authentic tools have allowed history to become more reachable.
All that can be accomplished through mapping today is incredible. Visualization tools are what has helped history reach a broader audience that at times are reluctant to show interest. These tools provide new ways of the next generation to, not only explore history but get more excited about it. We have already mentioned the incredible uses of mapping and graphing apps such as Tableau. The ability to take static data and making it accessible in a more attractive way has wholly changed the historical audience and perspective. Students might look at a table on a book and be able to understand it. However by using mapping and graphics apps the perception changes entirely. I could, as I did in a previous post, use this software to present information in different ways to students to see if different conclusions are drawn. With mapping apps, patterns become more attainable. If I am doing a graph on the Transatlantic slave trade, for example, using mapping and graphing apps, perhaps the idea of the French Atlantic Triangle will be more intrinsic than any words I say.

Mapping is making the future of my field a fascinating one. Climate is a necessary aspect to keep in mind when studying islands in general. Storms have ravished the Caribbean for a long time; mapping can provide two exciting things. One it can help give a more comprehensive view of a location, like for example an old rum distilleries in the Caribbean.  These are incredible sources of both tourism and history for the islands of the island. The relation to sugar, slavery and later rum distilleries in the Caribbean are crucial for their history. The relation between these factors and how they correlate histories between Caribbean.

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