Digital History: The future of the past

Digital technology is rapidly changing the nature and scope of historical enquiry for both academics and enthusiasts. Nick Poyntz introduces a new series that examines these revolutionary developments.

Over the last ten years a new phrase has entered the vocabulary of historians. ‘Digital history’ has quietly but quickly become a buzzword for historical researchers and enthusiasts alike. Even if you’ve never heard of it, the chances are you have used a digitised version of a historical source on the web or in a library. At its most simple, digital history is any type of historical activity – from presentation and storage of sources to research and analysis – that involves digital media. It can cover anything from a simple website to sophisticated computer programmes. Collectively, digital media have the potential to transform the way historians work. Over the coming months, this column will present a guide to some of the key highlights and developments in digital history. This first column aims to give you a short introduction to the subject.

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