The usefulness of digital archives has become very clear to me over the past couple of years, and even more clear after this week’s readings and our session with Steve Brier. That certain documents, sources, and resources can be found in minutes rather than years is truly amazing. And yet, even more amazing is the fact that procuring funding for the maintenance of the 9/11 Digital Archives has been so difficult. It would seem to be a no-brainer in this case.
I agree, that while he inclusion of racist and objectionable material may be surprising to some, from a historian’s perspective it would be important to have this material available for the historian fifty years hence, as it provides a sense of the times, and of the multiplicity of viewpoints surrounding such an event–it would also help to explain why the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had such early popular support among voters and politicians.
Digital archives have already become a staple in academic work, whether one is searching for scholarly journal articles or things more experimental. They are here to stay, and they will, I’m sure, be improving to the extent that they become more searchable and more wide-ranging and deeper in content. Digital archives are perhaps the most accessible and recognizable forms of DH, even to those unfamiliar with the term. Open access to information is a key element in the evolution of scholarship, and it is vital for the future of open societies, and digital archives help to foster open access. So let’s have more of them.