Diacronie. Studi di Storia Contemporanea (Jun 2012)
Has the Historian’s craft gone digital? Some observations from France
Since the end of the 1980s the historiographical context has changed considerably. Over the course of the last ten years, we have reached the “digital age” and computers as well as resources available via the Internet have become indispensable tools for all researchers. Be it for the stage of documentation or for actual writing, we are now living and working in a context where historians can no longer completely refuse all IT tools. As long as there are no solid, durable, large-scale training efforts to equip all historians with the skills to use the new and old IT tools, their potential is necessarily limited. While there have been studies on “researchers” in general and also on political scientists in particular, there has, to our knowledge, been no scientific study which would allow us to reach conclusions on the use of IT tools and digital resources by French historians. It is thus difficult to reach conclusions on a larger scale and we have decided to base our analysis on our own experience in order to consider what could be the transformations of the historian’s craft in the digital age. We will thus proceed first to a series of conclusions based on our activities in mediation (teaching and blogging), before proposing a typology of the principal evolutions. We will conclude with a certain number of propositions as far as training of historians is concerned.