Author Archives: Ian Milligan

Too Much Information: The Case for the Programming Historian

Depending on your vantage point, we have a looming opportunity – or a looming problem. Historical digital sources have reached a scale where they defy conventional analysis and now call out for computational analysis. The Internet Archive alone has 2.9 million texts, there are 2.6 million pages of historical newspapers archived at the Chronicling America site of the US Library… Read more »

Blowing Your Mind with Chronozoom (or how we can wrap our minds around ‘Big History’)

Historians aren’t always the best at crossing the hall to the sociologists across the way, let alone the astronomers, physicians, or geologists across campus. Scientists who study the Big Bang, however, are engaged in history – just a (very) different kind. Similarly, those who study the very long-term geographical forces that have shaped Earth, those who study evolutionary processes across… Read more »

What will the future history of today look like? Digital literacy for the next generation.

Ian Milligan argues that we will need to make dramatic changes to history undergraduate curriculums by aggressively implementing digital literacy programmes. This will benefit both our students and the historical profession.

What Do You Want to Know (about history)? Wolfram Alpha and the Computational Knowledge Engine.

Wolfram Alpha lets users interact with over 10 trillion pieces of information curated by a large research team. You just type in what you want to know, the engine tries to figure out what you’re asking it, and you’re presented with a remarkable array of information (as well as ways to refine your subsequent searches). This has tremendous historical applications, both for teaching and for historical research.

“Universal Access to All Knowledge”: The Internet Archive, Google Books, and the Haithi Trust.

In this post, Ian Milligan introduces people to the Internet Archive, the Haithi Trust, and Google Books. Why should we have to travel to archival repositories, especially if they’re in an already convenient form like microfilm? Shouldn’t everybody have access to information, not just the select few who happen to have institutional affiliations? When it comes to access to information, we should be on an even playing field. Lay people interested in history, undergraduates, cash-strapped professional researchers, and all can benefit from several internet resources that put an incredible amount of information at your finger tips.

The Rise and Fall of Ideas: Having fun with Google N-Grams

We need to make sense of large quantities of information in order to do ‘big history’ and provide a context into which we can write our smaller studies. In this post, I’ll tell you what an ngram is, show some cool pictures, and hopefully drive you to have some fun with this.

May 12th Public Lecture: “Understanding Slavery Past and Present”

A reminder to our readers that you are all invited to the final lecture in the Mississauga Library System’s ‘History Minds’ series, co-hosted with ActiveHistory.ca. This talk will be on Thursday, May 12th at 7:30PM in Classroom 3 at the Mississauga Central Library (see below the cut for directions). “Understanding Slavery Past and Present” With Karlee Sapoznik, Co-Founder of the… Read more »

Using Word Clouds to Quickly See the Political Past

This is a demonstration by Ian Milligan of how word clouds can be used to visually display textual documents, with possible applications in the educational field, media field, and elsewhere. It also has lots of pretty pictures.

Left History Theme Issue on ‘Active History,’ Launching a New Paper

ActiveHistory.ca and Left History are delighted to announce the launch of Left History’s theme issue on Active Histories. We are also delighted to launch our sixth short paper on our website, “Disappointment, Nihilism, and Engagement: Some Thoughts on Active History” by York University SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow Stuart Henderson.