Can We Redeem File-Sharing After the Download Decade?

The term “download decade” is an effective description of the first ten years of this infant century and the first rising chapter of the so-called Information Age.

It accurately distills the blind conspiracy between the exponential availability of high-speed Internet, the gradual decrease in the cost of personal computers, the rise of peer-to-peer file-sharing networks and websites like Napster and its clones (built largely on BitTorrent protocols) and, of course, the generation of youth at the centre of it all.

This evolution in communications has changed consumer habits, challenged traditional media, and kindled still-raging debates about ethical use and legislative reform. Continue reading

History Matters: A lecture series connecting Toronto historians with the city and its people

by Lisa Rumiel

Runnymede Branch Public Library ca. 1930 (City of Toronto Archives)

On Tuesday, September 14th the Toronto Public Library (TPL) will kick off its 6 part History Matters lecture series.  As you might have guessed from the title, the idea for the series was inspired by what’s been going on over the past couple years with the folks at Active History – both at the blog and the 2008 conference.  My goal for organizing the series with the library was to encourage the development of community and exchange between active Toronto historians and the broader Toronto community.

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In Search of the Franklin Expedition

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Franklin Expedition, 1845

In 1845 the Franklin Expedition disembarked from coastal England in search of the Northwest Passage, but instead of achieving this goal, the voyage became the source of one of history’s most enduring stories that would continue to spark interest over 150 years later.

This summer Parks Canada has announced its intention to continue its search for the wrecks of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror – the two lost ships of the Franklin Expedition – that it began in 2008. Continue reading

Historical Preservation in Comparative Perspective

Last week, two media items caught my attention.  The first story was the discovery of remains from an 18th-century ship found during construction at the World Trade Centre in New York City.  The second was a short debate on CBC’s Metro Morning between Toronto City Councillors Mike Feldman and Adam Vaughan on heritage designation of historic homes.

As I reflected on these two news items I was struck by their differences in tone.  In New York City, the discovery of this ship seems to have sparked significant interest (especially given the global significance of the site).  The New York Times followed up on this with an interactive summary of other archaeological finds in the city.  In Toronto, the tone was quite different.  First, there was debate about the merits of historical designation of private property.  But more concerning was Adam Vaughan’s critical point that only four people work in the City’s Heritage Preservation Services department. [editors note (July 27 2010): there are actually 14 people currently employed at Historical Preservation Services see the comments section below for more information] Continue reading

Active History Annoucements: July 25-31

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The following upcoming events may be of interest to our readers (click on ‘continue reading’ below for full descriptions):

1)  CFP: We Demand: History/Sex/Activism in Canada – deadline: 30 Sept 2010

2) is looking for a co-book review editor

3) CJSW: Today in Canadian History still looking for submissions

4) Digest of this week’s blog posts

AH Announcements will be on vacation for the month of August.  AH announcements will return on August 28th.  If you have an announcement that you would like included in this weekly dispatch, please e-mail Continue reading

Canadian Census Data: A Lost Resource

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Statistics Canada is making significant changes to the way that the Canadian census is conducted.  Beginning in 2011 the long census form will no longer be distributed to Canadians. Previously, this portion of the census collected information on topics such as ethnicity, religion, employment, education, income, and various other social concerns.  Information on some of these topics will now be gathered by a new voluntary National Household Survey (NHS).  Unlike census information, data gathered through the NHS is not subject to the same laws regarding release of information to the public.  Statistic Canada does not currently release information gathered through surveys, meaning that a valuable resource for researchers is essentially being eliminated. Continue reading

Active History Annoucements: July 18-24

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The following upcoming events may be of interest to our readers (click on ‘continue reading’ below for full descriptions):

1)  CFP: We Demand: History/Sex/Activism in Canada – deadline: 30 Sept 2010

2) is looking for a co-book review editor

3) Responses to the end of the mandatory long-form census

4) Digest of this week’s blog posts

Newspaper article of note: Washington Post: Lessons from Exxon Valdez spill have gone unheeded

If you have an announcement that you would like included in this weekly dispatch, please e-mail Continue reading

Protect Your Copyright

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By Adam Crymble

Keep it, sell it or release it to everyone?

Copyright isn’t a topic of which many young academics have a strong understanding. But, as a writer, it’s something to which you should pay attention. And you shouldn’t be afraid to assert your rights when it comes to assigning copyright when you publish.

Your copyright is your ownership over the fruits of your labour. You did the research and the writing, so you have a right to benefit from that writing. Copyright is the only thing that legally protects you from people who want to steal your work and make money from it.

The catch is, it only works if you don’t give it away carelessly.

When you publish something, the editor of the publication has to obtain your permission, and you can count on each publication having a set of rights that they require you to sign over in return for publishing your work. There are thousands of combinations of rights publishers can and will ask for. Here I’ve put together the four most common types: Publication Rights, Grant of Rights in Exchange for Compensation, Pressure to Relinquish Rights, and Releasing Rights. Continue reading

Dr. Georgina Feldberg, 1956-2010

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The history community lost a great teacher, scholar and active historian this week.  I had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Feldberg during my first year at York.  She was one of the professors in a graduate course on the history of science, health and the environment.  I learned a lot from her as a teacher and from her book, Disease and Class: Tuberculosis and the Shaping of Modern North American Society.  A few weeks after I last met with her, I heard she had been diagnosed with cancer. This came as a big shock to all of us in the history of medicine field and particularly to a number of my friends who Feldberg supervised.  Sadly, she finally lost her  four year long battle with this disease, leaving behind her husband and daughter.

In reading about her death and listening to the kind words said about her at the funeral, it occurred to me that Dr. Feldberg’s work provides a model for active history. Continue reading

Community Service-Learning and Active Historians on Campus

By Jamie Trepanier, co-chair Canadian Historical Association’s Active History group

“One way of making education more holistic is to get outside the classroom and off the campus. It interrupts the programming that twelve years of classroom conditioning automatically call up; the change in environment changes everything. The class becomes a social unit; students become more fully rounded human beings not just people who either know the answer or don’t know it. Inside the classroom, it’s one kind of student that dominates; outside, it’s another. Tying course content to the world outside offers a real-world site for asking theoretical questions; it answers students’ need to feel that their education is good for something other than a grade point average.  And it begins to address the problem of the student who has no conception of what is possible after graduation…” – From A Life in School by Jane Tompkins, Duke University, Addison Wesley Longman, 1996 (from Service Learning website at St. Francis Xavier University)

Since joining the Active History CHA group a year ago I have been wrestling with the concept of what it means to be an “active historian”. While the teaching of history is an evident tool of engagement for the historian, and has been the subject here of some wonderful posts about the many diverse and fascinating projects currently on the go, I am still left with a familiar question I have had since my days as an idealistic undergraduate history student; how to mesh our sense of civic engagement/political activism/social responsibility with our interests and skills as aspiring/professional historians and, for those of us who want and actually get teaching positions, future educators? Continue reading