Professor Ian Milligan is leading a research project is set to transform the historical profession by revolutionizing the way historians sift through and retrieve sources created in the Internet age.
Professor Milligan's project will link history and big data to give historians the tools required to find and interpret digital sources from web archives. Milligan’s research is funded by a $140,000 Early Researcher Award (ERA) from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.
Born-digital sources – information or materials that originate in a digital form – have increased at vast speeds since the 1990s. Milligan hopes his project will be the first-of-its-kind to break barriers and provide historians with the tools they need to access and meaningfully interpret born-digital sources.
“Traditionally historians had to scrounge for any information they could find and now, information is being preserved that never would’ve been in the past – this produces an overload of sources,” said Milligan. “This fundamental shift creates many barriers and historians have largely been left out of the big data discussion. The ERA makes it possible for my research team to change that – to bring historians into the big data discussion, break down barriers to access web archives, and provide tools to enable all historians to revolutionize their own work.”
These born-digital sources are integral components to telling the full stories of our lives as well as documenting the political, social, and cultural landscapes of the recent past. Milligan warns that if historians don’t get involved and begin studying these sources now, they could disappear forever.
From Waterloo News.