There are a lot of really, really good articles that have been floating around in my Twitterverse lately. Let’s take a look at a few that are worth your perusal.
– All sides of an argument may be wrong to a certain degree, but one side is usually more right that the others. Conor Friedersdorf points out that some people in the Civil War thought both sides were wrong, but that they eventually ended up taking sides anyway.
– Al Mackey has an nice essay on the Hartford Convention, which has been used to justify the right of secession in the United States. Mackey points out that such arguments are based on a poor understanding of the goals and intentions of this Convention, which never actually made a formal resolution advocating for secession.
– Walter Johnson has an interesting bit in the New York Times regarding the economics of American slavery.
– A thoughtful piece on the value of paper in “an increasingly digital world.”
– The Van Pelt-Dietrich library at the University of Pennsylvania is creating a new database called the “Early Novel Database.” The focus will be on metadata, not the digitization of books. If I’m interpreting this correctly, END is aiming to provide digital “paratext” (book titles, tables of content, prefaces, title pages, etc) for a wide swath of books in their collection rather than going through the process of only digitizing entire editions of select books (some of which I’d imagine are +400 pages long). By having a larger sample size, historians may be able to decipher new patterns and ask new questions about the past not readily answerable by reading one or two large books. This process has been referred to as “distance reading” and is something that we have discussed in my digital history class. A good piece on the work of Matthew Jockers and “distance reading” can be found here.
– Carolyn Heinrich deftly points out that if your state leads the nation in financing standardized tests to your k-12 students, it doesn’t mean you’re actually obtaining higher achievement rates in the classroom. At some point I think we must ask who is actually benefitting the most from these tests. Students? Teachers? Politicians? The business and financial interests behind these initiatives? Who is convincing these legislatures to fork over millions for these tests?