HIS 218
Unit 9: What Is Real and Not Real in the Digital and Real Worlds

The statue of Bismarck stands guard; Photo courtesy Marie McDowell.
Blue Separator Bar

Short introduction

I may be the only one bothered by this idea of the real v. the unreal, and it is hard to put into words, but I'd like you to consider the differences in user sensory experiences when dealing with a physical historical record/object versus a digital representation of that same record/object.

What you must do in this unit

  • Read this week's note.
  • Watch the video for this unit on YouTube.
  • Look at some of the unit 2 web projects, such as Digital Karnak and Persepolis: a virtual reconstruction (both physical sites long abandoned and pretty much almost disappeared) in light of what is real and not real.
  • In regards to historical newspapers, there are some powerful digitization projects underway, and there are also great new searching possibilities. See "The Biographers New Friend" by Stephen Mihm.


  • Post on your blog (5 points): (a) your thoughts on the reality and non-reality (or fantasy) of the digital world; (b) give at least one example (preferably two) from a local, online museum or library that illustrates this real-nonreal phenomenon. Please let me know in Canvas when you have posted so that I can grade.
  • Post on your blog (5 points) a short critique and some comments about the online exhibits and Pinterest boards created by the other students in the course. You will find the URLs in the Canvas discussion board.

Extra credit options

  • Please suggest any materials relevant to this unit of the course.

Unit learning objectives

  • Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to (1) work with and interpret digital historical materials such as a newspaper and (2) appreciate the non-physical reality of digital materials.

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