Digital technology has unquestionably become central to the enterprise of public history and cultural heritage. Yet the extent to which digital technologies have helped public historians animate higher levels of civic engagement and activism is unclear and becomes particularly problematic in the context of the digital divide. This essay examines the implications of that divide through an analysis of a community-engagement project in a distressed section of inner-city St. Louis. The experience provides a cautionary tale about the efficacy of chasing the latest digital wizardry in the pursuit of public engagement, but also suggests that digital technologies can enhance civic engagement and activism when blended strategically with more traditional formats for interaction.
Chasing the Frontiers of Digital Technology: Public History Meets the Digital Divide
Andrew Hurley is professor of history at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he teaches courses in urban history and public history. He is the author of Beyond Preservation: Using Public History to Revitalize Inner Cities (Temple University Press, 2010). He is a member of the Virtual City Project team.
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Andrew Hurley; Chasing the Frontiers of Digital Technology: Public History Meets the Digital Divide. The Public Historian 1 February 2016; 38 (1): 69–88. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2016.38.1.69
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