chapter  6
10 Pages

Digital Searching and the Re-formulation of Historical Knowledge

ByTim Hitchcock

The Old Bailey Online, for instance, comes up in one user's history in close proximity to enquiries for recipes for chicken pot pie, chainsaw maintenance and spare parts, and the whereabouts of old US navy buddies. This chapter explores how this liberation and resulting deracination of academic knowledge has, and will, impact on the research methodologies of academic historians. It attempts to chart what we are doing to history as a discipline, as a research methodology, and as a literary genre with the creation of new ways of organizing and accessing historical information. The chapter also explores the interactions between professional practice, technological change and intellectual perspectives. The impact of the digitization of organic archives in combination with the fundamental deracination of knowledge implied by the use of keyword searching on the corpus of digitized printed text, frees from the habit of mind implied by the structures of the archives.