There have been conversations lately–on Twitter, via email, and in the comments on a previous post here–about the possibilities of using the popular Museums and the Web conference as a model for something like a History & the Web conference. The concept would be to connect organizations with historical collections and the people who use them to make the web a better place for studying and expanding our knowledge about history. Possible participants and stakeholders could include:
- organizations like archives, museums, special collections, historical societies, and libraries who have historical collections and build tools to access them, and the people who work in such organizations
- scholars and researchers who have used materials available on the web in innovative ways or who have built their own tools to promote access to historical collections
- scholars and researchers who study how historical materials are used
- educators at all levels who use historical materials available on the Web in their teaching
- people or organizations from other fields who have projects that can be used as models for the history community (such as the citizen science efforts)
- students and educators in archival science, library science, museum studies, public history, and history who are studying the use of the web for the study of history
One question that being asked is what would people most like to get out of a conference like this? Do you want typical conference presentations, un-conferencey sessions or both? Do you want sessions that teach you technical skills, such as learning how to use something like Omeka? What would attract you to attend? What would convince your organization to fund you to attend? Do you think something like this is needed? I’ve toyed with the idea of trying to plan a scaled-down version of something similar, but just for archives and try to hold it prior to the SAA annual meeting. Sort of a one-day Archives & the Web conference, but the logistics of that are complicated. And, of course, part of the value of the larger conference would be gathering together people from different disciplines with different perspectives, so a narrower version would be, well, narrower.
Right now, everything is at the initial talking stage among a few people, but the hope is that if we can get some of our professional organizations interested (such as SAA, AASLH, NCPH, for example) that this may be something that could actually get off the ground. But since we’re still in the talking stages, now is the time to talk. You’ve been to a lot of conferences, so you know what works and what doesn’t. Do you want to see a new conference like this (competing for your travel dollars with the existing ones)? If so, what do you want to see included? What would you want from History & the Web?