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Taking It Further

June 11, 2006

For those of you who have checked in with the MUA from time to time you have witnessed the slow evolution of the museum from my original HTML hack job to what I hope is a slightly better coded site. The biggest mile stones along the way have undoubtedly been the addition of talented people helping out behind the scenes such as the graduate student interns from East Carolina and George Washington universities and the start of my own involvement with George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media. That program in particular opened my eyes to what is possible with the Internet and underwater archaeology.

The Center for History and New Media (CHNM) (http://www.chnm.gmu.edu/) is run by the history department at Mason. What they have done in a nut shell is begin to chart the cyber ocean. To those who say they don’t want their students to do research on the web or cite websites because there is so much garbage out there they say, “Teach your students how to discern between the good and the bad.” What are your criteria for good scholarship? Use that as a starting point.

There are numerous tools out there just waiting to be utilized. The CHNM site provides easy access to many of them including what may be the largest collection of website reviews conducted in concert with the Journal of American History. Currently there are over 1000 reviews available. In addition viewers can access tools for building polls, search syllabi, read numerous articles, see examples of student and professional websites, access digital archives, download research tools, etc.

Many of these things are immediately useful to underwater archaeologists and maritime historians but I also see this as a model for our profession in the sense that we need a similar effort to organize, review, establish standards, and educate the current and next generation of underwater archaeologists.

I hope that in some small way the MUA site and blog can be a useful voice in that conversation.

– Kurt

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