History on the Digital Margins

Manan Ahmed is an organizer of the roundtable session Contested Pasts and Presents: History and Memory in the Local at the 2008 AHA Annual Meeting. He has put the session abstract and the individual presenter abstracts of his session online at the “Memory Matters” blog. Using the newly released CommentPress 1.0, a free and open source software developed by the Institute for the Future of the Book, a visitor to the site can comment on any individual paragraph of the presenter abstracts. Likewise, panel participants can reply to these comments. Despite the complexity of the documents that are under construction here, the site remains remarkably clean and readable.

Historians have long worked to decipher the marginalia on the manuscripts they study. But now, they can create marginalia (or, as in this case, facilitate the creation of marginalia) in their own work digitally. This experimental undertaking is an innovative new approach to scholarly interaction. It will be interesting to see how successful this endeavor is, and how it may be expanded upon in future years.

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