Friday, October 6, 2017

Introducing the new website Bunk

We have recently learned of a new website, supported by the University of Richmond, that is sure to interest readers: Bunk: Rewiring American History. It is described as "a shared home for the web’s most interesting writing and thinking about the American past."

Here's a bit more, from an article about the venture in NiemanLab:
Bunk, which takes its name from the 1916 Henry Ford quote that “history is bunk,” launched in beta earlier this month. “A big part of this project is amplifying what’s already out there online,” said Tony Field, the site’s editor. “There’s so much great work being done online by scholars already. That includes blogs, conversations on social media between historians — there’s a very active community of historians on Twitter — not to mention all of the great digital archives all over the place, and digital humanities work based at universities and elsewhere. We were very interested in what it would mean to try to harness all of that energy and make it accessible to a broader audience of people who aren’t, say, historians on Twitter.” 
Content is presented in a mosaic format on the home page, featured in “Collections” on specific themes (“Monument Wars,” “Immigrants Not Welcome”), and searchable by theme (Money, Power, Family). The aggregated content includes a few paragraphs on Bunk’s site, then you click through to the publisher’s original site to finish. One big part of the vision is to highlight connections between disparate pieces of media. “We wondered what it would mean to build a machine that thinks like a historian,” Field said. The algorithm that links together related articles on the site is enabled by a team of student workers tagging content by theme, people named, timeframe, and place. “Can we replicate the experience of sitting with somebody who has training and a deep level of knowledge as she reads the newspaper?” Field said. “What sort of connections would be taking place in the mind of somebody like that, and can we share that experience with our audiences?”
Content that you'll find there now includes Walter Johnson's recent piece for the Boston Review, on how the spectre of Dred Scott haunts St. Louis, and a "collection" on voting rights and gerrymanderingFor an example of original content, see Sara Mayeux's recent piece on "Litigating the Line Between Past and Present."