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Reading: History as Dialogue: On Online Narrativity


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History as Dialogue: On Online Narrativity


Chiel van den Akker

Royal Netherlands Historical Society (editorial secretary), NL
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Digital history covers a wide variety of information technology driven initiatives about the past. Many reflections on digital history either consider the auxiliary sciences of history or public history, whilst they tend to disregard historical understanding as it is traditionally achieved in the academic historical narrative. The problem is that the historical monograph no longer seems an appropriate model for historical understanding in a digital environment. How then, are we to conceptualise online historical understanding? Information technology, we are told, is participatory, interactive, dynamic, and collaborative, enabling direct communication. It can therefore be argued that the dialogue is the underlying concept of information technology. We may push this concept even further, at the risk of being misunderstood, and present it as an online alternative for academic history writing. The function of such an exercise is to underline and provoke a much needed reflection on historical understanding in the digital age.
How to Cite: Akker, C. van . den ., (2013). History as Dialogue: On Online Narrativity. BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review. 128(4), pp.103–117. DOI:
Published on 16 Dec 2013.
Peer Reviewed


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