History, Technology; The Blog and The Passion

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Publicly Historians? Publicly Modern Historians!

Interestingly enough, I have not been a “blogger” for very long but I can tell you this much, as a new student in the Public History program at St. Mary’s University I have grown to be many different things including a blogger. The students in the program have become bloggers, twitter-storians, Slack-ers, and have even hit the nail on the head with the Planner application as planners, innovators and do-ers. History, by the perspective of many, is this old dusty subject that student have to take in grade school. There is an understanding that the topic continues in some people’s lives through writing, and publications of research. The public knows of historians that work in libraries and museums pulling things of historical value out of an old vault or collection.

Transfiguration in History Nation (caution: bloggers in the making)

My colleagues, the fellow students, the professors and the undergraduate students around the Department of Public History at St. Mary’s have begun transfiguration to a new type of historian. The world is changing and we are changing with it. Looking at some of the applications that I shared up above here, I would think the main pivotal platforms are this blog (Publicly Historians), Twitter, and Slack. These three applications have helped re-innovate the way we think and work together in teams and as classmates. The applications started as a requirement to learn a new method of communication and dissemination of information but have since turned into a more preferred method of communicating and sharing than I originally imagined. Blogging however seems to be that one that has given me a new perspective on the capacity of a historian that is different than the traditional historians we have met in the past. Looking through our blog site has been interesting for me as I was considering this topic to. There are blogs that talk about the “mummy brown” paint color to the “Esperanza Peace and Justice Center” and even a blog on a historical project going on in the Westside San Antonio region. The students have jumped past just thinking about the topics themselves in relation to the course but they have also delved into some topics that are just interesting altogether and tried to incorporate the public history aspect of our field into their accounts. becoming a blogger in this day is important though. I have seen and heard of information being researched and written about and then nobody sees it or reads it. I’ve typed out a well thought out blog and attached some great photos and within a few minutes of posting might have a comment or a retweet and the feeling is great. The information that I spent time to gather information and share it shared within moments and at that time I know my research did some immediate good.

Not Just Procrastinators but “Slack-ers”

Now, you might be wondering what Slack is and believe me, I was wondering too. Slack is a platform used by different organizations as a collaborative online workspace. The neat thing about slack is that it works across most platforms including iOS (i-Phone), Android, Mac, Windows and Linux. It is user friendly and is pretty vibrant in color. The platform is pretty simple to use at first and only gets easier after you’ve had your first few conversations. Why is any of this important to the modern-day historian? Well, we are able to not just have a group message type conversation, we are able to schedule events, participate in polls, have side conversations with each other and create our own workflows with the application. We can share resources and blog ideas as well as just pertinent information in relation to the program with each other. We even have fun with it sometimes and share memes and other funny side notes.

P-interesting Huh?

So by now you may have though, “well Geremy, I am not a historian, so why does this matter to me?” It turns out that everyone isn’t a historian (big surprise there) but everyone is effected by these new methods. It could be in 10 years or it could be tomorrow that someone somewhere needs to know something about a topic that we are blogging, tweeting, slack-ing about and we now have these conversations and research topics posted somewhere that can be searched and can be used for future research. It is something worth caring about. The work we are doing is going to change the way historians conduct research in the future. The historian of the future will no longer Face-books all day long but could be searching one of our four-squares of informational platforms.

Fortress Alamo: The Key to Texas

Relearning the Alamo

This last week, our Public History class had the great opportunity to visit the Alamo and see part of Fortress Alamo: The Key to Texas exhibit.  I’ll say that even though I have been near the Alamo numerous times over the last decade, I hadn’t made the trek to visit inside. I’m not sure what my expectations were but suffice it to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the new exhibit and the way it tells a part of the Alamo story.  Even though I consider myself an Alamo enthusiast, I would say that I learned a lot from this exhibit.  If you haven’t been to the Alamo recently, I would encourage you to take the time to go downtown and spend some time learning about this unique part of Texas history.

Above is a picture of an Alamo Spanish cannon that was brought back to San Antonio from San Jacinto. Photo taken by Steve Hemphill at Fortress Alamo Exhibit

What is the history of the Alamo as a military post? 

The exhibit room has an interactive piece that allows for visitors to share what connection they have to the military history of San Antonio. I enjoyed seeing this as an effective way to engage visitors in seeing the Alamo and its long history of serving as a military outpost that played such a pivotal role in the story of Texas stretching back even farther than the commonly referenced 1836 battle.  As you enter the rest of the exhibit, there are many important artifacts that showcase and highlight what battle was like throughout different periods of Texas history. There are guns, rifles, powder horns, knives, bow and arrows as well as shields made of Buffalo hide. While I have photos of these various artifacts, I believe the best way to learn is to go and see these artifacts for yourself and imagine what battle with these weapons might have been like.

This interactive part of the exhibit allowed visitors to share their personal connection to the Alamo. Photo taken by Steve Hemphill

The Long Barracks 

The second part of our tour as a class was a visit to the Long Barracks of the Alamo which had some interesting window artwork that allow you to imagine different periods of Alamo history. The Long Barracks did two important things at once. First, it reminded you that you were standing in a historic space. Second, it made good use of space to show artifacts and tell the history of the Alamo and also engage your imagination with the use of technology. Towards the end of the Long Barracks there is a space that simulates a 3D image of modern day Alamo Plaza that can quickly switch over to what the Alamo looked like in 1836.

What’s next? Telling more of the story

As someone who has studied the Battle of the Alamo and has recently visited the new exhibit I can confidently say I was pleasantly surprised with how different the experience was from ten years ago on my last visit. Dr. Bruce Winders, Curator of the Alamo and Ernesto Rodriguez III, Associate Curator have done an excellent job of telling the story of the Alamo in the space they have.  Although the details of the siege of 1836 have been widely told there is much more story to tell. I enjoyed seeing some of the artwork and photos that were a part of this exhibit including paintings and photos lent as a courtesy of the Bexar Archives as well as the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. These pieces start to help us to more fully understand the history of San Antonio and yet they don’t fully tell the story. The story of Texas is the story of the Alamo and how it has stood the test of time and the many changes that 300 years of history has brought its way. I am hopeful that with the recent interest and debate over the 300 years of San Antonio history that we move forward with a plan to more fully tell the story of the Alamo and San Antonio, Texas.

Cementville

Imagine for a moment San Antonio is the home to one of the early mini-metropolises in the area. An area consumed and operated under the lights of a twenty-four-hour hill country community. Complete with amenities such as convenient nearby shops, community pool, local clinic, community sports team, nearby schools, and an auditorium where one could hear engaging speeches by renowned speakers. Here some of the most engaging topics of the time would be discussed. These were some of the luxuries available to a select group of early San Antonio residents. Let it be noted that this was not a case of chance, but rather as a result of necessity.

Imagine not even the great depression could collapse this booming community. All right here in our own backyard. Why then are we not the economic purse of this state? How is it that this title has found its place in our sister city by the bayou? Simply put, because this particular community was a community of immigrants, created for the specific purpose of cheap labor.

Welcome to, Cementville, Texas. Founded in 1908 (1924), Cementville found its foundation strategically situated outside of what was then the city limits of San Antonio. Tasked with the responsibility of supplying a vast majority of San Antonio’s cement, it was essential to save on cost wherever an opportunity allowed. It was for this reason that the uninhabited land outside of the growing San Antonio city became the ideal place to cement such a massive workforce.

Consequently, this also isolated the immigrant workers who supplied the labor for this growing workforce, with the nearest transportation hub two miles away. Due to the isolation and the drive for economic profit, the company then known as San Antonio Portland Cement, now Alamo Cement, supplied for its workers everything they would ever need so never to have to leave or shut down.

This was the ideal solution for the progression of the city as well as the profit of the company. Although for the workers it seems to have been somewhat of a situation relative to legal slavery. While Portland Cement provided its workers living accommodations and provisions, both housing and stores were owned and operated by the Portland Cement Company, so that workers were merely recycling wages paid out for labor. Additionally, because a worker typically lived within the community with his family, if he was to get injured while on the job, he and his family were then homeless. Complete with many other amenities needed for day to day life, this tiny community flourished under this minimizing mentality well into the 1980’s before relocating further away from the city, minus their population.

So, what happened to this once thriving company community? Well as time passed and San Antonio’s expanding roads grew, the need to isolate workers became less critical. So, what became of the land that provided so much for Portland cement, San Antonio’s immigrant population, and of San Antonio itself? Today it is simply known as the Quarry Market.

Historia Para Todos!

In honor of Hispanic Heritage month (9/15-10/15), I created a book display at my library to honor and celebrate a sampling of the many iconic Hispanic figures, ranging from artists like Frida Kahlo to activists like Emma Tenayuca and Cesar Chavez. In particular I wanted to highlight the Lil’ Libros book collection, which is a series of bilingual board books, each starring a different Latin American historical figure. These colorful picture books teach fundamental concepts such as numbers, colors, and shapes, translating the text in both English and Spanish. Board books are meant for babies and toddlers so that a love of learning can be instilled at the earliest age. My heart soared when I discovered this little book series because it was a wonderful representation of mi cultura y tradiciones.

Lil’ Libros book series for children
Hispanic Heritage Book Display at Schaefer Library

The Lil’ Libro series was created by Patty Rodriguez and Arianna Stein, two pioneering Latinas who were tired of not seeing themselves represented in the books they read to their babies. The series was created with the goal of “starting the bilingual learning journey with subjects that parents feel a connection with.” The resulting book series includes subjects such as La Llorona, the weeping woman known throughout Mexican folklore,  Cantinflas, an iconic Mexican comedic film actor, and 12 other Latin American figures.

In my personal journey I’ve come to realize just how important it is for individuals to feel they have a representation of themselves, their culture and their heritage in their everyday lives. I recently attended the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was fortunate to meet an extremely diverse group of library professionals from all over the country. One workshop I attended was called “Beyond the Racial Stalemate.” During this workshop, the participants and facilitators sat in a racial healing circle. I listened as these men and women relayed stories of oppression and racial injustice they had experienced throughout their lives and professional career. It was deeply saddening but also empowering to hear how they had overcome those injustices and continue to fight prejudice in their everyday lives. A recurring theme that I came across throughout the conference was the question of why Hispanics and other minority groups do not visit libraries. The answer is that they do not see a representation of themselves within their local library. This lack of representation can take many forms — there are no Spanish speakers to make them feel more comfortable in their native tongue, the collections do not represent their needs and interests, or simply because there are no staff members or patrons who look like them. I grew up in San Antonio, surrounded by my large, loving Mexican American family and in many ways, I inhabited a protective bubble. It was not until I attended the University of Texas at Austin that I truly felt like a minority. I lacked representation of my race and culture and it was an uncomfortable feeling. I personally knew a handful of Hispanic students who left school because they missed home and the comfort it offered. Thankfully I was able to persevere and graduate, but I’ve been in those shoes and I want to help others not to feel this way.

Libraries can become more welcoming spaces for latinx by hiring a diverse workforce and Spanish speakers. Libraries can also build up their bilingual collections and forge connections with latinx community leaders and gatekeepers. The Los Angeles County Public Library has gone one step further and created the iCount Initiative in an effort to remove barriers to equity for all communities. Library Equity Action Plans (LEAPs) are targeted to specific communities, such as latinx families or LGBTQ teens. Action plans include targeted training about how best to serve these communities and allocating resources to improve the overall  library experience of the target groups.

As public historians, we have an obligation to empower cultural groups to tell their own stories. I believe we can achieve this by promoting active engagement in the past. This is one of the many reasons I love the Lil’ Libros book series. Patty Rodriguez and Arianna Stein incorporate Latin American culture into children’s books and in doing so help to make libraries a more welcoming space for Hispanic families by giving them representation. Because we all deserve to feel like our stories are worth being told. Historia para todos!

An Open Letter to Princess Ennigaldi

Princess Ennigaldi-Nanna,

I write you from 2500 years in the future, and though much has changed, and though you are long-dead, I cannot help but feel that you are a kindred spirit to the Public History student, and a role model even now to historians, teachers, and princesses.

It was you who founded the first recorded museum, created the first museum labels, and took care enough to have them translated into three languages of your time (which is more than I can say for some museums in my era). You created this museum as a tool for education, as you were both a priestess and a teacher, in addition to being the princess of Babylon. Museums are much the same now, in that they serve as tools to connect students to history, visually and physically, though access remains an issue (but I’ll delve into that a bit later).

The way that Babylonian society in Ur regarded history is much the same as society in my time regards history– we are self-interested in our own people’s past. A nostalgia and a craze for what once was is pervasive. In some ways, this acts to interest the public in their past, right the wrongs embedded in our history, and create an awareness and appreciation for the progress we’ve made now. In other ways, this longing is dangerous, beckoning some to a return to old values, glorifying the flawed past, and imbuing some with the feeling that we ought to become “Great Again”. A regard for this sort of history was not the downfall of your civilization, but sometimes I ponder if it will be the downfall of mine.

Museums have evolved and changed over time to fit the needs of the many people within a society that can benefit from a museum visit. Artifacts and artworks are no longer part of private collections, rather, they are now open to the public, to view, critique, and reflect on. Much as your father, King Nabonidus embarked to restore and preserve The Great Ziggurat of Ur, we are working in this age to restore and preserve what we find to be meaningful, and worthy of saving.

There will always be dissent about what deserves to be saved, some histories being deemed more important than others, but I think of you as being sympathetic to the histories deemed ‘less important’. Even your tale, a Princess being the first curator of the first museum of her own creation seems often forgotten, in favor of other interpretations, marking the Greeks or Romans as the first to collect and display objects. Even when your museum is within the conversation, it is not uncommon for this work to be attributed to your father, as he was known to be entranced by the history of Ur. (I firmly believe that the work is yours.)

Although there are many more museums in my time than there were in yours, it can be difficult for some to visit museums and satisfy their curiosity. Often, grand museums are too far away or too expensive for the common person to access, putting the best of the artifacts and art out of reach for low-income students and families. Just as you do, I see museums as beneficial to education and inspiration. For that reason, I hope that access improves, financially, physically, and linguistically.

I found you through curiosity, as little is truly known about you, or your first museum– only what was rediscovered by Leonard Woolley in 1922. Perhaps it is very human to collect, analyze, and showcase artifacts in a particular space. I think, at the very least, that innate curiosity exists thousands of years apart, coded into our DNA.

And so this is me, remembering you, and asking for a priestess’ blessing in my Public History endeavors.

All the Best,
Glory

What Are These Things, and Why?

If I were to ask you what your favorite piece of art is, who your your favorite artist may be, what would you say? Maybe Van Gogh or Da Vinci? Andy Warhol? Or how about if I asked you what type of art fascinated you the most? Would you say something like cubism, pointilism, or some form of abstraction? (Feel free to answer in the comments, by the way)

The form of art that perplexes me the most is that of ancient sculpture, more specifically humanoid figures carved from the Paleolithic Period to the Bronze Age. When I look at their vague or deformed bodies, carved out of marble, bones, and stones, I’m dumbstruck as to what these figures were created to do, and historians are no better off.

Venus Figures

From the Paleolithic Period or ‘Old Stone Age’, there are hundreds of ‘Venus Figures’ thought to be representative of fertility or good fortune– at least that’s historians’ best guess. The proportions of these figures are quite overblown, the stomach and breasts being far larger than the tiny feet or hands. The Venus of Willendorf is one of the best known of these figures, pictured

The Venus of Willendorf
25,000 BCE
left. The name of the figures is often disputed, as they may not be representative of love or fertility at all, as we have no way to know. Calling it a ‘Venus’ in that case, wouldn’t be fitting.

Perhaps these figures were charms, as some lacked a head, instead having a loop. Perhaps they could then be worn around one’s neck or waist. An example of this sort of design is the Venus of Hohle Fels, pictured right. This work is the oldest of the Venus figures, at 35,000 years old, the second known sculpture of representative man-made art.

“Venus of Hohle Fels” Credit: H. Jensen

But… why? What inspired ancient humans to create this type of art? Did they know that it was art? The agricultural revolution had yet to happen, meaning we still existed as hunter-getherers, roaming the plains. Life was by no means easy or sedentary, yet some old someone thought it was an important use of time and resources to produce this type of work. It’s easy to love those tenacious early humans. They had zest.

Female Cycladic Figures

Okay, so fast forward 25,000 years to the Mediterranean Sea. The Cycladic Islands, or Cyclades are over 200 small islands near both Greece and Turkey, evidenced to have interacted with Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations. Among the early figures carved of women, The Cycladic Figures are unique in that their simplicity acts as a sign of maturity, rather than being the result of primitive technology. Most of these figures are carved of marble, using obsidian as the paring tool. Like the venus figures, there are hundreds of these gals.

The viewer is able to locate simple legs, arms, breasts, and a nose. Other details such as jewelry or facial features would have been added after carving, through the use of paints. The feet are always pointed, making it impossible for the figures to stand on their own. The San Antonio Museum of Modern Art has one in their possesion, if you’d like to examine one in person.

“Female Figure” from the SAMA 2700-2200 BCE

Despite their abundance and singular origin, these figures are a mystery as well, found in tombs, shrines, and homes. The justifications for these figures are often chalked up to the same reasonings as the Venus figures– fertility, protection, etc.

Interesting to note about the Cycladic Figures, there was once a craze for Cycladic Art that led to grave robbings and figures being ill-gotten. It is unsurprising that the SAMA would have one of these figures in its collection, but it makes one curious as to how this figure was acquired, though it was donated by a private individual. That may well remain just as much of a mystery.

So… do you love these figures yet? Are they strange to you? Are they super-boring stuffy old art? It’s interesting to ponder when we decided as a species to create things in our image, or abstracted, in an imaginary image. What is the origin of art? What do you think?

Girl Meets Public History

I was sitting in the living with my little sister binge-watching, “Girl Meets World” one afternoon.  For those who may be unfamiliar with this tv show, it is a spin-off of the main characters fictional children from, “Boy Meets World.”  Both of these tv shows were/are known to touch on controversial and political topics, such as the episode my sister and I were watching.  This episode was about identity and family history.

The students in the show were assigned to do research about their family history to find out “who they are.”  The teacher leaves it open for interpretation and the plot line goes on.  One of the main characters acts very somberly about the family history, and at the end of the episode, we find out his great-grandfather was Jewish and was the only one to survive because another family adopted him when he ran away.

My little sister and I began talking about the family histories that we know of — the history of my great-great-grandfather making his way to the United States for the first time, my grandfather running away from Peru because the mafia was after him or that my great-great grandmother lived to be past 100 yearsold and played the Piano at her church in Peru.  Some of these we know are elaborated, but some tell the children of the hardships it took to make it in the United States and to remember what our ancestors did for us.  My mom would jump in every now and then on the conversation reminiscing on the stories being told or when she first heard them.  With a family member recently passing, it felt bittersweet to reflect on these memories but empowering knowing that memory is what is keeping them alive still.

TV shows don’t always hit the nail. However, I think this episode did a beautiful job to show children, pre-teens/teens, and adults that family histories can be very important.  The weight of family histories doesn’t always resonate with people, especially those living in one place for a long time.  The generations failed to pass down stories of old family members or memories of when times were very different.  Sometimes families’ stories are taken away through colonization or death.   Social memory of events that occurred can also die or thrive through family histories. Public History can open doors to help teach people ways to preserve their history because from family, to local, to national and global, all these histories connect.  Family histories not only tell the stories of a specific family’s past but also guide the listener to what the political, social and economic times were like for that group of people during a certain time.  All histories are intertwined and dependent on one another.

Public historians have the privilege with access to this knowledge so I think it is important that we also apply this to our family histories.  It is important to ask questions about your family background to have a deeper appreciation and connection with family histories.  One can say, “Oh, my family has been here forever. We don’t have a history.” But I would argue, look around you, look at what shapes you and influences what you do, then ask yourself why? You can do all the DNA testing we want on ourselves but our true identity lies within the culture that is familiar to us, that raised us, that fed us.

I will leave some pointers for families to preserve these forms of knowledge and conduct your own oral histories!:

  • Interview your elderly family members. There are journals that can be purchased that have interview questions in them to help guide you or you can come up with your own. Make sure the handwriting is neat if written down
  • Ask if they have photographs, journals, newspapers etc. These are important because these are primary sources that can help for future research
  • Ask you parents questions! Interviewing your parents and asking questions about recipes or traditions they practiced as a child can help maintain a sense of identity.
  • MAKE FOOD FROM FAMILY RECIPES! I constantly argue that cooking helps maintain oral traditions because the smells and recipes can bring back memories and stories of older times.

 

Having lunch with Google: Project Ocean and the future of history research

Which historical figure would you have lunch with? 

I love great discussions. Not discussions about the weather, but rather discussions about the great things in life like, “What motivates you and why?”, “What might have happened if…?”, “How does the study of the past help in planning for the future?”.  There are a good number of questions that are great to ask if you really want to break through the usual chit chat and really create a dialogue with someone. Unfortunately, I have seen a decline in these conversations in the last couple of decades.  One particularly fun question I have heard a few times is a variation of “If you could have lunch with any historical figure who would it be and why? What questions would you ask this person?”

Is history important? If so, why?

While the lunch question is a great question to start a discussion, I am curious about the purpose behind the question. My guess is that an honest response will give you insight into a person’s deepest held values or curiosities. We ask deep questions because we care to know the answers and in talking to others it helps us build relationships. While this lunch question is largely a way to get to know someone better it can also lead us to understand if and why history is important to others and why it matters. If history is important and we are living in a digital age, what exactly are the implications for the future? One topic that keeps coming to mind is the possibility of a future universal library and how that might affect how we study and curate history.

A universal library? 

You might be thinking that the idea of digitizing everything into a universal collection is a crazy idea but we might be closer than you think. If you look at recent history since the dot com boom in the early nineties we have been living in an age preparing us for this very idea.  Think about the way you consume music, media, even the way we turn in homework assignments. The world wide web is a relatively recent invention and still allows for the online cataloging of vast amounts of information available at your fingertips at a moments notice.  In an age where information is so readily available why does it seem that it is harder to determine which sources are reliable and which are not? A simple one word answer might be, Google.

Google and solving disagreements 

Admit it. You have had a disagreement with a friend that has ended in the sentence, “Let’s find out right now, let me Google it real quick.” The real challenge is choosing a source that you and your friend will both agree is a fair and correct answer to an important disagreement.  While that might work with a disagreement over details like plain facts, it won’t solve a disagreement over why you believe one source to be more trustworthy than another. How do we solve this problem? My best answer lays somewhere between educating more citizens to think critically and providing access to more information for citizens to more quickly research and discuss a topic. Going back to the idea of a universal library, wouldn’t it be great if you could look up all of the printed books and search through them for answers? Google has attempted and actually almost succeeded in this endeavor. 

Project Ocean? Google Books and the controversy 

While the history of Project Ocean and Google Books is less than twenty years old, it is technically at the intersection between current policy debate about copyright and historical innovation leading to new technology and new ways of accessing information. Business Insider wrote a quick blog post about the basic details in 2013 that highlights the controversy and recommends a documentary if you want more information. The Atlantic has a great article likening the Google Books saga to Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria. Fortune magazine recently highlighted Google’s twenty years of growth and provided a helpful timeline for our understanding of their growth. The Guardian offered some significant perspective on the controversy by juxtaposing two of my favorite subjects, philanthropy and piracy.  Ultimately there were challenges by major competitors as well as authors who were worried about their copyrights.

Google Books today and working with copyrighted materials

Google Books actually got around to digitizing over 25 million books before they ran into legal challenges and settled into a new plan. The idea of a digital collective providing resources available to all may not have come to completion but it got a heck of a kick start. So what kind of opportunities and tools has this digitization project created? While researchers looking for information and businesses looking to profit off of new business models are both eager to continue building a digital collaborative, the result of this attempt to digitize as many books as possible has led to the creation of the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

Hathi Trust Digital Library and analyzing copyrighted books 

Read more about the Hathi Trust Digital Library and how it provides a workaround in the form of a ‘Data Capsule’. Below is a quick explanation of how researchers can use a Data Capsule to conduct analysis of some copyrighted materials.

The HathiTrust Research Center allows Underwood and others to work with copyrighted materials. “I can’t physically get the texts under copyright, or distribute them, but I can work inside a secure Data Capsule and measure the things I need to measure to do research,” he says. “So it’s not like my projects have to come to a screeching halt in 1923,” he says. (That’s the year that marks the Great Divide between materials that have come into the public domain and those still locked out of it.)

A Data Capsule is a secure, virtual computer that allows what’s known as “non-consumptive” research, meaning that a scholar can do computational analysis of texts without downloading or reading them. The process respects copyright while enabling work based on copyrighted materials.

New tools and future conversations with history

While Google Books has an amazing history and has led to some interesting research tools in the present, what comes next?  Google just announced a search tool powered by artificial intelligence this year that will attempt to answer any question you have by reading thousands of books as a reference point as a result of Google Books. This new tool is called “Talk to Books” and I’m sure it is something that you will want to try out as it is in it’s early stages. Remember how I asked which historical figure you would have lunch with and what questions you would ask? What if Google tried to simulate that conversation? We aren’t there yet, but like I said before we aren’t too far off either. Get your questions ready. We might soon get a simulated response.