The theme of this event is ‘scale’. Lately in digital humanities, we’ve tended to think about big scales – big data, longue durée. But what about the very small? In this session, I propose that we work together to ‘digitise’ a single day from the past, thinking about not only what that challenge means, but also what we can find out about the value of computers for understanding the small and the mundane. What does a digitised day look like? How much survives? Can we build a coherent picture? Picture of what?
I’d like to propose Friday 6 February 1789 as our case study. For most people then living, it was a very normal day. But for King George III, it was the first day his doctors allowed him to use his knife and fork, after an extended period of mental health problems. Thus, for George, it was an extraordinary day.
Drawing on our various experiences and disciplinary backgrounds, I hope you’ll help me explore the challenge of bringing together the various digital traces of a scant 24 hours from long ago. In the process I suspect we will be reorganizing the archive from one typically categorised by creator into one that emphasises a moment with innumerable perspectives.
I hope you’ll join me.
Digital History Research Centre,
University of Hertfordshire