Today at Researchers Anonymous, I had a big going-away party in the form of a two-hour lecture. I titled it “Santa Cruz Trains & Researching in the Digital Age”. It went overwhelmingly well and I timed it perfectly, including the ten-minute intermission. I decided against advertising the event publicly since it really wasn’t intended for the public but rather other researchers.
I’ve posted the slide-show for the event here accessible by the “Lecture” link above or from here. A video recording of the event should be available in a little while. I planned to do audio but ran into problems with my slideshow and sort of just forgot to record the event. Hopefully the video catches most of it.
In the end, I actually proved many of my points, which was great. Virtually every question that was asked I was able to answer in a satisfactory manner. Many questions were answered through later slides, as well, which means I anticipated them. More importantly, though, was my ultimate point: history should be crowdsourced. I made this point near the end of the lecture and I proved it after the end when no less than five people approached me offering help and information. Of those, one offered me access to her photo and map collection, three offered me tours of their properties (or adjacent properties), and one offered me the contact information for someone who may have some photographs and information.
This is the core element of crowdsourcing—a sort of ask for something and get everything. Crowdsourcing doesn’t have to involve money, it can be information, or access, or just an ear to help work out problems. That is one of the purposes of this blog, even, to allow myself as a historian to work out problems and announce discoveries. This is not a historical blog, this is a historiographical blog—it’s purpose is to document the process of researching. And while I don’t do that job perfectly, I do it as best as I am able.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me or plans to help me in the future. I truly appreciate it and I hope every one of you I remember to reference in my book as a contributor because you earned it.