Science and Hollywood merge

•November 22, 2008 • 2 Comments

Read the article here at New Scientist about science and Hollywood merging to bring science facts to the public. I raise the question that a similar thing has occurred ith history.

In one respect this is similar to what historians face in the wake of innaccurate history portrayed in films and TV. Historic movies from the begining alter history to dramatize storylines and work within budgets. What the public sees generally becomes the new history–a distortion of facts–which stays in the historic memory, so much so, it becomes a mythology, one that overrides the historic record. 

While showing scientific facts has a purpose, it will no doubt run the gauntlet of obstacles history faces, leading to a population that not only thinks incorrectly about history, but eventually about science.



•November 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Am I really writing this blog?

Could you tell if I was? Probably not. Not unless you compared it to other posthumous blogs I might be writing. Truth be told, ghost blogging is a real fact. Business people, the famous, writers, small businesses, you name it… to stay current and trendy having a blog can be an important feature to one’s day to day business and interaction. One easily hires an agency or writer to write it for them. Notes, pictures, details, are sent over the web and a person forms them into their own words. The recent movie Sex in the City showed Carrie Bradshaw, a writer, hiring a writer to run her blog. It’s the norm these days, really.

As historians, what does this do for recording history and thought. What if Dr. Goodbody, an expert in Medieval Studies, a woman ahead of her game, who recently discovered a lost medieval document. Her blog details her research, her thoughts, discoveries. The world reads her blog daily hoping to learn as much as they can as soon as they can. Students insert information they acquire from her blog into their papers. Newspapers run stories. The world begins delivering Dr. Goodbody’s information all around the world, to iphones and blackberry’s. Now, what if Dr. Goodbody is too damn busy to write her own blog. She hires someone to do it. Is it the same? Is it still historically sound?

Studying the colonial captive narratives written by Cotton Mather for a captive could be similar. We get the opinion, experience of the captive, but through Mather’s eyes. There is a sense of bias isn’t there. One componen that the ENG 565 class identified, with Dr. Hermes heading up, is that it is clearly written from a male perspective. The woman is indentified in the shadow of her role in the family. Bias is interpretive. Captive narratives like blogs can have a sense of bias if they are written by someone else.

In digital history, we’ve discussed the accuracy of blogs to deliver content and information. How does ghost writing raise the question of authenticity?

HST: Historic Standard Time

•November 12, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Recollections like the ones at the Pearl Harbor site, Cohen mentions, denote a sense of reflection, but is this akin to right reflection–will there be more nostalgia, mis-information, forgotten passages–should there be a standard historic time frame to collect current history–a time standard to all historic projects to assure quality and consistency in interviews?

Cohen and the True History

•November 12, 2008 • Leave a Comment


Collecting history as it happens brings up an interesting dialogue, one I liken to the journal-syndrome. Cohen’s ideology that the breath of history as it is happening, 9-11 as an example, should be saved and recorded, may not be the most logical practice. Consider yourself keeping a journal. You start with your day, the details, the mundane events, and then suddenly, a crisis occurs, a mini catastrophe. You record a full range of emotions. A few days later, your attitude may change. Over more time your perspective changes again. Which is the real, true historical moment and feeling? Had someone interviewed me hours after the second plane attacked, and then again the next day, and then again a week later, then again a month later, (as the patriot act was ripping citizen’s right’s in the name of terror), a couple months further, and let’s just move along to today. Each would differ in opinion, knowledge, worldview. But this is only for me, because, if you talk to some people today, they may feel exactly the same as they did the first hour. But as a historian, which version is the true story.

I pose the question to Dan Cohen, that perhaps when blogs disappear there is a reason. Maybe the person’s conviction isn’t what they wished to be left to posterity and historic record.

Public History and integrating the public

•November 5, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Here is an interesting story about what others are currently doing to bridge the public with history:


2008 Great Park Program Series Draw Thousands

Last update: 8:03 p.m. EDT Oct. 23, 2008
IRVINE, Calif., Oct 23, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — The Orange County Great Park Board today was treated to a variety of presentations highlighting many of the successful Great Park programs. Presentations included the continuing work of the Great Park history programs, recognition of the Park’s first sponsors of Park programs, highlights of the Festival of Flights and a recap of the summer concert and dance series. Marsha Burgess, the Corporation’s Manager of Public Affairs, highlighted the Park’s many record-breaking public events and relayed that the public events serve to create a bond between and among diverse cultures of Orange County by bringing people together at the Park through shared experiences.
“More than 50,000 people attended the summer events at the Great Park,” said Larry Agran, Chair, Orange County Great Park Board Corporation. “The outstanding attendance is proof positive that the Orange County Great Park is a new and exciting entertainment venue for Orange County. And, I would like to thank AT&T and Kaiser Permanente our summer program sponsors for their generous support.”
Visitors to the Great Park can now learn about the historical elements of the Park through the efforts of the Great Park History Program. Program elements include the Walkable Timeline, the Legacy Project’s many photographic collections, the Oral History Project, archival efforts and the Registry Project. Each of these projects capture notable events throughout the former base’s history – all documented in a different medium. The Walkable Timeline lists world historical events starting with 1943, when the initial air station was first built. The Legacy Project uses photography to document El Toro and its transformation to the Great Park. The Oral History Program has now chronicled 150 oral histories of men and women whose life experiences while at El Toro will now be preserved for generations to come. The Registry Project currently contains 6,777 names and dates of people who were stationed or worked at El Toro throughout its history.
The Board of Directors also learned about the recent El Toro Homecoming event. More than 60 men and women who were stationed at, worked on, or somehow had their lives touched by the historic El Toro Marine Corps Air Station were honored by the Orange County Great Park Corporation at the El Toro Homecoming event held on October 2, 2008. The El Toro Homecoming paid tribute to those who shared and documented their El Toro life memories through the Great Park Oral History Program, a collaboration with California State University Fullerton’s Center for Oral and Public History.
The Board also received an update on the 2008 Ambassador program. Visitors to the summer events were assisted by the Ambassadors, a group of youth and senior volunteers. The Ambassador participants gave presentations to community groups, served as balloon docents, and provided invaluable help during summer special events. A total of 150 presentations throughout August and September were given to a wide range of community organizations.
Finally, Great Park staff shared successes with the Board including the July 12, 2008, Festival of Flight which drew approximately 12,000 people who enjoyed balloon rides, kite flying demonstrations, birds of prey, food, entertainment and children’s activities. Great Park Balloon night flights were also launched and kicked off the summer Night Flights dance and concert series, which was presented by the Great Park and the Irvine Barclay Theatre. On Friday nights, live dance bands performed in front of Hangar 244. The dance floor became increasingly more crowded as the summer progressed with over 1,500 people attending the final performance by Pete Jacobs Radio Wartime Revue.
On Saturday nights, the Great Park was an arts and culture destination. A wide range of styles of music were provided throughout the summer from Chicano-folk rock, to Celtic fiddling, to flamenco dancing and salsa. Thousands of guests were entertained in the distinctive setting of the Preview Park after dark.
“This year’s public events far surpassed our goals,” said Marsha Burgess. “We look forward to building on the successes of this past year; we look forward to more residents enjoying the Park as we bring new events to the Great Park next year.”
The Orange County Great Park is located on the site for the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station in Irvine. Visitors to the Park can now enjoy balloon flights and picnics in the Preview Park. Recently, an historic PV-1 Ventura night fighter plane, a type of plane that once flew out of El Toro Marine Corps Air Station was donated to the Great Park for its future Great Park Aviation Museum project.
When completed, the Orange County Great Park will be a 1,347 acre metropolitan park. It will provide a wide array of active and passive uses, including a 2.5 mile canyon and lake, miles of walking and biking trails, a cultural terrace, Orange County’s largest sports park and a botanical garden.
For more information, please go to
SOURCE Orange County Great Park

Obama and technology

•November 5, 2008 • Leave a Comment

New Scientist has a grand article on Obama’s vision for technology and science.


and also on climate change:

Who owns history? part 1

•November 5, 2008 • Leave a Comment

The History Channel, a  topic of class discussion. Who owns it and how is the parent skewing or influencing for good or ill what you view? How is military history and the war considered and delivered by the History Channel? 

Parent company: General Electric

Owns: Military Production: Manufactures and maintains engines for the F-16 Fighter jet, Abrams tank, Apache helicopter, U2 Bomber, Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV), A-10 aircraft, and numerous military equipment including planes, helicopters, tanks, and more.

Parks: Universal Studios Theme Parks and Resorts (Orlando, FL; Hollywood, CA; Costa Durada, Spain; Universal City, Japan)

Consumer Products: NBC Stores, ShopNBC


  • Tivo (part)
  • GE Commercial Finance: GE Capital Aviation Services, GE Commercial Equipment Financing, GE Corporate Financial Services, GE Structured Finance Global Energy Unit, GE Fleet Services, GE Healthcare Financial Services, GE Real Estate, GE Vendor Financial Services
  • GE Advanced Materials (engineering of thermoplastics, silicon-based products and technology platforms, and fused quartz and ceramics).
  • GE Consumer & Industrial (appliances, lighting, and Industrial Systems).
  • GE Energy (technology for the oil and gas, power generation and energy management industries, including nuclear)
  • GE Healthcare (diagnostic and interventional medical imaging, information and services technology)
  • GE Infrastructure (comprised of GE Water Technologies, GE Silicones, GE Superabrasives, and GE Quartz, commercial aviation financing, and serves various industries including cosmetics, semi-conductors, oil drilling, construction and telecommunications)
  • GE Insurance (insurance and investment products for businesses and individuals)
  • GE Money
  • GE Transportation (serving the aviation, rail, marine and off-highway industries with jet engines for military and civil aircraft, freight and passenger locomotives, motorized systems for mining trucks and drills, and gas turbines for marine and industrial applications)

Television networks: NBC Networks, Telemundo

Cable: A&E, History Channel (part), NBC Entertainment, NBC News, NBC Sports, NBC Television, NBC Universal, CNBC, CNBC World (Arabia, India, Asia, Europe), MSNBC, Bravo, Sci Fi Channel, Sundance Channel (part), Trio, Telemundo, USA, and Weather Plus

Production and distribution companies: NBC Universal Television Studio, NBC Universal Television Distribution

26 television stations, owned under the “NBC Universal” division. These include NBC affiliates, Univision affiliates, and a small number of independents.

International Channels: 13eme Rue (France), 13th Street (Germany), Calle 13 (Spain), Sci Fi Channel UK, Studio Universal (Germany), Studio Universal (Italy), Universal Channel (Latin America), CNBC Asia, and CNBC Europe

Programming: NBC Network News, NBC Universal Global Networks, NBC Universal International Channels, The Today Show, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, Dateline NBC, Meet the Press, Early Today, CNBC, Squawk Box, Mad Money, Tim Russert, CNBC World, CNBC Arabia, CNBC-India TV-18, Hardball with Chris Matthews, The Rita Cosby Specials Unit, Morning Joe, Mun2, Sleuth, A&E [part], The History Channel [part], The Sundance Channel [part], ShopNBC (27%), Ion Media Networks, Universal HD.

Production: NBC Universal (80% ownership): Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Rogue Pictures. Universal has production agreements with Imagine Entertainment, Jersey Films, Tribeca Films, Shady Acres, the Kennedy/Marshall Company, Playtone Company, Strike Entertainment, Type A Films, Depth of Field, Stephen Sommers and Working Title Films (Europe)

Distribution: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Magazines: SciFi Magazine,,,,,, (a joint venture between NBC Universal and News Corp.)