Bonus Features and Deleted Scenes: WordPress and its role in Historical Research by Dean Guarnaschelli

The role of technology in research becomes more refined as time goes on. Without doubt, there is a type of digital tool that can enhance any academic field today, from comparative literature to engineering and on to exercise science.

It can be argued that the role software technology plays for historians can be divided into two categories, it’s use ‘during research’ and ‘while researching’. This distinction, which upon first glance seems trivial, was however, never as ‘real’ as it is today. In other words, historians have a unique option in the digital age to use technology to conduct their research and also to share it while the research is ongoing for some very beneficial collaborative, developmental and marketing reasons. The work that leads up to a final historical contribution could be chronicled with ‘bonus features’ that show what was discovered and how. The ‘deleted scenes’ of a dissertation or chronicle are not unimportant; historians sometimes change direction to satisfy a new curiosity.

WordPress is a CMS (content management system) that meets the needs of documenting and disseminating historians’ work. This component of research allows scholars to not just ‘share’ the focus of their current project, but also to allow the evolution of ideas to do what it does best–to open new paths for gaining insight. Our field of World History has undergone many ‘overhauls’ over the decades; one catalyst today for the exploration and inclusion of the formerly marginalized sub-histories is our current technology.

WordPress provides all of the hoped for simplicity in terms of setting up a website dedicated to a historical endeavor. The feedback from other scholars and educators is present from the start and the support needed to run a digital forum is optimal. This part of the software phenomenon that we all witnessed this decade is sound, accessible and a motivation to communicate online with others trained in our discipline.

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