Introduction and Index for Virtual Histories, Real Time Challenges Seminar

This one day symposium, held in July 1999, was jointly organised by the State Library of New South Wales and the Australian Historical Association, in association with the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, Australian National University. The goal of the symposium was to stimulate discussion of issues associated with the use of web-based hypermedia web of interest to historians, librarians, history teachers and policy makers.

Malcolm Gillies, President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, gave the keynote address entitled ‘Virtual Histories: Facts, Contexts and Interpretations’.

Philippa Martyr discussed the challenges and problems facing historians in web-based teaching.

This was followed by Kym McCauley who gave a theoretical overview of electronic information provision and hypertext as well as problems he has encountered in providing access to digital data.

Practical examples from libraries followed with an overview, by Creagh Cole, of the Scholarly Electronic Text and Imaging Service (SETIS) project at the University of Sydney. Creagh Cole is placing a large number of Australian electronic texts of historical and literary material on the web. Ross Coleman spoke about the Australian Cooperative Digitsation Project 1840-45, with which the State Library has been closely involved over the last four years.

Paul Scifleet, Public and Education Programs, State Library of New South Wales, spoke about standards and the need for encoding archival and other collections.

Adrian Vickers showed a very sophisticated CD-ROM game which will be used to teach students about Dutch traders in the East Indies.

Geoff Gillan discussed Multimedia History and its Historiographical Precursors.

Cameron Paterson, from the History Teacher’s Association, provided an insight into the use of technology to teach history in the year 7-12 environment.

Additional virtual contributions included a paper by Craig Bellamy: The Web, Hypertext and History: A Critical Introduction.

Evaluation of the conference