The February 2016 issue of the American Historian features three compelling essays on “Technology.” Laura Micheletti Puaca examines the history of women in engineering and argues that despite some recent advances, women continue to face barriers and discrimination in engineering fields much like they did over a century ago. Fredrick W. Gibbs argues that visual representations of big data must be subject to the same interrogation and scrutiny as the historical narrative. After all, Gibbs posits, the written narrative, at its most basic, is a visual representation of data and all visual representations of data, no matter what form they take, must be critiqued. Finally, Hector Postigo examines the changing meaning of labor in a digital age and argues that the information economy has “not seen deskilling or automation” as some have feared. Rather, laborers and companies have struggled with how place a value on workers’ output as it becomes increasingly digital and intangible.
The issue also includes a piece by W. Caleb McDaniel on the efficacy of teaching the “backward” survey—that is, instead of starting a class in the past and moving forward in time, the class starts in the present and moves backwards, and Mark M. Smith offers a historiography on the history of the senses. Finally, Charles Postel poses the question: If both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are labeled “Populists,” then what does the term mean, and looks to history to uncover the answer. We also have an essay from OAH president Jon Butler on the value of uncertainty in the teaching and writing of history, as well as interesting historical facts and tidbits in our Ante and Post sections.
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