Gumbrecht, Presner, Shepard, and Kawano are trying to introduce unorthodox yet clever and multidimensional ways of presenting history such that patterns become more evident and large scale deductions can be made by taking into account the mass data that is accumulated and presented. Both techniques base their idea off of the assertion that so far the presentation of History has been a very linear approach, showing a conglomerate of timelines and dates instead of change over time. Gumbrecht tried to present the year 1926 in a way such that no matter how you read the book, you came away with a general sense of what 1926 was like instead of a dry, linear presentation. Presner/Shepard/Kawano show a slightly different method. They figure that the amount of data they hope to have at their disposal will be so large and fluid, that print simply could not contain. They hope that in the future, an extension of the web can be used to synthesize, extract, graph, plot, map, and manipulate massive amounts of historical data in a fluid and expressive way that will allow them to observe essentially the passage of history from its largest to its smallest form.
I believe that Gumbrecht’s approach wasn’t as informative as I was lead to believe. It was essentially a series of articles that linked together, allowing you to tangent from one to another without really expressing patterns. The only way I could see this being a key component of a musicologist’s arsenal is to give wide, yet specific knowledge about certain aspects of contemporary history, or rather contemporary to the era being written about. This would be rather difficult as many people would be necessary to complete this, all needing a certain amount of educational and writing prowess. The problem with this approach is that text can only be a singular path of data, you cannot say more than one thing at a time unfortunately.
I am intrigued about Presner, Shepard, and Kawano’s approach. “HyperCities” seems like a very powerful tool that a music historian can use. The main idea of HyperCities is that it contains as much information as possible, and in the digital age, this is possible. To have all the data sitting there, just needing it to be arranged in a fashion to the historians needs, seems like the next way of analyzing big data historically. The key aspect of this method is its unique approach on dealing with the passage of time, in this case it is another variable that is added to the data. This would allow a historian to easily monitor how data changes over the course of time, which is a central pillar of historical study.