Sydney's Past, History's Future: The Dictionary of Sydney

Lisa Murray, Emma Grahame

Abstract

The Dictionary of Sydney www.dictionaryofsydney.org is a ground breaking, multimedia city biography that can present the history of metropolitan Sydney on the web, in your hand and on the street. Through its historical model the digital repository allows historical elements to be classified, connected, geo-referenced and mapped through space and time. By combining the fine-grained with the global, the histories in the Dictionary mirror the experience of the metropolis – the intimate and the personal interact with the impersonal and indeed often random nature of city life. A purely digital history redefines the possibilities for urban history and public history. This paper will introduce the Dictionary of Sydney, share some of the challenges and joys of building a digital history, and reflect upon the ways digital history as a publication form is shaping and changing the practice of public history.

Keywords

Digital History; Public History; City Encyclopedias; Urban History; Historical Modelling

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