Tona Hangen

Best of the Vernacular Web

Just posting here to call attention to a new page of mine elsewhere on the site, a small project of mine this morning (like I have nothing better to do, 2 days before classes start – but this is more fun). The “vernacular web” is a term coined/promoted by Dan Cohen, director of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. As opposed to the “official web” of government, higher education, and big business (typically made by professional web designers), the vernacular web is everything else out there online: “the web that is out there,” as he puts it.

In my daily blogroll on Google Reader, I’ve got some sites that occasionally pop up something I think would be useful for myself or my students. Many of these come from Chris Wild’s fascinating “old stuff” content aggregator called “How to Be A Retronaut,” others from the well-written blog of the Encyclopedia Britannica staff, and a few from other sources. I’m calling these vernacular web because they’re often not well sourced, or they’re uploaded onto YouTube from dubious/unknown sources, or they might be a simple capsule of appealing images without any metadata. I curate these in an ongoing way by starring them or sharing them in Google Reader (feel free to follow my shared items), but thought I’d also make a simple list of some of my favorites just to keep them all in one place. They mostly relate to my areas of teaching: late 19th and 20th century history, popular culture, media, health/quackery, carnivals & amusement parks, roadside culture, and the American west. Links degrade, so caveat emptor and all that.

If someone wanted to help me out in the comments, you could tell how I can automate this list. Can I tag items in Google Reader by category? Send them to a Tumblr account? Plug them into public Zotero folders? Ideas?
Read the full list here.

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Header Image: Adapted from Niki Feijens

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