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David A. Kirsch <email@example.com>
Robert H. Smith School of Business
I am currently the primary investigator for a Sloan Foundation-sponsored archival project intended to collect documents and experiences from dot com companies founded during the recently concluded internet boom. The website for the project is http://www.businessplanarchive.org.
|Address:||4544 Van Munching Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland 20742
|List Affiliations:||List Editor for H-Business
|Interests:||American History / Studies
Business History / Studies
History of Science, Medicine, and Technology
Library and Information Science
Research and Methodology
Urban History / Studies
Women, Gender, and Sexuality
My first major research project was a cultural history of the electric vehicle set in the context of the emergence of the American automobile industry. In addition to my dissertation (Stanford, History of Technolgoy, 1997) and the resulting book (_The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History_, Rutgers, 2000), I have also co-authored two articles with Gijs Mom, one on the history of electric trucks (_Technology and Culture_, 2001) and another on electric taxicabs (_Business History Review_, 2002).
In the course of that research, I also attempted to use the internet / web to collect information from contemporary users of electric vehicles, in effect trying to produce archival materials of the sort that I could not find for the period 1890-1920. That project, known as EVonline, was part of a larger effort to begin to use the internet as a research tool for acquiring primary historical materials that would otherwise be too expensive or impossible to acquire. The initial results were promising, and future scholars will know a great deal more about this generation of electric vehicle drivers than I was able to learn about first generation drivers, but I also learned a lot about what can go wrong with large web-based projects.
My current project on the history of the companies and culture of the dot com era attempts to document a larger phenomenon, namely the dot com bubble, using some of the same techniques developed for EVonline. Again, there are primary materials and important personal perspectives that simply cannot be preserved using traditional methods. In 2100, when historians gather to discuss the late 20th century, they will need the kinds of materials that I am collecting today to make sense of these interesting times.
I hope to bring a heightened methodological awareness of these types of issues to my work with H-Net.
Finally, it is important to note that I teach in a business school rather than a traditional history department, and my perspective is strongly informed by the intersection of historical sensemaking with the need for prospective managerial decision making.