Spread of the web and internet technologies have increased interaction with and among different communities, allowing new modes of writing history. For historians the web promises new opportunities, especially if related to more recent events.
EVOnline: Electrical Vehicle User/Driver Profile
This survey provides quantitative and qualitative data on electric vehicles and usage patterns spanning the entrance of major corporate players into the automobile industry (GM, Honda, Toyota). The feedback has been fairly successfuly due to recruitment efforts from the project team (such as presentations at Electric Car Clubs and shows) and an electronically well connected Electric Vehicle (EV) - community. Survey data reveals that the "hobbyist" EV movement is slowly giving way to the established manufacturers. Kirsch also found out that EV drivers own more than on EV. Qualitative responses underscore the enthusiasm of the EV drivers for their vehicles even as they admit the limits of the new technology.
The EVonline project team received some invaluable on-line contributions such as a battery evaluation report and some personal EV chronicles. Together with the survey-data such documentation forms the basis for future, more extensive research. Should this technology fail, if electric vehicles never enter transportation mainstream, EVonline will be a potentially valuable resource to future scholars interested in technological failure.
The Blackout History Project: What Happens When a Mature Technology Fails?
Jim Sparrow tailored his survey to two different target communities. The Blackout Experience Survey is aimed at the random 'Blackout survivor' who was old enough at the time to remember it. Here, Sparrow is interested in learning more about the social and psychological aspects of a large technological system at the point of consumption, its failure and impact on consumers. Participants are asked if the blackouts caused any profound crisis, how they affected their daily reliance on electricity. Their feedback builds the collective memory of these two events. Members of the electric utility are asked to convey their technical understanding of these power failures by completing the Electric Utility survey adding another layer to the community memory.
In the case of the Blackout History the on-line surveys serve as tools to reach multiple audiences. The survey results will be displayed immediately after submission and are connected with the rest of the material on the site via full-text search. In other words: if visitors conduct searches the survey-results will be part of that search.
The MouseSite - creator, Tim Lenoir, seeks to engage former colleagues and collaborators of Douglas Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse and pioneer in the field of human-computer interaction, in a series of on-going interactive forums on several categories:
The discussion fora on the Making PCR - web site target the inventors of the polymerase chain reaction for comments by regularly posting provocative statements.