jerryking + historians + contextual   2

Past mistakes carry warnings for the future of work
May 21, 2019 | Financial Times | by SARAH O'CONNOR.

* Data can mislead unless combined with grittier insights on the power structures that underpin it.
* William Kempster, a master mason who worked on St Paul's Cathedral in the 18th century, left wage records that helped expose a flaw in our understanding of the past.

It is often said that we should learn from the mistakes of the past. But we can also learn from the mistakes we make about the past. Seemingly smooth data can mislead unless it is combined with a grittier insight into the structures, contracts and power relationships that underpin the numbers. On that score, economists and politicians who want to make sense of today’s labour market have an advantage over historians: it is happening right now, just outside their offices, in all its complexity and messiness. All they have to do is open the door
17th_century  18th_century  builders  contextual  data  datasets  developing_countries  economic_history  economists  freelancing  gig_economy  handwritten  historians  human_cloud_platforms  insights  labour_markets  London  messiness  mistakes  politicians  power_relations  power_structures  record-keeping  United_Kingdom  unstructured_data  wages  white-collar 
may 2019 by jerryking
David McCullough’s History Lessons
April 14, 2017 | WSJ | By Alexandra Wolfe.

David McCullough thinks that the country isn’t in such bad shape. It’s all relative, says the 83-year-old historian and author of such books as the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographies “Truman” (1992) and “John Adams” (2001). He points to the Civil War, for instance, when the country lost 2% of its population—that would be more than six million people today—or the flu pandemic of 1918, when more than 500,000 Americans died. “Imagine that on the nightly news,” he says.

History gives us a sense of proportion, he says: “It’s an antidote to a lot of unfortunately human trends like self-importance and self-pity.”.....see history “as an aid to navigation in such troubled, uncertain times,”.....[McCullough] thought back to something that the playwright and novelist Thornton Wilder had said while a fellow at Yale during Mr. McCullough’s undergraduate days. When Wilder heard a good story and wished to see it on the stage, he wrote the play himself. When he wanted to read a book about an interesting event, he wrote it himself.....Even today, Mr. McCullough doesn’t use a computer for research or writing. He still goes to libraries and archives to find primary sources and writes on a typewriter. ...History, he adds, is “often boiled down to statistics and dates and quotations that make it extremely boring.” The key to generating interest, he says, is for professors and teachers to frame history as stories about people.
archives  authors  biographies  Civil_War  contextual  David_McCullough  DIY  flu_outbreaks  Harry_Truman  historians  history  John_Adams  libraries  self-importance  self-pity  sense_of_proportion  storytelling  Pulitzer_Prize 
april 2017 by jerryking

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