New methods, new resources and Jewish Studies

Historians conducting research on diasporas have traditionally mined family letters, diaries, ephemera, newspapers, oral histories etc. in order to compose coherent narratives of dispersion that go beyond official accounts. Today, such primary sources are increasingly being digitized, born-digital or created online as blogs, e-mails, tweets, and social network sites posts that compose a vast universe of already digital, computationally malleable data. While the value of primary sources before lay in their uniqueness, online data are best understood in volume. This paradigm shift in what consists a record requires that historians apply new methods and approaches in order to conduct scholarship.
What is the situation then in Jewish Studies? What are scholars of Jewish history doing in this landscape? How has or will this affect our research? What new methods and sources do we use? Are any methods more applicable to Jewish topics than others?
I would like to discuss the above not only with people who are already mining web resources and applying new methods, but also with people who are just starting, or planning to start, on this–and particularly with people who are skeptical of assigning value to online material.
I have just started working on my dissertation, where I want to explore this topic and am interested in a discussion both on the theoretical, as well as practical level.

Categories: General