Public History

Project Progress Report 3/22/21

For this week’s progress report the number of curated items are now over a 100. Also, the contribution feature has been implemented and successfully tested. Once you start to have dozens of items you start to get a better feel of the collections and can start thinking more about what type of exhibits you want to develop. For “Mapping the Civil War” I have decided to try to present at least three “stories” or exhibits for my public launching of the site.

While collecting the items and uploading the necessary metadata it becomes apparent that there is a lot of interesting historical information. Most of this content is not easily associated with an item unless you create companion documentation. As a result, the “exhibit” interface provides a venue to capture some of the more interesting historical information. I would encourage the Omeka developers to explore ways to improve this “storytelling” process. It is clear that people learn better through stories and having a better way to present these historical vignettes would make Omeka a better product.

Another plugin that I am going to explore during the next week is Neatlines “timeline.” I think a timeline functionality would provide a better historical overview for visitors. The great think about a timeline is that the site’s users will not have to memorize dates, but rather have a visual reference to aid them. Fortunately, the associated time frame is only two years, and I already have identified the important dates that I would want to display. What this means is that I will need to either add additional items with more specific date references, or go back and ensure the current items are updated to include them.

Finally, the feedback I am getting from site testors has been good. This includes adding content and searching for items. The platform seems to be robust and I have not noticed any technical problems worth mentioning. However, I imagine with any first time “collection” project, it is the curation process that eventually becomes the real challenge. In my case, the availability of items to curate and upload is significant. So my challenge is being selective. I am only trying to focus on higher quality or more interesting items to include for now.

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