I am pleased to report that there has been much progress in starting the “Mapping the Civil War in Arlington” project. The basic site theme and layout has been worked out. Also I have started populating dozens of items in the hosted Omeka platform. I think the first challenge that needed to be overcome was understanding the item, collection, exhibit hierarchy that Omeka provides inside the box. Then ensuring that item definitions, and collection descriptions were logical. Finally, the were the need to conceptualize how exhibits were going to be developed.
At this point in the project, a persistent problem is inputing the metadata and tags. There is a reason that this type of work is specialized. Since I consider myself a forest type of person, working on the individual trees seems tedious and laborious. Building this collection right, will take some time and some other sets of eyes.
For this reason, I also want to include a contribution feature to encourage other people to upload files and the associated metadata. I would compare this to Tom Sawyer encouraging other boys to paint the fence. It is my understanding that Omeka has a plugin that supports this feature. I am seeking some assistance to help me set this up.
One bright spot so far is the “mapping feature” that Omeka provides. Since the title of my project includes the word mapping, having the ability to place an identifier on a map to locate a geographic reference to an item is pretty cool. I think for students this will be a popular feature, especially if they want to see if anything happened in Arlington near where they live.
For next week I am going to spend time on better defining tags and collections. Also, I am planning on creating specialized pages for resources, videos, and lesson plans. I realize that the collection or curating process is reiterative and it is necessary to revisit and constantly add information as necessary.
Finally, it did not take too long to get familiar with the Omeka platform. The basic functionality and navigation are well thought out. I’m glad to see that you can add additional themes, and someday, if my grant is awarded, hire a graphic designer to create my own custom theme. Words of advise to those that will someday have to do a similar project. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Do your homework and review collection sites that work well. This will make all the difference in feeling confident to proceed.