Creative Commons & our project

I think we might be in a unique position because of the content that we are creating for this project. We are writing and publishing new oral histories/interviews with students/alumni/people connected to James Farmer. Also, there are certain pieces of Farmer content in the Special Collections that do not have creative commons licensing and would require extra steps like contacting the original interviewers to get access to publishing those materials. For our project, I can see use using a lot of fair use items and CC in the editing of our videos.

I am a bit confused about the whole looking at Wikipedia entries. I looked at historical events (Pearl Harbor attack, World War I) and then thought maybe that wasn’t the assignment, so I looked at objects (candles, computer mouse) and I still didn’t see a discussion tab. I did see a history tab for the objects that I looked at and it went over a brief description of antecedents and how the object came about (the needs for it, why the antecedent didn’t work, and what needed to be developed alongside it).

Also, just a quick update on our group project. Just submitted the finalized version of our group contract and we’re already making head way! We are currently trying to work around all of our busy schedules and find time to meet with Angie in the Digital Archiving Lab!

JF Project: group contract

Things are moving along smoothly! We just submitted our group contract, and have a more solid idea of where our project is going. One thing that I am worried about is how much we decided we would do. We’re completing new interviews with UMW students (including organization, transcription, captioning, and uploading onto our interface), organizing previous iterations of JF websites, and helping Special Collections by transcribing and captioning some of Farmer’s lectures. It is a bit ambitious to do and organize into a cohesive narrative that is helpful for our audience. I think we can do it! We just have to be aware of our timeline and be realistic in what we think we can accomplish once we get going.

Video Project (& readings)

Here is a short video I made where I interviewed some students about James Farmer. I have a little experience with iMovie, so making this short clip was easy!

Digital Projects to review!

Hurricane Digital Memory Bank: For a digital project that started in 2005, it has aged gracefully (with many updates). I really liked the layout of the website: not too confusing or flashy. Its basic look made it easily navigable and I wanted to look deeper into the website because it was so easy to use.

The September 11 Digital Archive: I thought it was interesting that their FAQs page was mainly links to outside resources and news outlets. I think that was a pretty smart way of giving a basic amount of knowledge for all consumers (in case they are stumbling across this website with no knowledge about the event) without dedicating too much time or space into cataloging the history of the event itself.

Lost & Found: I kind of like the vertical menu bar instead of the traditional horizontal one. My only wish is that it could track with the page, so that when you scroll down far, the menu follows it. The only thing that really bugged me was the news widget that was on the bottom of every page (saying the recent news posts from Lost & Found).

American Archive: I said before that websites that are continuous scroll annoy me. I would rather switch to the different tabs that have the “ease” of sliding into the next page.

Hull House: A lot of the features of this website were disabled (I assume because of age). Despite that, I still liked the layout. It was very straightforward about what I was going to see (for the things that I could see). I would, however, criticize the text font and colors. For the hyperlinks, it was like a light yellow shade which made it hard to read sometimes. Also, the introduction was a huge amount of text that could have been better split up.

Timeline and StoryMap JS

I’ve worked with Timeline JS for two other projects, so I am fairly comfortable with its formatting. I’d be interested in figuring out if I could move the images around the timeline “slide”. It can get quit repetitive to have the images only show up on the right-hand side. I know you can make the images the entire background, but that doesn’t work for all image formats.

StoryMap JS was a cool tool to navigate! I think it might be useful in the JF Project. Again, I did not run into many issues. Though, I could not figure out how to put in the coordinates so that it would pop up to the exact location I wanted. Sometimes the search function for the locations was limiting, but I tried to work around it.

I embedded my Timeline and my StoryMap onto their own pages because I thought that would be cleaner than a blog post. Check them out by using the menu bar above!

JF Project: reviewing other websites

  • Things to keep in mind when making our website
    • Colors are important; aesthetics and design is important
      • Murder mapping colors were too much with the black and red text
    • Didn’t like having multiple menus (murder mapping)
    • Homepages are hugely important
      • Having pages that help you navigate through (“return to navigation menu” button); mimics following a museum exhibit 
    • Text sizes: breaking up text with images and headings (that vary in size)
    • Virtual Angkor: had a “cite us” tab; encourage further research
    • Being clear in what our interpretation is

Reviewing Digital History Projects

What’s On the Menu?: It has a lot of text, all over the place, which makes navigating it visually confusing. However, the content of the website is insane. I really like how they had an entire page dedicated to how they accumulated data and continue to update the website.

Gilded Age Plains City: On its homepage, it claimed to be accessible to all levels of knowledge, yet going further into the website it seemed to get denser and denser. Plus the titles of the pages on the website menu seemed more complicated than needed. Why call it “interpretation and narrative” when you could just say “the murder story”? Especially if you’re claiming to be intellectually accessible to the mass public.

Virtual Paul Cross Project: I was actually introduced to this website in a museum course as it was an example of making historical architecture and sites accessible to scholars who otherwise could not physically make it. I really enjoy the simplicity of the color scheme, but I think utilizing different size fonts would help clarify subject headings in the larger chunks of text.

Walden, A Game: I liked the basic color contrasts between the graphics of the game and the darker website: it brought the attention to the game, which is the focal point. I, personally, do not like websites that have continuous scrolling instead of individual pages. It may seem simple, but I like to have a clear cut end to a topic.

Looking at these different examples of Digital History made me realize how picky I am about layout. I really do not seem to like massive chunks of text. I think that that has a lot to do with your intended audience, of course. I also am a fan of using a darker color scheme and basic layout for the website itself and playing with images and text/font/size/colors for the content in terms of layout. Blocks that move too much are sometimes frustrating; especially as we move into an era where we are using touch screens more than a desktop computer and mouse.

Omeka

I spent one winter break researching local historic institutions’ use of Omeka and PastPerfect for cataloging collections for a smaller, non-profit museum in Northern Virginia as they tackled the huge task of a site wide inventory. I was able to play around with Omeka a bit and get a good understanding of its functions within an institution as a record keeping system. I was excited to see that Omeka was something we could use in this course and taking a look at the different examples listed, the usage of Omeka seems to be more broad than I was introduced to.

I was intrigued by the Histories of the National Mall website with its interactive map. I hadn’t seen a map function like that before: with multiple layers that could be searched through. The map held over three hundred entries. It felt like a creative way to visually introduce historical content instead of just listing it or using a timeline. However, the map was sometimes hard to navigate using touch screens or a track-pad mouse. Nothing is perfect, but that did make me think about ways to make it more accessible.

Digital Humanities VS Digital History

I am taking Digital History because I am a history and american studies double major with a minor in museum studies and this class fits with what I need and the times I have available! It also helps that I took a course with Dr. McClurken last semester that peaked my interest in American technology and the ways in which we represent it.

It seems like Digital Humanities is a much broader look at how the digital era is revolutionizing the appearance and function of humanities. Digital Humanities includes art, English, and history whereas Digital History is a smaller branch.