Our project took its time to come together. I found that this is because most of the initial work centered around digitizing the images and transcribing their associated text. We were able to get well ahead on the uploading which allowed us to start working on the site itself soon afterward. This is where we ran into some more issues since Omeka is a bit restrictive, especially if you do not how to code. However, looking back on it now, I see that we were able to make the best of our situation by tinkering with the site’s look and other options while also providing thorough explanations that compensate for some parts of the website that were not as accessible.
We stuck with the plan to use Omeka, and I found that most of the deviations from the original contract are a result of the realization that we cannot change certain things about the site due to our lack of experience with coding. One such example is the word cloud. Not only would that not fit with the rest of the site, but it would not want to work with Omeka’s already built-in tag search system. That is why we tried to emphasize the “search by tag” feature in the guide tab. In terms of the rest of the tools, we were able to use them in the manner we planned on such as the StoryMap JS, exhibits, and collections, which each have their own tabs emphasizing their importance. We found that the “Big Picture” theme was not that accessible since the menu options were pretty hidden, therefore we changed it to the “seasons” theme. Unfortunately, this meant that the images in the collections were smaller and need to be individually clicked on to view them in a big size. Therefore, I made sure to include instructions in the guide tab. On the topic of tabs, we were able to create some more tabs which include the glossary, resources, and the guide tab. Additionally, we included some more exhibits in the biographies tab to make the site more cohesive.
As far as the schedule went, all the milestones and presentations contained most of what was planned for. Even if we did not have some portions ready for that day, we compensated by getting ahead in other sections. By the end of the semester, we were able to get nearly all of the agreed-upon parts of this project ready to go, with a few extra sections. The rules for the division of labor were also strongly adhered to, and we took into account our different schedules and the additional sections that we added throughout the semester. One final piece I want to mention is outreach, we primarily used our Instagram page for outreach, but I am finishing a flyer to put around campus to attract more users to the site. I found that we have given justice to our mission statement by emphasizing both the original images and words in them, while also shedding more light on those recurring people in the scrapbook through the use of Omeka’s various display features (collections and exhibits).
Because of the ramped-up workload this week I was not able to post this update before the final project due date. But I would still like to update and reflect on the last few parts of the project that needed fixing. Last weekend I spent a few hours going through the site and ensuring that all of the data is there. During this time, I found a few missing portions of data which I had to go back and fix manually. It was a bit funny how the exhibit pictures were not public last time and therefore did not show up when they were viewed normally. Because we made it public, I had to go back and change some of the data since these images were now public. Another issue I had to correct was the tagging system. Dr. McClurken said that it was not clear how to use the tags. On top of that, the site’s code did not allow us to make any significant changes to make the tagging search feature more obvious. To reach “search by tag” before, you had to click on the three little dots on the search bar, which is not that accessible. But now, I created a guide on the menu bar which not only talks about how to search and navigate the site but also has a direct link to “search by tag”. I tried to make the best out of the situation and I feel like this helps clarify both what the tags mean and a better way to search them. Once again, I feel proud of the work we have done and I believe we were able to work around some restrictive aspects of Omeka with a bit of explaining and linking the site together.
Almost done! I was very excited to look and respond to the feedback earlier this week. I found most of them to be typos and other minor issues that could be fixed within a bit of time. Others were things that were beyond our reach and were related to the site’s code, which we do not know how to exactly tweak. As for the rest of the issues they are things that are within our reach. To keep on track, we have created a document to track what we have left to do based on the feedback and our own goals. We have divided the work between us my portion of the work revolves around the backend. I need to ensure that all of the data is there and need to finish making sure that the tagging system is completely universal. I also need to add a bit more clarifications on how to use and navigate through certain portions of the site. I have found that I like entering data and making sure everything is in working order by when the site needs to go public. Looking from the beginning to now, I am very excited to show others the finished product. Most of the appearance of our site is in the right spot, but the portions that need a bit more love are the more technical portions to ensure that the correct information is present. I look forward to finally saying that our site is finished.
The process has been a difficult one, but the first drafts have been sent in and I am proud to say that I feel confident that we have accomplished most of the goals set out. The hardest things that I had to come to terms with being limited by Omeka. Our primary reason for choosing that was to give justice to the “scrapbook feel”. I feel like we have accomplished this goal, with all of the associated metadata. The only portion that we are unable to fix are some of the formatting on some of the pages with present some accessibility issues too. The bulk editor definitely helped out with changes, especially last-minute ones, but there were sadly some item-specific data elements that I had to edit manually for each one. One of the metadata fields that puzzled me was the “Identifier”. I was not sure what to put in there, but I have a slight feeling that I will have to go back and edit it before the next submission. Like I said before I am no expert, especially when it comes to using Omeka. However, being able to use the site has both enhanced my knowledge of the digital tools available to use and made me recognize my limits in the amount of knowledge in this area. I am excited to see what the next steps are for revising our site and improving what we currently have there.