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.
Each of these articles brought a different idea to the table. I like how each talked about this idea using varying approaches. To me, one of the most important ideas here is those of Sharon M. Leon. She talks about many key issues that the historian faces in this ever-changing landscape. She states that public history is pointed at a specific audience. Our work needs to be engaging and be able to reel the readers in. This goes in hand with the thoughts from those involved in the HeritageCrowd Project. I like their distinction of who the audience is actually composed of. As scholars in the field history, our work tends to have a more niche audience. Whether it be other scholars interested in that area or others in classroom setting. On the other hand, the work in digital public history necessitates that historians drop the history lingo and adopt a methodology that the layman can understand. They need to not only make the site accessible but also the information and their sources too. This reality forces us to rethink what we put in our public project but more importably how we display it. A positive aspect of this reality is that it will make our projects much more appealing and understandable regardless of their level of interest in the historical field. I feel like the overarching theme is that thinking like a historian will always be important. We need that for various other research projects. However, we need to remember to sort of distance ourselves away from that mindset and rewire out brains to help bring the information to an audience that may have no stake or knowledge in what we are doing. These articles have encouraged me to reflect on the next few steps in our project which will be outreach and how to encourage people to stay on our site.
One last note, Leon also talk about the necessity of digital historians to code. Personally, I have struggled with this idea since I have never been good at those types of things. However, she puts it nicely by saying that all it requires is someone who is willing to tinker around. I feel like this is a very important concept that upcoming digital historians need to understand because I feel like many, like myself, have been intimidated to enter this area of history due to our inability to code or what not. I really liked her ideas and it reminded me of my group’s efforts to make things work despite not knowing the system too well!
This week has been a little slow, I’ve been slowly going through the tagging system and making sure that all of the backend functions work. I am also slowly working on making the site a bit more accessible. The others in my group are also doing their part, as they will talk about in the presentation tomorrow. Overall, the site is coming together bit by bit. After talking with Alex, we found that it would not be possible to come into contact with the Schwarz family. Therefore, we will go on with our previous decision to stay true to the way the scrapbook was presented to us. We will have the biographies ready for viewing on the presentation date in the next two days.
I chose this name for this post because part of the revitalization of my site included a facelift. I took some of the practical and philosophical lessons about digital identity and applied them here. I added more pages that include more information on myself and the site. I changed the header image to reflect something cleaner than a distracting cityscape. It is meant to be something abstract which I feel relates to my site due to its peculiar nature. I really like the way it looks now since there are now other pages and sections which help create a sense of confidence for both myself and my site. There are still more things that I want to improve such as the consistency of the site. While I do not plan on blogging every single day; like I learned yesterday I can do so whenever it is not a burden to me. Overall, I plan on growing this site with more projects and ideas that I will implement here as soon as I come up with them.
After looking at the many websites that were on the list I obtained much useful information through the examples and ideas presented in them. The first few websites that I looked at included Dr. McClurken’s and https://rebeccawingo.com/. These two taught me that simplicity is often better. Sometimes it is better to have less flashy backgrounds and opt for a more subtle choice of full colors. I looked at my own blog and I felt like this is an area I can improve upon. I would like to change the color and even put a picture of myself on the about page too. I also plan on making it a bit more user-friendly and organized. From these two sites, I also learned that it is acceptable to have long pages full of text. I used to think that it was not visually appealing to have a long page filled with words and no other images or elements. this is especially true if you are trying to have the audience focus more on the content.
Other lessons that I learned come in terms of what a blog means to me. I really enjoyed reading Dan Cohen’s thoughts http://dancohen.org/2006/08/21/professors-start-your-blogs/. I think his thoughts are essential for anyone who wants to start a blog but has doubts about what to include in it or how to treat it. In his site, he dispels some of the common myths surrounding blogging. Some of these ideas are ones that I believed in too. One od theme is that there is a constant need to be blogging (on a weekly or even daily basis). He states that blogging does not need to be an extensive activity and you can post everyone once in a while which is ok. One example of this is in https://matthewbsanders.com/blog/blog-six-months-later. His blog is interesting since he used to blog consistently but then took a 6-month break to conduct a mental health journey. I read through them and found that it was a very refreshing read since I was able to see progress and his insights since the last time he blogged. Reading this made me realize that it is ok to take breaks, both due to our mental health and our busy scehdule. We are college students after all:)
The last two lessons I learned are in the philosophical realm of digital identity. The first is from one of the 6 Key Selves of Networked Publics. I feel like increasing traffic and engagement in my site is one of the next steps that I will take. This ties into the idea of the Performative/Public Self. This aspect of digital identity is one where interaction and status are key. I wanna find new ways to interact with others who may venture onto the site through the more things I post on there. I realize that it is ok to link other portions of my digital identity, contrary to how I previously thought that was unprofessional. the only issue is that I do not go on there too much. The last lesson I learned is to consider my digital identity affects my real identity more than I previously thought. If used correctly, my site will be able to reach more people than I will be able to reach in person. Therefore, I must remember to show create an honest representation of myself. I should not be afraid to express my opinion on my own site, and by failing to do so I am also failing to create an honest reflection of who I am as a person.
Things are looking well! We have been ahead of schedule in some aspects, while we have caught up in others. Without spoiling too much of the project update we have in store for tomorrow (we have made significant improvements), we have also made some big steps in preparing the backend of the site. Looking ahead, I want to start improving the site’s look. I hope that this website is not only interesting because of the information that is displayed on it; but also because it feels welcoming for anyone curious about it. Like many things with Omeka, this will require a bit of tinkering on our end. While we have finished much of the monotonous portions of the project, apart from some of the more interesting parts which include the creation of the other exhibits; we can now look into the joys of making this site as beautiful as possible.
This does not mean that we are finalized with the uploading and transcribing. We intend to go back to double and even triple-check what we have already accomplished. We have already begun to review some of the work and are looking into things that we want to change and improve upon.
Overall, I am very optimistic about where this project is going since I feel like it is branching out to areas that I did not even know we were going to touch upon. I say this because we are going to have a meeting with Carolyn Parsons to get to know her and obtain additional insight into the original source which will do right by it as well.
In this video, we talked about the various ideas and next steps that we would be taking. We summarized some of it into a few main points. It was great to be able to all contribute to this document throughout the semester, and it will definitely serve us well since we will be able to go back here for inspiration and to post any other ideas that we may have.
As for video, we are not too sure if it will be needed for this project since we feel like the focus should be on the pictures themselves. The inclusion of other forms of media will only blur our goals and take attention away from the “big picture”.