This week our 305 class is exploring digital history projects. I looked at five websites: French Revolution, Gilded Age Murder, Great Molasses Flood, Mapping the Republic of Letters, and Map Scholar (the last three are Omeka-based sites).
I think Omeka works very well for presenting visual information, especially for illustrating change over time and displaying quantities. For example, the visualization of settler populations in North American on Map Scholar is more powerful than a table presenting the data in numerical form. Omeka is a great tool for presenting a collection secondary sources that are in a digital format. Also, it could host a digital exhibit that contains multimedia components.
While blogs like WordPress support media other than text, I think they are most useful to digital historians for communicating and collaborating on projects. For example, a blog for the Republic of Letters website could contain extra information on the primary sources featured on the site, “bonus” material that doesn’t “fit” on the website.
In the websites that I looked at, I enjoyed navigating through the ones that had a clear organization. Gilded Age Murder has an introduction and directory to pages on the site and this made exploring the site comfortable. In contrast, the Great Molasses Flood felt confusing because visitors to the site are “thrown in” without an overview or background information. Note: I recognize this may be intentional as exploring the content on this page felt like “investigating” a sensational event and made for a memorable website.