1/26 – Omeka Sites

Well, this is embarrassing… I saved the draft instead of posting this. I gotta make sure I hit the “Publish” button rather than the “Save Draft” button next time.

The sites I visited, both Omeka sites and others, all seemed to have an emphasis on information with site design and functionality taking a back seat so to speak. While they all had generous amounts of information, that information was just put on the page rather than be presented. Like we discussed last class, a lot of it is analogous to traditional mediums like books and writings. I think that is one of the great advantages of digital history, that information can be presented in a way that grabs the reader and makes them want to further explore the site.

A few of the sites did accomplish that presentation though, and the one that stood out to me was http://cornishmemory.com/. It is a site completely dedicated to the history of Cornwall, England and holds a plethora of sources including interactive maps, over 30,000 photographs, and featured collections from photographers and archivists. It is built using Omeka, but a lot of effort has been put into it to make it a unique site rather than a copy and paste job from the default styles. I think it really sets an example for what digital history can be.

As for the utilization of those web solutions like Omeka and WordPress, they make publishing a website very easy and accessible to a lot of people who can’t write a single line of code. They often result in cookie cutter sites though, as many of those people will focus on the information and never think to deviate from the default site design. Even with that though, solutions like Omeka and WordPress provide a great place to start.

For example, even if I didn’t have any experience using the internet other than Facebook and YouTube, I could probably make a digital history site using Omeka and especially WordPress. It also makes collaboration easier because I can work with someone who doesn’t know what HTML stands for and still build a great website with some fantastic information. If I wanted to make an interactive timeline and map of public libraries in the United States, I could create a website and share it with historians across the country to contribute data. I think that is what makes digital history a powerful new method of history.

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