In a broad response to the readings and Anderson’s Smithsonian webcast, I’m wondering how much of the community, organizing, learning that’s taking place online and via digital tools is new and how much is just a different ways of doing things that people have always done. How much has Facebook, for example, fundamentally changed the social experience? Or, to what extent is Facebook just a reflection of the fact that people have always had a small group of close friends and a lot more not-so-close friends that we sort-of keep track of?
I felt similarly about Rosenzweig’s article and his evaluation of Wikipedia– yes, Wikipedia is completely unlike any source of information that has ever existed before but, on the other hand, it’s still an encyclopedia, sometimes a shotty encyclopedia at that, and no encyclopedia should be cited in a term paper. That part really isn’t new and the pressure is still on us – the individual, the scholar, whoever – to evaluate the things we read, hear, and see.
How much of the digital age is about a fundamental change in society? How much of it is about the speed and degree to which old relationships and communities are taking place via new media? Does the latter create the former?
In response to the readings on the audience and thinking about our projects and the rest of the class so far, I’m wondering if the emphasis on promotion and marketing is necessary, especially for smaller sites like ours. Given the Long Tail logic (or maybe not even so remote for many of us), is it enough to just make our sites efficiently search-able and trust that people who need to use it or want to see it will find it? How active of a project does targeting your audience have to be, particularly for projects like ours?
My project is an overview of the free African American community in Philadelphia during the early nineteenth century. I’ll be using documents such as sermons, speeches, newspapers, and organizational records from within this community primarily.
My first question is if I decide not to use some of the Dublin Core categories for my items, is it better to keep the set of data information for each item in my archive consistent? Or is it okay to modify exactly how much information I provide based on what’s most important for the particular document/item, etc?
Also, is there a way to navigate the items in the archive by having the meta data serve as links (i.e. click on this author and get the list of things he/she wrote) or would viewers have to work through tags or the search function? If the search function is the best navigate items, is there any way to make the search terms highlighted in the results?
If I’m adding documents to my collection in PDF files, is there any way to have a thumbnail of the first page or an associated page image show up in the item listing (in a collection, the overall item list, etc)? For that matter, is that even desirable? Do we think that mini-visuals of documents, for example, are useful? Or do they get in the way?
Also, I know we’ve discussed how to make the project coincide with the domain name (without the “/project”) and I know that it involves moving the files up one level. Still, I don’t really feel comfortable trying to figure out exactly what that means (and risk messing it up) on my own. Is there any way we could do a very short demo in class about exactly what gets moved and where to?
I apologize if this has already been discussed, but I’m still a little confused over how my computer interacts with servers and server software. If I install Omeka on the NYU server, can I access the program/my work from anywhere? I would assume so, but are there any advantages or limitations to having the software on one server versus another?
I was intrigued by one of the discussions in the “Interchange” discussion over the meaning of interaction or “interactivity” as it relates to the museum experience. One of the contributors conceived of interactivity as more of a social process that involves getting people to engage with history and with each other. Soon after, another contributor countered that, to him, interactivity was an intellectual process that seemed more about deep engagement with historical themes and debates. These varying interpretations seemed to reflect, at least to some degree, the academic/public history divide. How useful is it to bring these alternate definitions of what it means to “interact” around history to digital history? How does the potential for virtual interaction stand up against interpersonal interaction? For the digital history consumer, who should that interaction be with?
Here is the link to my annotated bibliography, but I don’t know how to make my library, or this part of my library, public so I’m not sure this will work.
The copyright issue that I’ve encountered for my project (on early nineteenth century Philadelphia) is that many of the documents that I would like to include are restricted in use by the online databases that they are on even though the content is in the public domain. Since that’s what I’ve been working on, the readings often came back to this issue for me. In light of how expensive these databases are and the restrictions they place on the use of ‘their’ files, is it fair or right for these institutions or companies that create these databases to exert so much control over documents that are now meant to belong to the public? Or do these institutions/companies deserve the control and profit that they claim for the manpower they put into scanning the documents and for saving me the time and trouble of leaving my room in order to read them?
In response to the collaboration readings, I agree that collaboration offers the potential for new and dynamic scholarship. That said, I would also contend that there is some degree of collaboration in ‘traditional’ humanities scholarship, particularly history, as it is — perhaps more than these writers give it credit for. Granted, the process of poring over documents, digesting information, and writing are often (though obviously don’t have to be) solitary processes; but, another crucially important part of research is consulting other secondary sources and, often, talking to librarians, archivists, and other experts on the subject. Engaging with other scholars, in person or through what they’ve written, is still a form of collaboration, even if in the end product is a single-author work.
I guess this reaction led me to question what constitutes a distinct type of collaboration or sub-types even exist. For example, is it useful to consider scholarly collaboration on a continuum of sorts. That is, can we think of one end where two or more scholars who study the same thing come together to create a work about that common subject? Perhaps at the other end are two or more scholars who study very different topics and work together to study something that is out of each of their comfort zones. Are some forms of collaboration more challenging? more simple? more groundbreaking? more traditional? more beneficial?
Or, are the processes of sharing ideas, exchanging expertise, and learning from others essentially the same regardless of where one applies them?
I did a major research project last year about the free black community of Philadelphia between approximately 1790 and 1830 and I would like for this project to complement that one, though I haven’t exactly decided how. One idea I’m thinking about is to focus on a range of events and individuals in order to capture the range of the issues and concerns facing this community during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The other direction I’m thinking about is to focus in detail on one central person within this community and, through this narrower biographical approach, portray both the person and their historical context as well.