A New Direction – Going Digital

My I.S. has now gone fully digital. After talking with my two advisers about the direction my career and interests are headed, we have decided to tweak the concept of my project. Instead of writing a traditional paper, my I.S. is going to be a digital product, a public history website of sorts. We are still working out the particulars about what all I will be expected to produce. Right now, for this week I was charged with surfing the web and looking at various other history related websites to see what elements I liked, didn’t like, how they were organized, and what software they used.

First thing I found was this great web-based software called Omeka. It was developed by the folks at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Its very easy to use, free, and many different history sites have been developed by libraries, colleges, and museums using Omeka. Some of the websites that I liked that were developed using Omeka include:

Creating Holyoke and Digital Amherst are websites that explores the history of two New England towns, through use of digital exhibits. You can browse several exhibits based around themes in each town’s history, or just browse through the entire digital collection.

Memorial Stadium is a website also developed through Omeka that explores the history of  a stadium on the University of Minnesota’s campus. Its a lot alike the previous two, but it also has a place where it collects the stories of its website viewers. You can use this website to record and preserve your story, connecting it to the larger story as well.

The last site I looked at is the Vassar Encyclopedia.  This site is an awesome guide to everything Vassar. When I think of what I want my website to look like, this website is the closest reality to what I have been brainstorming.

As I am envision my website now, I would like to have it centered around exhibits that explore certain themes – or questions, like the Holyoke and Amherst sites are laid out. I also want the site to have tons of resources – documents, photographs, recollections easily accessible, like the Vassar site. I also like the ideas of linking this blog to be part of the site, and maybe some podcast walking tours of COW.  I want my website to be more though than just a digital collection of history and documents. I want it to be jumping off point for discussion – a place that explores questions, out in the open on the web,  for others to help build, comment on, and reflect on. I want it to be a truly ‘public’ history and historic preservation site, one that is continuously growing, not only in breadth and depth of historic documents, but also in real time as it follows community growth, questions and issues.

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