My digital history project was an online archive for a collection of oral histories, including transcripts and photos, created on Omeka.net. I’ll be honest, the final product is not much what I had in mind. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I wish I would have tried it in WordPress instead of Omeka.
I understand the benefits of using Omeka. The metadata, no matter how much of a hassle, is very important and useful. Anything you could possibly want to know is right there. I also really liked the collections grouping. For me, it was very helpful to organize all the materials for one interviewee into one collection.
However, it was hard to make the site very personal. While I added an “About” page, I think a tag line after the site’s title would have been helpful to explain to first-time visitors what the site is all about. I wanted to add a photo to the “About” page, but there was no way to do that, except through HTML. (I’ll discuss that later.)
I also don’t know if the set-up that Omkea provides is the best for my audience – history enthusiasts, students, and the average Joe. When they click on an item to listen to an interview, they probably aren’t going to care so much about all the metadata, and might not go so far as to scroll to the bottom of the page to find the actual audio file. In this sense, all that information just clutters the page.
Would WordPress be a good alternative? I’m not sure. I would have to try out both and see what works best. My thinking is that there would be a way to reproduce what would be lost by switching from Omeka, mainly the metadata.
One thing I’m sure would have made this project easier and cleared up some of the issues I mentioned is better web skills. If anything, this project and class have taught me that just like journalism (my other major), history cannot ignore technology any longer. Historians need to learn the things we’ve been referring to this semester as “getting into the weeds.” There are pros and cons to everything going on the web, but it’s the way the world’s going and we need to adapt to stay relevant.
So here’s my final project, Closing Crucible. Again, it’s not much what I anticipated, but it has me thinking about possibilities for the future and things I still need to learn.