During this Collections module, I have had the opportunity to play Metadata Games, to explore four sites, and to read the words of public history scholars. Throughout the module, I have learned quite a lot by viewing, exploring, and reading. In addition, I have added several items to my new Omeka site. Having a digital collection enables many ways to engage others in thinking about the past.
Metadata Games makes history fun! Users can select from a group of topics and then test their knowledge of that topic. They add tags relating to the images in front of them and gain points based on new tags and those which match the tags of other people. Playing Book Tag and Portrait Tag was challenging and exciting! I’m glad that I was able to contribute new tags to items, hopefully helping others in their research at the British Library’s site. By having digital collections, institutions such as the British Library give a more broad audience the opportunity to learn about collections they may never see. In addition, by participating in Metadata Games, they also have the chance to profit from the efforts and expertise of those who view those collections.
The four sites that I explored this week are Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, Baltimore Uprising, Flickr Commons, and National Archives, Citizen Archivist Dashboard. The producers of these sites have rich digital collections which provide the opportunity for audiences to learn about many historical events and people. These collections include texts, images, oral histories, videos, maps, and other types of items. Users have the freedom to decide what they want to learn more about and how they want to proceed with their explorations. In addition, like Metadata Games, they invite participation from interested users. The sites give people the opportunity to participate in many ways, such as tagging, transcribing, editing, and telling their own stories. As the collections expand, the sites become even more fascinating and useful.
The work of scholars has challenged me to consider new options for my Omeka site. In his piece “What Do You mean by Archive? Genres of Usage for Digital Preservers.” Trevor Owens clarified what a Digital Archive meant and helped me to understand the value of such an archive. As they explain the creation of Hurricane Digital Memory Bank in“Why Collecting History Online is Web 1.5” , Sheila A. Brennan and T. Mills Kelly note:
We sort the challenges of creating, managing, and sustaining a digital collecting history project into four main categories: collecting content; technical issues; attracting visitors to your site and building trust with potential contributors; and if your project is one focusing on a tragedy or disaster as ours was, allowing those most directly affected time to heal before they can share.”
Their piece was an excellent guideline for me as I work on my project. I know that I must have quality content first, then work to attract visitors.
The story of Flickr, told by Martin et al. in “Smithsonian Team Flickr: a library, archives, and museums collaboration in web 2.0 space” highlighted the importance of institutions and people working together to create rich collections.
Finally, “Generous Interfaces for Digital Cultural Collections” helped me to realize the limitations of the typical search box and inspired me to have rich structured metadata that allows a variety of options for interfaces.
My Omeka site is still in its early stages, but, inspired by what I have seen and read in this module, I will continue to brainstorm about ways to engage my audience. As the sites include items of many types, I plan to include items not just of the women in the collective biography that I am studying, but item records, maps, and timelines for the places that they lived, studied at, worked at, and visited. I’ve learned that a rich digital collection has variety of ways to interest many types of audiences.I plan to ask questions such as
Who were these women?
What kinds of activities did they participate in over their lifetimes?
Where did they live?
Who did they know? How many knew each other?
I plan to create a rich collection and variety of interfaces that will help to answer these questions, and I look forward to what the contributors to the collection will teach me about American history.
Brennan, Sheila A., and T. Mills Kelly. “Why Collecting History Online is Web 1.5” Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. 2009,
Martin et al. “Smithsonian Team Flickr: a library, archives, and museums collaboration in web 2.0 space.” Archival Science (October 2009).
Owens, Trevor. “What Do You mean by Archive? Genres of Usage for Digital Preservers.” The Signal: Digital Preservation (blog), February 27, 2014
Sherratt, Tim. “It’s All About the Stuff: Collections, Interfaces, Power, and People.” Journal of Digital Humanities 1.1 (Winter 2011)
Whitelaw, Mitchell. “Generous Interfaces for Digital Cultural Collections.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 9.1 (2015)