Computerside Companion

Time.  There isn’t enough of it.

This week our task was to read a book chapter by Carole Palmer and to look through an Omeka exhibit.  Perhaps because I’m buried in a host of tasks, I confess that I do not have much to say in this blog post, but here are a couple of thoughts.

First, as regards Palmer, it may be true that relatively few libraries point the way toward digital exhibits, but at least a few have done for quite some time.  When The Nationalism Project was new, it was quickly integrated into the substantial index of online web resources maintained by the British Library.  It is a shame that more libraries have not followed suit, though in a world of contracting resources for anything and everything that actually matters… I guess I’m not shocked.

I actually looked at three separate Omeka-based sites.  The first must be a marketing tool for the University of North Dakota.  It consists of short interviews with a long list of graduate students enrolled in various programs.  When I first clicked on the site my assumption was that it would offer at least some insight into the graduate experience.  Instead it was a nicely indexed series of happy stories.  Amazing that there are so many such tales.  Most people I know were not exactly so cheerful about the great struggle.  I moved on.

The next exhibit that I explored promised to survey Gilded Age art galleries, clubs, and associations.  Above all, it is a collection of old museum catalogues—again, nicely catalogued using Dublin Core (which I had not seen before this, and will look forward to reading about later on in the term).  Not a bad site, but not terribly robust either.  The fact is that it does not really provide much in the way of narrative and so does not resemble what I’m hoping to do in my class.

The last exhibit that I had a gander at is entitled The Land of Penn and Plenty: Bringing History to the Table.  This one is a mix of short articles and indexed objects.  The content is quite interesting, the images evokative, and the overall sensation while surfing somewhat closer to an old-school museum.  Although the site stands as a very nice example of a “thematic research collect,” it lacks the sort of coherent narrative that I hope my students will create in the planned youth culture course.

Before my last (not even remotely deep… must begin grading my next class) thoughts, I also wanted to check out the Bolles Collection on the History of London—largely because I teach a course on the topic and thought it would be nice to see what they’ve got.  While not quite as extensive as I had hoped, the collection does contain quite a number of texts and images relating to the history of London.  I’m definitely filing this one away and will return when I have time… which I’m quickly running out of now.

So, last thoughts.  More and more I think that what I want my students to do is to create an online history magazine with scholarly pretentions.  As such, it will be possible to utilize images, video, sound, and text to create a comparatively robust collection of materials that will hopefully prove interesting to readers.  Such a format will also invite continual expansion with time, thus rendering it a useful foundation for many future editions of the class.

Right, must grade…

But first… as the winter drags on, and on, and on, and on, and on… I’ve been thinking a lot about Mexico.  Warm…

But cannot shake the reality that it always feels cold…