Week 2 – Research and Communication

All digital projects have certain structural features in common. Some are built on “platforms” using software that has either been designed specifically from within the digital humanities community (eg Omeka, a possible platform you might use for your final projects), or has been tailored purposed to serve (eg: WordPress), or has been custom-built.

We talk about the “back end” and “front end” of digital projects, the workings under the hood (files on servers, in browsers, databases, search engines, processing programs, and networks) and the user experience.

But what creates the user experience on the front end? How are digital projects structured to enable various kinds of functions and activities on the part of the user? All digital humanities projects are built of the same basic structural components, even though the degree of complexity that can be added into these components and their relations to each other and the user can expand exponentially.

User experience and functionality are not the only considerations when creating a digital project. The long-term preservation of a project must also be evaluated. Will the software and file formats chosen for a project still be relevant and in-use in decades to come? Will the web domain exist long past the initial completion of the project? Essentially, how can a digital humanities project be archived so it can be preserved and accessible in the future?

The basic elements: a repository of files or digital assets, some kind of information architecture or structure, a suite of services, and a display for user experience. While this is deceptively simple and reductive, it is also useful as a way to think about the building of digital humanities projects. At their simplest, digital projects can consist of a set files (assets) stored in an information architecture such as a database or file system (structure) where they can be accessed (services) and called by a browser (use/display).

All of the complexity in digital humanities projects comes from the ways we can create structure (in the sense of introducing information into the basic data) in the assets, organize the information architecture or structure, in order to support complex services accessed through the display.

All of this should be more clear as we move ahead into the analysis of examples.

Reading


As you are reading these, make a few web annotations. I have provided a few prompts for you that may help you generate some perspectives for annotations.

Viewing

How Did They Make That? (Video) https://archive.org/details/howdidtheymakethat

Listening

Benjamin Walker’s Theory of Everything, “Artifacts” Parts I and II

Exercises

  1. Use Hypothes.is to annotate the two required readings listed above.
  2. Watch the videos and listen to the podcast listed above.
  3. Install the Omeka application at the subdomain of your site. Omeka is a software tool that enables you to create dynamic online exhibits that showcase collections of digital images, text, and other multi-media formats.
  4. Once you have Omeka installed at your subdomain, take 2 photos with a camera or mobile phone and upload them to your Omeka site. They can be photos of anything (cat photos are most welcome!). The Omeka user manual has detailed instructions outlining how files are managed in the application.
  5. Create a post at your website with your WordPress application. Last week you made a Page with a bit about yourself. This week you will be making a Post. Here is a short video outlining the difference between a Post and a Page. In this week’s post:
    • share a link to your new Omeka installation.
    • Provide a short reflection on your process setting up your Omeka installation. This is just a few sentences to reflect on the process of setting up your subdomain and Omeka application. Did you get stuck at any part of the installation process? Did you explore other parts of Omeka? How did you decide which photos to upload for this week’s exercise?
    • Lastly, search the internet for one example of a website that uses Omeka and provide a link to this website in your post. What do you like about this specific example?