Archive for the ‘online’ Tag

Digital Champion

This past week I have been engulfed in trying to design a class website for my social studies classes.  I figured this would be easy enough since I have been studying digital history for the past semester.  Of course, it was not as easy as I expected.  I thought I could jump on to Google sites and wham, bam it would be done.  That couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

Although the site editor for Google is pretty straight forward, learning how to use it was like learning another language.  It was full of trial, error (mostly error) and frustration.  The first major headache after I chose which template I wanted was figuring out how to organize information on the site.  I knew that I wanted an area where announcements for each class could be viewed quickly and easily, but I definitely didn’t know how to do that.  Luckily, I was able to contact another teacher who instructed me on how to tweak the site so the information fit together nicely.

The next major problem, which I have yet to conquer, is figuring out what I want to put on the site for text.  I don’t want all text in your face because that is boring.  Essentially, I want to explain each of the classes on their own subpage.  But really, who is this explanation for?  I am willing to bet that most students who visit the site are not interested in my definition of Sociology or Civics or US History.  In actuality, this information is for the parents.  I have some parents ask me when and if I was going to post a website.  I bet that any parent actually interested enough to visit the site will probably read this information.

Overall, this has been a great learning experience.  I am now at least semi-proficient in creating a website on Google.  The great thing about this site is that if I go to another school, the site comes with me.  I am also able to put the address for this site on my resume, which I am sure many administrators will find impressive for job interviews.  So far, my work in Hist 511: Digital History has transformed me from a digital idiot to a Digital Champion.

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Folksonomy: Tagging w/o the Mess

There are many people who are worried about the idea of users (visitors to websites) placing tags on items for categorization.  It seems to me that people who are against any person (especially those they deem to be uneducated) creating tags or categories to place internet items are not wholly off base.  There could be a possibility that mis-educated, undereducated, or uneducated people would create a myriad of tags making it impossible for other users to utilize tag features to locate items on the internet.  They complain that it would be some sort of digital anarchy.

Recently, I have been increasingly using tags to organize websites using delicious.  This program allows me to locate a website, store the site, and tag it for future use.  For the most part I try to put as many tags on an item as I can. Basically, when I tag I am trying to forecast any and all keywords that can be associated with the item.  For instance, if I am tagging the website for the Imperial War Museum, I would create tags such as “primary sources, archive, museum, research, UK, war, imperialism” and so on.  This way, in the future, when I want to access the site, I can type in any one of the mentioned tags and be able to locate the source.

Why can’t the same thing be applied to items in a digital archive or a museum’s online collection.  I guess a lot of people will complain that typical, everyday users are not capable of creating meaningful tags.  But, honestly, meaningful to whom?  The purpose of museums (online, digital,or analog) is to store items and create access for the public.  Why would a museum want to spend exorbitant amounts of money to collect and store information, only to hide it.  I say let people tag and see what happens.

The great thing about technology is that museums can monitor tags that people put on items and use add the relevant terms to the items tag database.  This process is identified by the term folksonomy which is where the end-user places their own tags on items and the best or most relevant tags become apart of the colloquial language to identify items.  You know, let the “folks” label items.  They are ultimately the end-user, so why not make it accessible.  I feel that this is just another way of making information accessible and relevant to everyone.  It’s the future, nay it is the present.  Museums: Don’t be left behind.