Digital History - Histoire Numérique

Technology Reflections

The experience of using digitals tools and incorporating Omeka into my research was initially overwhelming. Learning new tools is always useful and necessary with the rapidly evolving technology, but it takes me a long time to process new tools. The process of learning how to use Omeka was by trial and error. I also had a fellow student help me when I was first learning how to upload documents and change layouts, and I am thankful for her help otherwise I would have been even more confused than I already was. The trial and error aspect was not intuitive, and so it felt initially frustrating to use. Despite my initial frustrations and setbacks, I do like the ability to present my work on a digital interface. One the one hand-uploading my documents felt unconventional since I was using a digital interface to present my work rather than a traditional paper, and on the other a lot more eco friendly as opposed to printing out a paper. My only concerns for using the digital tool as part of my research is the ease of accessibility to others, such as students and to the public, and the privacy of my work. If a student needs a specific link to view the project, then how relevant or useful is a private exhibit if it is not easily shared. That being said, I would not want just anybody having the ability to access my work with fear of plagiarism. I personally do not want my work made public, but the idea of having a digital space for students and academics to share ideas with seems like part of our modern, connected world.

I expected Omeka to be easier to use. I found it really difficult, and would not want to use it again unless there is a “tips and tricks” video or presentation on how to easily use this website. Learning new technology takes up time that could be spent on the actual research and writing process. The interface was simple but time consuming since I had to upload individual documents. In addition, a lot of the websites I looked at expected me to download plugins or extensions which would not be possible for me since I was facing technical difficulties on my end, and I don’t think that the extensions or plugs ins I downloaded would work since I don’t own the Omeka site and am using someone else’s. I expect my work to be presented to a public audience, which is what I traditionally expect when uploading something to a website. I appreciate the different audience that this website forces me to consider, rather than a traditional research paper where the audience would be a single person. Despite my project reaching a greater audience, I still am hesitant to actually want my project to be seen by other people other than the professor since I do not really like having others view my work. My research is private and personal and having other people view and judge my work is not something I am comfortable with.

Despite my own insecurities, Omeka was an interesting and unique experience to work with. I would not use it again for a future project however, since I do prefer traditional papers. While I appreciate the newness and modern technology that the 21st century brings, I do feel hesitant to use an interface other than traditional papers, probably because of my desire for tradition and maintaining some element of the status quo. As stated earlier, despite my own personal hesitancies towards “newness” , I can thoroughly appreciate the alternative and relevant skills and medium to project my work.

For the layout of my website, the aesthetics are fairly simple. I used the default sections that were provided by Omeka which did make it simple to use, but there was a lot of lag to the Omeka which I did not appreciate. The user friendliness was not there and I had to look up a youtube video which helped me understand how to navigate the system better, but that extra level or learning how to use a website just seems time consuming and somewhat unnecessary given the fact I don’t intend to use this piece of technology again. In addition, when I think of all the other kinds of technology I would have to learn unique to the individual medium, I do find myself longing for a traditional paper where the simplicity and ease of use of a paper and pen allows my thoughts to flow freely. I do appreciate the display of technology however, since I can upload pictures and present my work in a more visual manner. My lack of knowledge of how to create a website hinders my ability to create the unique and complex visual displays I would like to present, so if I had a better understanding of how to create a website I would be much happier with my final end result. Given the fact that I had to use the template from Omeka, which is in and of itself a user friendly, my little exhibit would not stand out from the crowd so to speak since we are all using the same template.

This tool is not useful in learning about history, but it is useful in the presentation of it. In order to learn about history, browsing through students projects would not be useful because the level of analysis and detail are only at a student level, so having other students learn from other students doesn’t promote the greatest level of analysis as compared to being taught by a professional. But on the other hand as I said earlier I appreciate the alternative, more expressive and visual styles of representation. Therefore, if Omeka was made the standard, or even another website a standard where everybody knows how to use it, then it would be useful in our understanding of historical concepts. But since it is available only to a select few who use Omeka, the audience is limited to those who use and know about Omeka. Perhaps it would be impossible for a single website or domain to become mainstream given the rapid advancements of technology, but Omeka is definitely a good place to start.

This project meets the definition of digital history because half of my sources I found online, rather than in person, and the other half I used microfilm which while not the most technologically advanced, is still technological as compared to text based sources. In addition, the presentation of material in a virtual exhibit definitely fulfills the definitions of digital history.

 I am having a really difficult time citing my sources for the microfilm and newspaper. I used the Library and Archives Canada services and they got all of the information I needed for me, and gave me a piece of paper with the final request for the microfilm. But I cannot find the exact reel numbers, dates, or authors for the film. I don’t think my advertisements would have authors anyways because its just an advertisement. I put all of the information down from user loan request that I thought was the most relevant. I tried to be all encompassing since I do not have the specifics.


















Technology Reflections