The readings from the last couple of weeks have focused on metadata, user interface, and exhibit building/narration. The content from these readings have helped to further shape my project, American Spirits.
During the metadata exercise, I created several fields which corresponded directly to the Dublin Core metadata schema, to capture information about 15 items for my project. This exercise helped to identify which of these fields needed to be expanded and broken a part. For example, I have chosen to break apart the creator field into artist, engraver, writer, and sender, in order to capture more specific information about the items. Most of these fields would be assigned in house and use a form of controlled vocabulary when necessary. The reading, Metadata: An Introduction, helped to identify the potential of crowd sourced metadata. I had previously established that I wanted users to assign Document/Object type and Keywords, however these words would all be selected from a controlled list. The reading highlighted Flickr’s use of crowd-sourced tags. By allowing users to contribute user generated tags, I will be able to have metadata applied to objects from various perspectives, illustrating what people are interested in.
Other readings focused on the user interface, navigation, and discoverability. Previously, I had established that I wanted to use some of the metadata captured to group related content together. This idea was reinforced when reading DHQ’s Generous Interface for Digital Cultural Collections. This article illustrated how interfaces should be dynamic, providing users with multiple access points into content. Moreover, it should illustrate relationships within the collection. This type of interface will help the majority of users who come to a collection without an end goal in mind. This mindset of access points and discoverability has also helped me to shape the interfaces for the main pages, creating block regions of sub content. For example, the about will primarily focus on the about the project but also provide summary blocks and links to major aspects of the project (topics & events, the collection, and the crowd-sourcing page).
The last aspect where my project was influence was in the narration of the content through the use of exhibits. The readings highlighted a couple of digital history projects and how they narrated content. The Raid on Deerfield project seeks to tell the story of multiple story lines which is similar to my project as I wish to highlight several topics and events in American History. The various types of information included on this site, have helped to shape what I wanted to include in the different exhibits. While not fully set in stone and likely to change slightly between different topics, I have chosen to include the following to narrate the story of the Whisky Ring Scandal: text, images, related content, map, and table of people who played significant roles in the event.
These readings and supplemental materials have continued to shape my current project. The opinions, decisions made, and content included provide unique and dynamic ways to engage with users.