HIST694 – Final Post

I have recently put the final touches on the beta version of my project American Spirits: A History of American Spirits. Created for the HIST694 course for digital public humanities, this project reflects some of the topics and discussions that took place over the semester.

The project itself addressed how digital public humanities projects are created, and the thought process behind them. Throughout the course, we submitted an elevator pitch, personas, proposals, storyboards, content templates, and social media strategies. By doing this, we were able to conceptualize and re-conceptualize aspects of our initial project ideas, consider how users would interact with the materials, identify primary and secondary audiences, and more. As a result, the class as a whole was able to see the process behind many successful digital public humanities projects.

The various course modules also helped to shape the final projects. For example, one module focused primarily on audience, on identifying primary and secondary target audiences and creating a digital experience that they would benefit from by thinking about their needs and desires. Several modules focused on how to engage with the audience in several ways, whether it is through the use of social media, the creation of geospatial elements or mobile apps, or even having the users contribute knowledge or experiences about a particular subject.

In regards to my own project, I chose to build it using Drupal, an open source CMS. I chose to engage with my audience by allowing users to comment on collection items, rate the items, contribute metadata (object type, keywords, and text transcriptions), and created 3 exhibits. While I am very happy with how it has come together, there are several steps that I wish to take to improve upon it in the future. Some of these improvements include providing information about the individuals mentioned in, related to, or are creators of collection items. I would also like to include many more items, especially those that highlight other types of American liquors, and expand upon the crowd sourcing aspect. Furthermore, I would really like to have the site go through a couple of rounds of user testing in order to identify areas for more improvement.

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