The Public Humanities Toolbox Engaging Communities Online
Leah Nahmias Al Lees
NCPH Conference 2009 Providence, Rhode Island
The Public Humanities Toolbox: Engaging Communities Online Table of Contents Welcome • The Present…and the Future • What We Do and Don’t Do • Our Goals • Vocabulary Worksheets • Self-Assessment: My Organization’s Online Presence • Checklist: Envisioning an Engaging Online Presence Our Model: The Public Humanities Toolbox 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 • A Note on Metadata Choosing Tools • Our many biases How do I use… • Wordpress • Widgets • Flickr • Google Maps • Scribd • Audio and Video Files • (A Note on) Wikis • (A Note on) Facebook and Social Networking • (A Note on) Podcasts About This Project • Our Model • Framework • Our prototype About Us & Acknowledgements Appendix I: WordPress Grunt Work Appendix II: WordPress Plug-Ins and Recommendations Appendix III: Examples of Tools used by Public Humanities Organizations Appendix IV: Other Cool Tools • Twitter 2 2 3 5 7
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Lulu books LibraryThing Greenstone.org
Welcome This website and handbook seek to show small cultural heritage organizations how to use easy web tools to create great websites. We present a set of tools that can be combined in different ways depending on what type of web presence your organization needs. We start with the basic blog1 and explain how to include various other features to make a dynamic website. If you already have a website, these tools can be used in addition to it or as a replacement for it. You may want to use these tools to build a web presence for one specific project and then link to it from your main website. You may not have any website at all, in which case it is time to get started. We have developed a model of an organization’s online presence based on the free or very inexpensive tools that have been developed in the last few years. These features do not enable every type of online activity possible (though they come darn close!). However, we have identified the most common functions that a small cultural heritage organization might expect of its website and some of the most exciting possibilities among recent web applications. We developed the Public Humanities Toolbox also knowing that not all features would be equally desirable to different users. We were also aware that our tools should be easy for the novice to build and for the end-user to navigate. We begin with a series of checklists to help you decide which tools you want to use. Then, we focus on several tools and show you how to use them: • • • • Flickr: sharing photographs Google Maps: making maps Scribd: sharing documents YouTube: sharing video
We finish with some great examples that show you these tools in action in organizations like yours. Our principal goal is to create a rich interactive web-based framework of existing free and open source applications that can be used by small cultural heritage organizations to develop an engaging web presence. We hope that our ideas and model are, above all, useful. We hope that they help small organizations find and build audiences and that in doing so they and their collections become a vital part of their communities. The Present . . . and the Future With good intentions but often limited capacity, many small cultural heritage organizations let their collections lay unexplored in attics, closets, and storage boxes. They may only be open to the public a few days a week for a few hours at a time. With physical needs dominating, it is hardly surprising that few small cultural heritage organizations have developed a web presence, let alone one that engages visitors. They often lack the time, money, and expertise needed to imagine and build a website that shares information and solicits memories, feedback, and artifacts. Unfortunately, this is happening just as new media is creating expectations that institutions will invite such participation and the American Association of Museums has established community engagement as its core value for the 21st century. While local history organizations face increasing pressures, the public history community has come better
A blog is a chronologically ordered webpage where the author posts musings, photos, documents, and links to other sites. Several free software applications allow people to set up customizable blogs with minimal technical expertise.
to recognize that most Americans understand history as a local and localized process. What new media applications, we wondered, could help small historical societies build and engage an audience to appreciate and contribute to its local history collection? As we explored this problem, we saw the potential that free and open source software and applications, many of them of a Web 2.0-style nature, could be bundled as a package. Such a product would be easy to add and edit content for staff or volunteers. It would cheap or free! Though we recommend and demonstrate a few standard features, we recognize that such a package would also be easy to customize. It would allow institutions to become a resource and a community center not tied to a particular physical location. We are not recommending closing the actual doors, however; rather we are encouraging small organizations to take advantage of the web’s unique capacity of being unrestricted by geography. We think these tools will root organizations more strongly in their local communities while helping them extend their presences without spending more funds. On the web, the cost of making an engaging web presence for the local community is the same as making one for a global community. Beyond their ease of use, there is another advantage to tools like Flickr, Google Maps, and Scribd that we present here. Because users of those sites can search and find images and documents an organization has uploaded, or maps it has created, new users can find an organization’s collections all the time. They do not have to be directed to a specific URL. In other words, they do not have to know a local historical society (like our example organization, the Westport Historical Society) exists in order to access its collections. The potential audience for a society’s collections grows exponentially by using applications that already have a large following. This toolbox then functions in two ways: • • Helps small cultural organizations to easily organize and present information, including collections, on-line Harnesses the interactive web (sometimes called Web 2.0) to help small organizations communicate to, to hear back from, and to create communities, locally, nationally and internationally
But we can’t do everything! Here’s what the Public Humanities Toolbox is NOT: • a one-way communication tool. Although you will see that some of the strategies and applications we suggest can be modified so that they are one-way, or “flat” communication tools, we envisioned the Public Humanities Toolbox as two-way: the organization makes itself more accessible to the public, the public can comment on, interpret, or modify the organization’s resources, and hopefully, co-create new experiences and resources with the organization. The Toolbox, we hope, will be a way for small cultural heritage organizations to invite broader participation and deeper engagement with their resources. an archival database. First of all, there are already resources for building databases. We are not experts at building databases. And databases are essentially flat; they, necessarily we understand, are carefully managed according to professional standards. Databases entail various barriers to casual perusal, let alone manipulation of the content. Our tools do not replace a traditional database or archive.
Before we get started we have these two words of advice: • Social media is like a free kitten: easy to get one, but then you have to take care of it. The tools we recommend in the Public Humanities Toolbox, though relatively simple to set up and use, do require maintenance from time to time. In fact, because we built this framework in order for small cultural heritage organizations to better connect with and engage their communities, maintenance should be a regular part of your staff or volunteers’ commitment to the organization. If folks don’t think anyone is listening or recognizing how they use your resources, they will probably lose interest. When planning to undertake any or some of the projects described in this handbook, include estimates for who will manage your future online presence. The tools are all there for the taking, but it is up to you to make them relevant and accessible. Choose your online projects carefully according to what you want them to accomplish. Do you want to find new supporters or reinforce relationships with existing supporters? Does your organization plan for the needs of changing demographics in your community? How can you use these tools to document and collect underrepresented stories and recent history? Will your design be straightforward and intuitive so that folks can easily find what you have created? The answers to these questions will guide your choice of tools as you build a website. (See Function Checklist below.)
Our Goals Nonprofit organizations, particularly small to medium sized cultural institutions, are under enormous pressure. Declining visitation, contracting financial support from previously reliable sources, and shifting generational leisure interests are but some of the formidable challenges facing these institutions. Creating and maintaining an engaging web presence is one clear opportunity that these organizations have to expand their reach, potentially gaining a crucial share of audience. Hopefully one result would be greater financial and human resource support. Most historical and cultural institutions lack the funds or the skills to develop a compelling web presence for their organization. They embrace the need, but cannot get to the next step of actual idea execution. That’s why we created the Public Humanities Toolbox—to help cultural heritage organizations execute their visions. With these ideas in mind, we would like to sketch out a few of our visions of the future for small cultural heritage organizations using the Public Humanities Toolbox model. • We envision a future where local history is instantly and constantly accessible; the end of frustration over the limited hours or inaccessible locations of small historical societies and museums. We envision a broadened scope for the audience of local history. The artifacts and stories of a particular place may inform the work of scholars, artists, or enthusiasts in far-flung places. Too often local societies assume that their assets are not of value to any beyond the city limits. Our experiences creating a demonstration site, Uncovering Westport, has led to—surprisingly!— contact with a French scholar working on industrial workers’ housing in a comparative context. In eight days, 60 people viewed a map of Westport’s historic resorts and tourist sites; this with virtually no promotion of our project beyond a few advisers and classmates. Choosing online applications that are easily searchable and widely used makes such connections possible. We envision new manipulations of data to draw new conclusions. The particular capacity of maps to show the relationship between people and the environment, events and places, and communication, trade, and social networks is hardly a new idea. However, the interactivity of digital maps allows users to discover these things for themselves, all in a local context. We envision the ability of teachers and students to incorporate local history into their teaching and learning. In an era of standardized tests over broad national themes and events, the local perspective is increasingly lost. Having an easily navigable web presence will create opportunity for teachers and students to trace how national and local history intersect and contrast. On that note, we envision a younger audience for local history! The staff, docents, volunteers, and members of historical societies are aging (and how)! Putting content on the web, using applications that are familiar and comfortable for Gen Xers and Millennials, meets new audiences where they are. We envision the collection and documentation of unheard voices. For instance: As the director of the Westport Historical Society is aware, its collection focuses on seventeenth through midtwentieth century history. The Yankee families who settled and remained in the town are well
documented. However, the North Westport community, which was more socio-economically diverse, and which was more or less dispersed by the construction of I-195, is not well represented in the society’s collections. New media may be the first step in soliciting the stories and even artifacts of these traditionally silent and invisible Westporters. We suspect that this will be true for other communities’ underrepresented histories. • We envision a collaborative network of small historical societies contributing content and expertise to a shared digital platform. The Public Humanities Toolbox evolved as an intensively and inherently collaborative project, and we suggest that successful digital initiatives will follow this pattern.
First, a Few Definitions This handbook will introduce you to many new terms and ideas, but a few are so fundamental to the idea of the Public Humanities Toolbox, we want to define them right at the beginning. • Web 2.0 The term “Web 2.0” dates to the O’Reilley Media Conference in 2004. 2 “Web 2.0” encapsulates a lot of ideas about… o the types of interactive, collaborative, and interoperable web applications developed after the dot-com bust of 2000-2001. o the ways users interact with each other and with content enabled by these applications. Web 2.0 applications take advantage of the unique features of the internet—the ability to hyperlink, to search vast streams of data and information, to connect to a community of people not limited by geography. In the world of Web 2.0, users do more than just retrieve information; they participate in creating, comparing, editing, commenting on, and sharing information. Many Web 2.0 applications are characterized by the ease with which non-experts (those without extensive programming skills) can add content (upload photos or videos, post musings on a blog, etc.) to the web. The ease of use and interactivity make these tools perfect for community organizations. There’s no way to provide an exhaustive list of Web 2.0 characteristics (people who think about these things are constantly coming up with new definitions) or actual applications, but here are a few you might be familiar with: blogs, tags, comments features, YouTube, Google Maps, Facebook. If you’re not familiar with them now, you will be after exploring the Public Humanities Toolbox. • Applications We talk about applications a lot in the Handbook. An application is a tool. For the purposes of the Public Humanities Toolbox, an application is something built by a very smart and creative computer programmer and hosted on an internet browser that you can use by setting up an account, downloading a plug-in, or embedding it in your own website. It features an interface that allows you to use it without knowing all the complicated programming or coding that goes on behind the scenes to enable its existence. We want to emphasize the “tool” aspect of the applications in this handbook. Rather than knowing a lot about how they work or why they developed in a certain way, we will focus on their utilitarian aspects—how they enable your organization to develop an engaging and accessible web presence. Yay, applications! To embed To embed an application means to insert a tiny bit of code which makes the tool appear as if it is part of your own website. In a sense, it now is part of your website. We especially love that most Web 2.0 applications automatically generate their own embedding code so you can easily copy and paste them into your own site. Voila! Elegant, seamless, integrated website! Often users can click on the embedded tool and it will hyperlink to wherever the tool originates. Google Maps is a common example of an embedded application; many sites embed a Google Map that shows their location. You’ve probably seen embedded videos on news and other sites.
Figure 1: Embedded video on The Brooklyn Museum's website. Here, the embedded video is hosted on YouTube (note the logo in the lower right-hand corner).
“Third Space” This term comes from people interested in community building. Where the home is the “first place,” and work is the “second space,” third spaces are places where people choose to go to socialize with others. These are the places where serendipitous encounters happen—sometimes with people we know, sometimes with strangers. You go there to discuss events, encounter new people and ideas, eventually build consensus, to engage in the public sphere. Historically third spaces have been defined by the ease with which people can access them—they are usually within walking distance—the community of regulars who habitually congregate there, and the presence of food and drink. In the past European sidewalk cafes, beer halls, labor or church halls, even bowling alleys have served this purpose. Starbucks tries to brand itself as the third space in many communities where it does business. Ray Oldenburg and others argue that third spaces are the anchors of communities and fundamental to civic engagement and democracy. Originally, third spaces were understood as physical places. Some theorize that “third space” activity today has largely migrated to the web. On a site like Facebook or on a blog with a regular set of contributors, readers, and commenters, people share and discuss ideas and keep up with events in ways similar to the old physical third spaces. Many Web 2.0 applications are characterized by the ways they enable some typical third space behaviors. It’s worth considering the extent to which you want your website to be a third space for your community. If this is among your goals, you will want to build features that allow folks to share their thoughts with you and each other. You may also consider asking questions or posting items to provoke discussion.
Blog A blog is a chronologically ordered webpage where the author posts musings, photos, documents, and links to other sites. Several free software applications allow people to set up customizable blogs with minimal technical expertise. Blogs are a form of web publishing—probably the easiest form of web publishing. Blogs run the gamut from online journal to serious tools of social change when they engage a large community around a single purpose. Some blogs, especially during election years, have drawn a lot of attention for the work of citizen journalists and the capacity for rapidly spreading stories to a large and vocal community of readers. Other blogs arise around
special interests that might otherwise not have an easy way to find like-minded folks, share news, or meet in a physical location. As with many aspects of the digital age, blogs enable serious “amateur experts” to compete with professionals for attention and readers. • Interoperability Interoperability is one of those web words that has been borrowed from another discipline, in this case engineering. It refers to the capacity of diverse systems to work together. On the web, this specifically refers to the ability of various web-publishing platforms, such as blogs, and applications, like Flickr or Google Maps, to work together without “special effort” from the user. The user just sees the finished product—a dynamic website where pictures and maps appear, where hyperlinks easily take you back and forth among pages—without seeing all the complicated coding that enables interoperability. The idea of interoperability goes hand-in-hand with embedding. Tagging Tags are words or short phrases that describe a blog post, a photo, or a document. Tags function like keywords that help people search for specific topics later on. Some librarians have called these keywords “folksonomies” because they function like taxonomies by, for, and of the people. Tags help users search for content. Tags may be related to content area or format. For instance, a transcription of a World War II veteran’s oral history may have the following tags: interview, World War II, WWII, veteran, soldier, oral history, transcription, history, local history. Users can view your profile and see what tags you commonly use to get a sense of your collection or archive’s strengths. Metadata Metadata literally means “data about data.” Metadata identifies items in a collection and includes information such as accession number, date of creation, creator (if known), title (if applicable), materials, culture of origin, donor, purchasing fund, and size. Cataloguers may then apply further classification terms to an item. Organizations have and use standard systems and terms as metadata.
My Organization’s Online Presence Self-Assessment My organization… Has a website Has a website with content that staff and volunteers can easily change. Has a website with an appealing, easily navigable layout. Yes No
My organization’s website… Has up-to-date information on location, hours, admission, and other visitor information. Has directions or a map showing the location of our site. Allows staff or volunteers to post announcements such as exhibit openings, programs, job openings, volunteer opportunities, etc., easily. Allows staff or volunteers to share links to other organizations or post news items that may be of interest to our community easily. Has an option for sharing part or all of our collection, including… • Photographs and images of 3-D objects • Documents or transcriptions • Video or audio files Allows visitors to comment on announcements, posted articles, or featured items from the collection. Has a designated space for visitors to share memories about a particular topic or in response to a posted question. Invites visitors to submit photographs, documents, or pictures of 3-D objects that may be of interest to your organization or your organization’s community. Allows users to edit content, e.g., a page describing the local history.
My organization… Has some or all of its collection digitized. Uses the web-publishing feature on Past Perfect. Has a blog. Maintains a Flickr page. Uses Scribd.
Has a Facebook profile. Uses Google Maps. Has a corps of staff or volunteers with basic internet skills (email, search engines, navigation from page to page, downloading and installing software).
As for me,… I have used at least one: blog, Flickr, Facebook. I have created at least one: blog, Flickr account, Facebook profile. I am the most tech/web-savvy person among my organization’s dedicated staff and regular volunteers. I am paid staff at my organization. I have time (or can designate someone else’s time) to build and maintain a more engaging website (let’s say 10-15 hours initially, 1-2 hours/week after that). I know at least one teenager who could help my organization build a more engaging website, either as a school assignment, as a volunteer, as an intern, or as paid parttime staff. I know what a Creative Commons license is. I am more overwhelmed than intrigued by all this Web 2.0 interactivity! I am more intrigued than overwhelmed by all this Web 2.0 interactivity! My boss will be supportive of using new media. My board will be supportive of using new media.
Envisioning an Engaging Online Presence How do you know what kind of online presence you want to have? It is important to assess what functions you want your website to perform. Read through the various functions below and rate whether having it is important, somewhat important, or not very important. Your ratings will determine what tools you will need to learn how to use to build your website. Function “Have a website” List hours/location/directions/admissions Post announcements about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, etc. Link to other sites or news articles that may be of interest to our community. Share a calendar of upcoming events. Share photographs from the collection (or images of 3-D objects in the collection). Share documents or transcripts of documents from the collection. Share organization publications, such as brochures, walking tours, catalogues, etc. Share resources for educators, such as lesson plans, pre- or post-visit activities, or field trip information and reservation forms. Share audio or video files of recordings in the collection. Build modified exhibits/maintain an online presence of a physical exhibit once it has been taken down. Maintain a profile on popular social networking sites like Facebook. Share podcasts, such as audio tours of the community or interviews with interesting locals or curators.
Invite community members to help identify unknown people, places, or events in your photographs collection. Collect personal histories from community members. Collect memories of specific events or people from community members Collect “objects” from community members by allowing them to share a digital copy. Facilitate discussion boards related to your organization’s interests (e.g. local history for an historical society, nearby arts events for a theater group, etc.). Maintain a wiki (of local history, for instance), allowing community members to post and edit encyclopedia entries about your local community. Collect and document underrepresented stories or people in the community. Collect and document recent (past 40 years) history. Find new supporters online. Maintain or strengthen relationships with existing supporters. Explanation of Functions In general, as the Functions chart progresses, the software and skills needed to perform them get more complex. They also get a little harder to learn how to use. This may be good news if your “very important” functions were clustered near the beginning! Another thing to note about the chart is that you can cherry-pick which things are most important to you and only add those to your basic website. So, let’s say you want to share photographs but not audio or documents. You can do that! Let’s say you want a regular website with a beefed up educators’ resources section, but have no interest in putting any items from your collection online. You can do that too!
The Public Humanities Toolbox: 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 In addition to going from relatively easy to relatively difficult to build and maintain, the Functions chart is organized theoretically according to how communication happens on your website. Is communication one-way or two-ways? Do you retain control of the content or can your public add to or edit the content? Here’s what that looks like in chart form: Three Versions of the Public Humanities Toolbox Toolbox 1.0 Toolbox 1.5 Toolbox 2.0 “Flat” “Carefully Managed Content” “Free for All Third Space” Communication is one-way; you Communication is still one-way, The key difference here is that as the institution post information but you are putting more of your communication is two-way. Your (about yourself) so that people collections “out there” for the public comments on your content can find your building and learn public to find. You may simply and discusses it among about programs and exhibits. be putting your collections themselves in a forum you have database online or building created. Other tools might allow simple online exhibits. You users to create their own content retain control of the content but in a variety of ways: by sharing potentially reach a larger images or documents held in their audience than a collection or private collections, by creating exhibit housed in a physical and editing encyclopedia entries location can. about your community, or by sharing their personal memories. We theorize Toolbox 2.0 with the following question: What is the difference between availability and accessibility? Here you don’t merely create an online version of your physical presence but rather use tools and create platforms that make your collections easier to find, easier to navigate, and open for reflection, discussion, and personal meaning-making. Replicating bricks and mortar? That’s availability. Allowing users to interact with you and your collection, to take the helm in navigating and interpreting the collection? That’s accessibility. They—the public—might index the content according to their own set of reference points by tagging an image or document. They may highlight the details of an image (using the “Add Note” feature of Flickr, for example) that is interesting, disturbing, or beautiful to them. They may link back to your content in their own blogs and web pages. No doubt they will navigate your exhibits and collections according to their own routes. They will find what matters to them and explore what matters to others. In all of these ways, they will make your content personally meaningful. We recommend that initially you focus on building your website according to function. What do you want to do and what tools are best for helping you accomplish your goals? However, we encourage you to spend some time thinking about what kind of organization you are and what you would like to be. Will you be open to engaging with new audiences who are used to the ease and flexibility of navigating an online world? Your collections, with sound financial management, will probably always be available, as long as your doors are open at least one day a week. However, we believe your varied resources— collections, expertise, your role as a center of the community—should be accessible, too. We encourage small cultural heritage organizations to imagine a deeper connection with a wider portion of the community, of the sort enabled in the world of Web 2.0.
A Note on Metadata Folks who work with collections, especially registering, accessioning, or de-accessioning items, are no doubt very familiar with metadata already. Metadata literally means “data about data.” Metadata refers to items in a collection and includes information such as accession number, date of creation, creator (if known), title (if applicable), materials, culture of origin, donor, purchasing fund, and size. Cataloguers may then apply further classification terms to an item. Organizations have and use standard systems and terms as metadata. In contrast to official taxonomies, or systems of classification employed by trained cataloguers, archivists, and librarians, Web 2.0 is characterized by the ability of the general public to create their own labels— usually called tags—to describe documents, articles, pictures, objects, and songs, for example. Some folks call these tags “folksonomies” to describe how they are generated by an untrained, if enthusiastic, general public. These tags are essentially new metadata. Scholars are now examining folksonomies and some cultural heritage institutions have begun to explore the usefulness of tagging for understanding how the public thinks about their collections.3 Many trained taxonomists—librarians and museum people especially—have been very wary about the practice and use of social tagging. Is it useful? Is it accurate? What do you do if it is inaccurate? Librarians and museum folks have also been wary about the idea of putting their content on the web where it may somehow be detached from its metadata. Our position is that cultural heritage organizations can still describe their objects using the full metadata that they would normally include on a museum label or even an object’s file. However, allowing the public to add its own metadata invites them to engage— through careful looking, through personal meaning-making, through application of prior knowledge—with your content. What you do with these new tags—this new metadata—is up to you. The Library of Congress decided to incorporate the tags generated about its collection on Flickr into a separate category of metadata in each object’s file.4 You may decide to ignore such metadata because it was generated by non-professionals. That is up to you. But we want to reassure you that you do not “lose” metadata or simply turn over your carefully crafted categories to the public for them to wreak havoc with when you use the various applications we discuss in the Handbook. Of course, you may imagine projects for which you do not want to include an object’s whole metadata, or you may want to use a less formal method of conveying that information than one usually finds in a museum collections database or on a wall label.
Steve.museum is a collaborative research project, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, that explores social tagging of art museum collections; learn more at http://www.steve.museum/. The IMLS’s report on the project, including how some institutions are using the data generated by the project can be found at http://www.imls.gov/profiles/Nov08.shtm. 4 The Library of Congress’s pilot project with Flickr is described elsewhere in the handbook, but it is definitely worth reading about. We highly recommend the LOC’s report on the pilot project to learn about how and why it started, and the organization’s analysis of its (unexpected) many successes. http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/flickr_report_final.pdf
Choosing Tools Choosing what tools (or applications) to include as you build your organization’s online presence depends on what functions you want. The following chart identifies various needs a small cultural heritage organization might have. You will see that next to each tool we have indicated whether it is an example of Toolbox 1.0, 1.5, or 2.0. In Appendix I, you can read about examples of various cultural heritage organizations using some of the tools described in this chart. We will admit we are partial to some tools over others; we have explained some of these biases after the chart. Functions & Tools Function/What you want to do Applications WordPress Blogger Blogspot Typepad Movable Type WordPress Blogger Blogspot Typepad Movable Type Google Maps WordPress Blogger Blogspot Typepad Movable Type WordPress Blogger Blogspot Typepad Movable Type Scribd Flickr Internet Archive Past Perfect Google Video YouTube Internet Archive Internet Archive Podcast Toolbox Version 1.0*
“Have a website”
Hours/locations/directions and other FAQs
Announcements about upcoming programs, exhibits, changes in the organization
Post links to projects, partner organizations, or other articles of interest to your constituent community Share text of documents from the collection Share photographs or other images from the collection or documentation of performances or other events Share video from the collection or documentation of performances or other events Share audio from the collection or documentation of performances or other events
1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5
Put up exhibits Share other documents, such as brochures, catalogue essays, educator resources Trace routes/show locations of historic places or events
FlickrΞ Omeka WordPressΞ Past PerfectΞ Scribd Google Maps WordPress (or other blog application) Comments feature on • Flickr • Scribd • Google Video • YouTube Flickr YouTube Tikiwiki
1.5 1.5 2.0
Collect personal memories; allow people to share what they know about the event, person, or place in question
Collect “objects”: Allow visitors to share (digitally) photos, 2.0 documents, etc., that they retain physical ownership of Build a wiki of local history (or whatever your area of 2.0 expertise is) that allows your community to contribute content *The advantage to all of the tools that we describe is that they can begin as flat 1.0 tools and later be amended to include more 1.5 and 2.0 features. Thinking Further The last four items on the Functions chart, you’ll notice, are not represented in the chart above. As a reminder, those functions were • Collect and document underrepresented stories or people in the community. • Collect and document recent (past 40 years) history. • Find new supporters online. • Maintain or strengthen relationships with existing supporters. No single tool does any of these things. We believe, though, that each goal is possible if your organization makes a strong commitment to becoming more accessible and more relevant. The Public Humanities Toolbox explains how to use these tools but the commitment to accomplishing these goals comes from you. As you plan an engaging web presence, think carefully about how important such goals are and how each tool can serve them best. Make purposeful decisions based on how the tools contribute to your organization’s overall mission and strategic goals. Our (many) biases Many applications that we describe share functions with a variety of competitors. We will try to explain why we chose certain applications over others: Why WordPress, not Blogger, Blogspot, Moveable Type, or Typepad? With certain features enabled or disabled With certain features enabled or disabled With certain features enabled or disabled
There are many blogging options. We like WordPress because it is a non-profit and open source tool with a large community of users who are frequently adapting and improving the software. The creative and helpful WordPress community is constantly coming up with a variety of plug-ins that make changing the look and capacity of your website very easy. Many of the other applications we describe have been built to seamlessly integrate into a WordPress platform. WordPress also comes in two versions; we call them “Fast and Easy” WordPress and “Bigger and Better” WordPress. (As you’ll read below, they vary in terms of technical expertise, flexibility, and overall capacity.) Did we mention how helpful they are? In addition to an active forum for posting questions, there is also 24-hour technical help available via the Internet.
Why Flickr, not Picasa or something else? • Picasa, Google’s relatively new photosharing service, allows users to search, edit, and share one’s photographs. It does not currently feature many of the tools that Flickr does that we like so much: tagging, comments, notes, group pools, geotagging, viewing statistics, etc. One of the other things we like about Flickr is the large community of users Flickr already has. There are plenty of folks to help explain things, to look through and label photos, and to write plug-ins to make embedding Flickr into blogs easier. Why YouTube over Google Video? • When we began this project, we liked Google Video better. Initially it allowed users to upload larger and longer video files. However, recently Google Video has stopped allowing people to upload new content. This is an example of how internet-based tools adapt and change constantly. We say this not to discourage you from wading in, but to adequately prepare you to be flexible! You Tube also offers the best set of social networking features (comments, like, embed code, URLs, etc.). Why Scribd rather than PDFs? • As you’ll find out, Scribd allows you to embed documents directly into a web page. Unlike a PDF, which users access by clicking on a small icon and being redirected to the full document, Scribd allows users to read a full document without leaving the main page. The document maintains all of its formatting. Users can still download and print documents housed in Scribd. Scribd also has a host of social networking features, similar to those in YouTube. Scribd automatically generates embed code for WordPress (and separate code for other blogging or web publishing platforms). As with Flickr, Scribd also has a large community of users who may find your documents (by searching your tags or descriptions) without being directed to them from your website. Probably the best reason for choosing Scribd over PDFs, though, is that all text in Scribd documents is indexed and therefore findable in any major search engine like Google or Yahoo. Just as pictures in Flickr easily turn up in Google Image searches, Scribd documents can also turn up. This makes your content easier to find. Scribd and PDFs are not mutually exclusive. You can easily host both from your website and allow users to determine which method makes the most sense to them. Why not Internet Archive? • The Internet Archive was created in 1996 to provide permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format. The Internet Archive is working to prevent the Internet - a new medium with major historical significance - and other "born-digital"
materials from disappearing into the past. This extraordinary effort now includes 160,000 movies, 59,000 concerts, 304,000 recordings, and 1,250,000 texts. However, we have found that for storage and retrieval purposes, the archive is cumbersome and disorganized. As a test we loaded two documents into the archive but later had trouble searching, retrieving and linking them to our blog. While part of the beauty of the Archive is that it does not rely on any single commercial developer, the search and tagging capacities are haphazardly provided by individual contributors. While we encourage you to think about adding your collections to the Internet Archive, we do not think it has yet developed enough tools that can easily be adapted to build one’s own engaging website. Why not Omeka (yet)? • Omeka is a free open-source web publishing platform that allows scholars, museums, archives, libraries, educators, and amateur enthusiasts to share collections. Several large institutions— especially in the academic community—have started using Omeka, but so far not many little guys have. We are really excited about what Omeka will be in the future. However, at this point using Omeka requires a lot of “know-how” about setting up servers, downloading extensive software, etc. The folks at the Center for New Media and History who’ve been developing Omeka reassure us that a newer, easier version of Omeka is in the works. Since it is not ready yet, though, we are focusing on the tools that are ready, straightforward, and easiest for folks with limited time and expertise to use. Why not PastPerfect? • This is probably the million-dollar question; in answering it we reveal our deep ambivalence, if not antipathy for PastPerfect. PastPerfect is about objects, not about people. It’s not about the public, or the community, or any of that. There’s a perfectly good reason for PastPerfect to exist—to help an organization keep track of its collection. However, our interests are about what organizations do with their objects, how they use them to engage with the public and the ways the public can access an organization’s various resources, collections being just one type of resource. The PastPerfect features that allow organizations to build online exhibits do not employ any of the interactive tools that characterize Web 2.0. PastPerfect keeps it about the objects. It is the flattest tool imaginable. Unlike the alternative tools we describe in the handbook, some of which can be “flat,” PastPerfect’s online exhibit tools cannot ever be amended to 1.5 or 2.0 versions. We also find PastPerfect’s tools to be neither elegant nor intuitive; in short, PastPerfect is clunky.
How do I use…WordPress? WordPress is an open-source blogging software that allows users to create a website with relatively little technical expertise. A blog (or web log) allows administrators to create posts giving updates on thoughts, events, etc. WordPress features large community of programmers and developers have built plug-ins, widgets and other customizable features that allow anyone to develop a unique website in an infinite variety of ways. The Public Humanities Toolbox exploits the various capacities of WordPress—its simple interface, its customizability—as the framework around which to build an engaging website for the small cultural heritage organization. Whether your interest is in building a basic “bulletin board” of announcements or in creating an interactive social network, we believe WordPress offers the depth and breadth of communication tools to extend your organizational reach. WordPress offers two options for building a website. The first and simplest option is to start a free blog that will be hosted at www.wordpress.com (see “Fast and Easy WordPress” below). The second option, which entails more steps and a higher degree of technical know-how, allows much greater versatility for the look and features of your website; although you have to set it up on a third-party server—explained below!—this option from www.wordpress.org is free; features a straight-forward, intuitive design; easy set-up and management tools; and an extensive and responsive “Help” community. We explain this option in the section “Bigger and Better WordPress” below. We have set up The Public Humanities Toolbox website using “Fast and Easy WordPress.” We also built the site Art+History for a student project in Brown University’s public humanities program using only the features described in “Fast and Easy WordPress.” Fast and Easy WordPress 1. Go to Wordpress.com. 2. Sign up for a blog. You will need a working email address (we recommend you use the same account you’ve set up for all the various applications we explain in the Handbook). 3. Choose a name for your blog. This will set up the address of your blog as http://yournamehere.wordpress.com. Because you have chosen the “Fast and Easy” WordPress option, your address is not an independent domain name, hence the inclusion of “wordpress.com” at the end of the address. That ending indicates the server where the blog is hosted. 4. Select administrators and other site management tools. (You can add additional folks later.) Also indicate whether you want the site to be open to the public or only accessible to invited readers. Initially, as you develop the site, we recommend the latter. This way you can keep your “construction mess” out of view of the general public. When your site is ready to launch to the wider public, you can change the settings to allow all members of the general public to find you. 5. Go to “My Dashboard.” All of the basic tools are arrayed for you at My Dashboard, including a tally of the most recent posts, comments, and site visits. Start creating your blog by selecting how it will look from among the various templates (“Appearance”) and the pages and posts you want to create. 6. A page is a separate tab within your blog. You can enable or disable the comments features of pages. Think of pages as organizational tools to explain different aspects of your organization, such as “Exhibits,” “Education,” “Collections,” etc. Although it is simple to change text or images
of pages, we recommend you think of pages as relatively static pieces of information. Pages will automatically appear in alphabetical order unless you manually change the ordering. 7. Posts appear as entries on a blog. Posts appear in reverse chronological order, the most recent posts at the top. You can enable or disable the comments features for posts. We encourage you to use posts as a way to post announcements, topics of discussion, etc. We highly recommend enabling comments on posts so that can garner feedback from and engage your online community. If you find some posts offensive, as the administrator you can delete them. 8. You can embed images, sound files, short movies, etc. in posts or pages. (See “Bigger and Better WordPress” below.) As you will read elsewhere in the Handbook, you can also embed Flickr, Google M0aps, and Scribd documents in your blog. These options are explained in those sections. Bigger and Better WordPress This WordPress option requires you to have your own server and domain name. So, rather than having your website hosted by WordPress (http://yournamehere.wordpress.com), you host it (www.yournamehere.org). For instructions on how to set up a server and domain name, see Appendix I: WordPress Grunt Work. The instructions below detail how to install WordPress on your own server. We set up our demonstration project, Uncovering Westport, using Bigger and Better WordPress. Registering a domain name and buying server space is relatively inexpensive. Our server, Bluehost, rents space for $6.95/month; if you register a domain name through them, total cost is $10/month. GoDaddy, another popular domain registration site, offers domain names for $9.99/year. If you do not have your own server space, we recommend getting a package deal. The best values will be about $100/year for server and domain name. See Appendix I: WordPress Grunt Work for more information. 1. Install File Protocol Transfer software. File Protocol Transfer (FTP) allows you to transfer files from your computer to your host server. You can find a variety of FTP applications; we like free, open-source Filezilla. Filezilla works for both Macs and PCs. It allows you to drag and drop files from one location to another without understanding complicated programming language. 2. Download the basic software. Go to www.wordpress.org. Download the current version of the software (as of January 2009, that’s WordPress 2.7). This will download a .zip file to your computer; we recommend downloading it to your desktop for the time being. WordPress offers excellent and easy-to-follow instructions for installing the software after you have downloaded it to your desktop. Find the section “Installing WordPress” and really pay attention to “The Famous Five Minute Installation.” Here you will find step-by-step instructions to install WordPress on your host server. 3. Copy WordPress to Your Server. Detailed instructions for copying WordPress to your server can be found in Appendix I: WordPress Grunt Work. We’ve also explained some of the best plug-ins available to Bigger and Better Wordpress users in Appendix II: Plug-Ins and Recommendations.
How do I use…widgets? What can it do for you? Widgets are navigation tools for your website. They are optional plug-ins that appear in your website’s sidebar. Some examples include calendars, RSS feeds, or a list of recent entries. Think of WordPress widgets as practical and useful “fashion accessories” for your blog. These cool plug-ins allow you to develop a unique look and feel for your site by simply dragging them into the sidebars and modifying them according to standard text and HTML code. Widgets are the simplest way for you to give your site its own personality. The difference between a plug-in and a widget is that a widget always appears in the sidebar, rather than embedded in the main text of a page or post. How do users interact with them? Widgets, like other plug-ins appear as regular features of your website. When people visit your site, they will see the widgets embedded into the site: search bar, calendar, RSS feed, etc. Some, such as the Folding Pages widget, operate in the background without the visitor knowing how it organizes your content. Most widgets appear in the sidebars of your blog. We have chosen the following examples to illustrate a variety of possible widgets that you might consider for your project. You can also see for yourself by going to WordPress’ Plug-In directory and select widgets. (There are currently 610 available.) You can also just search for WordPress widgets in any search engine. How do you do it? All themes come with very basic pre-installed widgets. Installing them is very simple. When on your site’s dashboard, select Presentation from the main toolbar, then click on Widgets. Drag and drop the widgets you want into the appropriate sidebar where you want them to appear. Other widgets have to be downloaded from various developers. The process is the same as downloading a plug-in. We recommend the following: • Flash Flickr Badge Widget (see Figure 2). This is our favorite widget that allows you to embed photos from Flickr into your sidebar. The developer Erick Rasmussen has also written a set of easy-to-follow instructions. For further information, see his site at Eric’s Blog. Flash Mp3 Player To embed an audio file in your sidebar, we recommend this widget.
Figure 2: Flash Flickr Badge Widget
How do I use…Flickr? Flickr is the world’s most popular photo sharing site. Every day thousands of photos are uploaded to Flickr accounts around the globe. In January 2008, Flickr and the Library of Congress launched an effort called “The Commons” (www.flickr.com/commons), a joint effort to share images from LOC’s American Memory collection with a wide public and to explore the ways that institutions can benefit from community input. While the Library of Congress is a 1,000 pound gorilla among cultural heritage organizations, we believe that Flickr holds even more exciting prospects for smaller societies with limited budgets, time, and web-building expertise. We recognize that Flickr is neither perfect nor is it necessarily a permanent solution for housing digitized materials. Flickr does not replace traditional archival methods. However, Flickr is an easy-to-use application that can create an engaging web presence for a small organization. It can host historical images in a forum that allows a wide audience to search for, view, and comment.
Figure 2: The first page of Uncovering Westport's photostream. Sets of photos organized around themes ("Beach Work") are listed on the right side of the page.
What can it do for you? New features are added to Flickr all of the time, expanding the ways photos can be organized and viewed. We have created a free Flickr account for the Uncovering Westport project to demonstrate some of its uses for a small cultural heritage organization. The free account allows users to upload 100MB of photos a month and to create up to three sets (more about those below). A pro account, which costs approximately $25/year allows users unlimited uploads, sets, collections, as well as access to various tools to track usage and views of the account. Unlike many other photo sharing applications, Flickr offers many tools to help you organize your images. Its ubiquity and its superior (and constantly evolving) tools are two important reasons why we recommend using Flickr.
Because Flickr is so popular, there are many people around the world figuring out bits of code that allow Flickr images to be embedded in other applications such as WordPress or Google Maps. As with other aspects of the Uncovering Westport model, this allows for an almost instantaneous polished and engaging online presence. Other Flickr features are described below. How do users interact with it? The most basic and passive way that users interact with Flickr is by viewing photos. Users scroll through photos and read descriptions. Users have the option of enlarging a photo to see details more clearly. As the administrator of the Flickr page, you can include as much or as little information about an image. The Library of Congress has labeled each of its photos with all of its metadata. On Uncovering Westport’s photostream, we tried to include a short description of what was happening in the photo and how it was related to larger themes in Westport’s history. We also noted what collection each photo came from, although we did not include each photo’s full metadata. In some cases, we provided links to articles or maps that provided more information about a topic. Depending on the theme (Mill site, beach) of the map, we also created links to the Google Maps that displayed other sites and Figure 4: Photo with description. Description has links to photos associated with that theme. The ability related articles around the shipwreck depicted in the to create interconnected, hyperlinked labels is photo. one of the most useful features for a small historical society to facilitate learning (See Figure 4). It also creates new knowledge about the collections as staff (and the public) make connections impossible to imagine when materials sit in a storeroom. Users can also comment on the photo. This “talk back” feature of Flickr is not only good for creating a more engaging web environment, but can also be useful for soliciting information about people, places, or events that you would like to know more about. In addition to the description and comments functions, the administrator or users can place notes directly on a photo. Notes function somewhat like Post-its. They are useful for directing the viewer’s attention to a detail or for adding more information about one aspect of an image. The notes feature can make images come alive by providing rich and layered context for any particular image (See Figure 5). Users can tag a photo with a short phrase that describes the image. Tags can be created and limited by the administrator. Figure 5: Each box, which only appears when you
move your mouse over the image, is a note. This note identifies the estate hidden under the trees.26
Tags function like keywords that help people search for specific topics later on. Some librarians have called these keywords “folksonomies” because they function like taxonomies by, for, and of the people. Tags make your collection more searchable both internally and externally, among the millions of images hosted by Flickr. When a user clicks on a hyperlinked tag, she can choose to search for other pictures in your collection or among all collections that share the same tag. As the administrator, when you are signed in you can also see how many times an image has been viewed and whether anyone has called it a favorite. With the pro account, Flickr administrators can view daily statistics for their photostream, including how many times it has been viewed, daily and all time stats for each image, what search terms people are using to find images, and URLs for any websites that link to your photostream or images. Users can select favorites to indicate that they found it interesting, beautiful, or relevant to their lives. Don’t be surprised when people find you. Depending on how you label or tag your photos, people from around the world may look at, comment on, favorite, or ask to learn more about your images. Uncovering Westport’s map of Westport Factory was favorited by someone in France who is interested in industrial workers’ housing. We were then able to share more information and direct him to other images of historic workers’ houses from our collections. A note on an image pointing out a cat boat helped a group of cat boat enthusiasts find our photostream; they asked if they could add that particular photo to their group pool. The potential for a society to use Flickr to engage with a wide public and to learn more about what is in its own collection are endless! How do you do it? Flickr provides very simple instructions and has a very easy interface to use for uploading images. These directions are the most basic options, but if you have trouble there is an FAQ section and a Flickr blog to post queries (or search old queries). (See http://www.flickr.com/help/faq/ and http://blog.flickr.net/en). 1. Create an account. You will need a Yahoo account to create a Flickr account, so if you do not already have one, register for a free account. The Uncovering Westport project required us to create accounts to use various applications. We recommend creating a common username and password for all accounts. 2. At any time you can create your profile. In your profile, explain who you are, what your interests are, and why you have created the account. Here is where you can describe your organization, provide your website’s address, your street address, hours, etc. Of course, you can always choose not to create a profile. 3. Upload pictures. Under “You” scroll down to the “Upload Photos and Videos” option. You will see a place for you to browse files on your computer to select and upload photos. At this stage you can also choose to add tags to the entire batch of photos and to mark the images as private or public. 4. Label and describe photos. You can do this when you upload the pictures. At this point you can also add more tags to individual pictures. If you ever desire to change a label, description, or tag, you just click the text
you want to change when you are signed into your account and you will be able to edit. Always remember to save changes. 5. Add notes, change display, or delete. When you click on the individual photo in your photostream, it will appear larger with a comments section below. Across the top of the image, you will see options to change sizes, rotate, delete, etc. You can also add notes. When you click “Add note” a small box will appear on the photo. You can click and drag the box to whatever you wish to highlight. You can drag the corners of the box to change its size. You can then type your note in the dialogue box that appears. Notes only appear when the user moves his mouse over the photo. 6. Add tags. Add tags to your photo to make them more searchable by content or style. Each word in the tags box will be a separate tag, so if you have a multi-word tag (such as “Westport Historical Society”), include it in quotes. Other features of note You can upload any image (JPEG, GIF, etc.) file to Flickr. In Uncovering Westport, we used this capacity to include not only photographs but also crops of maps that illustrate particular themes (mill sites in Westport Factory) or places (Central Village, East Beach, etc.). Flickr is available in many languages, including Spanish, Chinese, French, and Portuguese. This may be useful depending on the community you represent. You can select from a variety of licensing and restrictions options when you upload an image to Flickr. You can restrict whether people are allowed to use your photo for commercial or non-commercial purposes, to display your images on their own sites (popular among bloggers), and whether they have to give you credit if they do use your images. (See Figure 6.) Your photos will appear in the order that you upload them into Flickr. (You can change this order with a lot of tedious editing of the photo’s metadata.) Since your photostream does not necessarily have any organizational principle, users can create sets and collections to display a complete series of images organized around a central topic. One way to think of a set is as an online exhibit of images. To create a set, choose the “Organizr” feature at the top of the screen. The choose “Create New Set.” All of your photos will appear as a scroll bar along the bottom of the page. Click and drag photos into the set. You can move pictures to change the order. You can also choose which image you want to appear as the set’s cover. You can create a short description identifying the set as well. Finally, as you add new images later, you can also choose to add them to an existing set. One possibility for a set is to create a group of photos for which you do not know enough detail. Think of the unidentified people or places that people in your community may be able to name. In the case of Uncovering Westport, the community can help us label places, people, boats, and houses. Or think of the
Figure 6: Various copyrighting options.
particular types of knowledge you can tap into by allowing others to explain more. They can give us context for, say, the photo of a man harpooning a swordfish, to fully elucidate the community of sport fishermen in the town. You might consider creating a set entitled “Help Us Identify” or “Mysteries” to include these images. Not only will such a set help identify obscure artifacts, but it can also engage a participatory community of history-makers. Collections are basically sets of sets. Think of the collections feature as a way to organize around very broad themes, such as “People” or “Architecture.” Images and sets can belong to more than one set or collection at the same time. You can also create groups in Flickr. Unless you share your username and password, other users who may have images related to yours cannot upload into your account. Of course, you may be fine with this! But if you are interested in discovering other images of your community’s history, you might consider creating a group. Groups allow you to find people who share your interests. Groups have pools of photos that users can contribute their own photos to. You can be specific about what content you seek or how many images you want people to contribute. Further, you can set groups as Public, Public (Invitation Only), or Private to control who may join and add photos. As a group administrator, you can also search for content and ask people to contribute their photos to your group’s pool of photos. One final feature of note is the ability to place your photos on a map. This may seem somewhat redundant if you are using the Google Maps option. If you do place photos on a map (or “geotag” them), then people who are searching Flickr’s map will see them. Also, people can download applications to Google Maps or other map services to see Flickr images appear as they search the map. You can add photos to a map as a batch operation in Organizr or individually by choosing the “Add this picture to a map?” option on the lower right hand side of the individual photo’s page.
How do I use…Google Maps? Many people are already familiar with Google Maps if they have ever searched for a place in Google and had it return an address and a map. They may have also used Google Maps to get driving directions. However, in spring 2007, Google Maps added a new feature, “My Maps,” (www.maps.google.com) that allows users to create and share their own maps. This section will discuss the My Maps feature and how it was used in the Uncovering Westport project. What can it do for you? My Maps allows anyone who has registered for a free account with Google to create a map showing points of interest organized around a theme. An historical society can create maps to show where the locations of historic sites. One can create different maps for different aspects of a place’s history, which is what we did in Uncovering Westport. We selected themes suggested by the 2006 Archaeological Survey such as “agriculture,” “resorts and tourism,” and “mill sites” (see Figure 7).
Figure 7: Westport's Agricultural Activities Map in Google Maps
Other organizational strategies might include creating different maps illustrating a particular moment in time (i.e., “Revolutionary War Westport” or “19th Century”) or the experiences of a particular race, class, or gender (“19th Century Immigrants in Providence,” or “Jim Crow Charlotte”). Another exciting possibility is creating a map drawn from the oral history testimony of an individual, mapping out the sites she or he describes in an interview. Each map is essentially a different “layer” of markers. Different layers can be viewed separately or concurrently. Showing different themes at the same time can lead to insights about the relationship between communities, individuals, and the environment. The points on the map can be described in captions and illustrated with historical maps or photographs (see Figure 8). One can also provide links to
articles that further describe the site, its past or present uses, or its restoration. Google’s My Maps is the option we used and recommend. It is free to start an account and very easy to add and edit content. Once you have created a public map, it is available for any user exploring the area to find, not just users guided directly from your main page or with a direct URL. Further, most users will already be familiar with Google Maps. How do users interact with it? Users can manipulate your maps in several ways. The basic feature is the ability to click on the icon that marks a place and have it open up a dialogue Figure 8: Westport Factory Mill Site Detail box with a caption, image, link, or some combination of the three. As explained earlier, an image in the dialogue box can be linked to a photostream in Flickr so that the user is directed there when she or he clicks on the image. The other basic interaction that will already be familiar to most users is the ability to zoom in and out and to move about the map. This interactive activity can be performed in Map, Satellite, or Terrain mode. Depending on the site you have selected, you may recommend to users that they view it in one mode or the other. For instance, the satellite view of Westport Factory shows the remains of an old amusement park and its large wooden roller coaster. A marker in Map mode would not indicate the actual lay of the land of the site; in this case, the satellite version can help the user make the connection between past and present uses of the site. Figure 9 shows a comparison between the same view in Map and Satellite modes.
Figure 9: Satellite vs. Map view of Lincoln Park, showing rollercoaster in satellite mode.
Terrain mode can also help the user visualize the natural features, such as streams or elevation, of a place that are important in interpreting past uses, like the placement of a gristmill by a stream or windmill on a rise, that would not occur to modern visitors. In addition to changing the viewing mode and zooming in and out of the map, viewers can decide which layers or maps to display. As we mentioned earlier, each map you create is essentially a different layer that can be displayed individually or with other maps. In our case, “Resorts and Tourism” and “1938
Hurricane Damage” are two separate maps or layers. By displaying both maps at the same time, one gets a sense of the terrible damage wrought by the hurricane of 1938 on Westport’s beach community (see Figure 10). Conversely, if one were to view “1938 Hurricane Damage” and “Historic Mill Sites” at the same time, one would conclude that the hurricane did not significantly impact Westport industry.
Figure 10: Westport's Resorts and Tourism and Hurricane Damage maps viewed concurrently. Purple markers indicate hurricane damage.
For Uncovering Westport, we also set up all photos associated with points on the maps as links to the Flickr page (see below). Doing so enables users to click on the image and be taken to a larger view of the image. On the Flickr page they can post comments on an individual image or the site it depicts and share their memories of the site. This feature has the added advantage of directing users who may have discovered the map on their own to find your organization’s other photo collections and learn more about your community. How do you do it? Setting up an account and creating maps is very simple, though it may be time consuming. The directions for how to set up an account and to create maps are explained on the Google My Maps Help section (http://maps.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=68480). This section borrows heavily from Google’s explanation. 1. Create an account. 2. Select the My Maps tab, then the “Create New Map” link. On the left hand side of the map, you will see a place to name and describe your map. (See Figure 11) 3. Choose a title for your map.
Figure 11: Create, name, and describe your map. Choose a title that describes simply the main theme or content of the map. Because public maps are available to anyone searching in Google Maps, your title should help unfamiliar seekers quickly know what they are looking at.
4. Add a description of your map.
Here is where you can describe in more detail the theme or contents of the map, the sources you used to create it, and the ways that you intend the public to use it. If you anticipate that new Google Maps users will view your map, you may also want to explain the features (such as clicking on the icons or clicking on photos to see a larger image). 5. Zoom into the area of the world where you are going to create your map. To place items on a map, the more you have zoomed in, the more accurate the placement will be. You can always zoom back out to get perspective or to move to other parts of the map. 6. Find the add features tools. There are three basic objects you can add to the map. You can add points, lines, or shapes. Use the lines to draw routes, trace roads or waterways, etc. Use the shapes to highlight a particular area within a larger map, such as a neighborhood. Points correspond to specific addresses on a map. (See Figure 12) 7. Select the point icon that looks like an upside down teardrop. Drag it to and drop it on the part of the map that corresponds to a significant place or event. After you do that, a bubble should pop up that allows you to give a name to the point, write a caption, and insert a picture.
Figure 12: Add Features Tools
In our experience, this can be the most time consuming part of the process. Figuring out where events or buildings were that do not correspond directly with modern street addresses can be a challenge. If you are lucky, the site you wish to mark will correspond to a given street address. If you type the address in the search bar at the top of the screen, a green arrow will indicate the precise location. Just drag and drop your point marker over the green arrow! 8. Name the point. Type the description. Include any links to outside pages that you think are helpful. 9. Adding pictures is not hard, but it does involve a few extra steps. First of all, the image you insert must be hosted on the web somewhere. We have used Flickr to host images (see below) although one can use any site, including an online database if your organization already has one. Whatever you choose, you will need to get the URL for the individual photo. These directions describe how to import a photo from Flickr. In the dialogue box, choose “rich text” for typing. This option allows you to highlight, bold, and italicize text in addition to add photos easily. Click on the icon to the far right that looks like a
small photo. A box will pop up that asks you to paste the URL for the image you want to insert. To find the image URL: In Flickr click on the image you want to show in Google Maps. Choose the photo’s “All Sizes” option at the top of the image. Scroll down until you see the option “Grab the photo’s URL.” Copy the address. Then paste this address into the dialogue box on Google Maps. Click OK. Shortly, your image should appear in the dialogue box. sometimes you can right click on an image and select “Copy image’s location” to get the photo’s URL. To link Google Map images to Flickr: There is one simple last step you can take to direct visitors to the map towards your photostream in Flickr. Copy the URL of the photo’s page (the page that shows the photo, its tags, and the comments section). Then, in the Google Maps dialogue box, click on the image and then click on the Link button (that looks like a chain link) fifth from the right in Rich text mode. A box pops up asking you to paste a link in. Paste the link from the photo’s image page and press “Okay.” The image will then be highlighted in blue. Now it is a live link! 10. Save. Repeat as many times as necessary. When you are completely finished, click the “Done” button. To make changes later, you can always press edit and adjust as necessary. Other features of note Google Maps is a free application. Maps can be marked as private or public. Private maps can only be viewed by you when you are logged in. Public maps, however, can be viewed by anyone who does a search for maps or sites in a particular area or who has the direct URL of your map.
How do I use…Scribd? Scribd describes itself as the Flickr of documents. Instead of uploading photographs, however, users upload documents. Scribd has created iPaper, which allows users to upload Word, Excel, Power Point, PDF, and other formatted documents and then read them in their original format. Rather than having to transcribe texts into html to make them readable and searchable on the web, users can simply upload documents they have already created. Best of all, iPaper maintains the format of the document as it was originally created. Documents look good on the web, and that’s why we recommend it. iPaper can easily be embedded into other web pages, like blogs. The Scribd community boasts 50,000,000 readers and nearly 50,000 new documents uploaded daily. Although only a few museums and historical societies have started to use Scribd, the Whitney Museum among them, many other organizations use it. They include NASA, the IRS, the Atlantic Monthly magazine, and even Barack Obama’s campaign.
Figure 13: Two examples of iPaper. On the left, a conservation trust has uploaded its brochure, originally in a PDF format. On the right, a scholar's list of archival resources, originally in Word format.
What can it do
for you? Scribd can be used in a variety of ways. Museums and historical societies can share past and present newsletters, brochures, and other literature such as meeting minutes or annual reports. Education departments can easily share lesson plans, pre- and post-visit materials, and registration forms. Collections departments can share transcriptions or curatorial statements. Scribd is entirely free. Your organization can upload as many documents it likes, where they will be searchable within the Scribd community and via a normal web search in Google, Yahoo, or similar. These documents, as mentioned before, can also be embedded in your host site. Because all of the text on iPaper is indexed, users can easily search for specific phrases or topics. This makes your collections more accessible. It also may be helpful internally, as one can easily find documents relating to a topic without an item’s full title or other metadata.
How do users interact with it?
Depending on how you choose to use Scribd, your users will interact with in two different ways. We highly recommend directly embedding iPaper documents into your host blog (WordPress, Blogger, etc.). In this case, users will remain on your webpage but be able to read the texts hosted in Scribd. Users can also go to your account, hosted at Scribd, and page through your posted documents. When you upload a document, you have the option to provide a short description and any other metadata you think is pertinent. Users can flip through all of the documents you have uploaded or search for documents on a related theme among others’ documents. As the administrator of the account, you can determine whether or not to allow users to download documents directly to their computers. This may be a concern for copyrighted or other specially licensed materials, should you have them. If you have enabled the ability to download documents, then users will download pertinent or meaningful documents. One of the most attractive features of Scribd is the ability of your readers to comment on and tag documents. Readers can also indicate whether they like a document (similar to the “Favorite” feature in Flickr). How do you do it? Setting up an account and uploading documents is very straightforward. One can find a complete (and very helpful list) of frequently asked questions and directions at http://www.scribd.com/faq. This set of directions draws heavily on Scribd’s directions. 1. Create an account. As with Google Maps, Flickr, or one of the blog services, we recommend using an email account that you have created especially for setting up and maintaining your online presence. 2. Upload documents. You can upload many types of documents, including… When you have selected documents to upload, you can indicate which ones, if any, you would like to mark as private. Private documents cannot be indexed by Google or searched for by the general public. They also cannot be embedded in your blog or other webpage. 3. Describe your document(s). For each document, choose a title and add a short description. Here is where you can add metadata if the item is from your collection, or labeling text that helps orient the reader to the context of the document. 4. Categorize your document(s). You can choose from a drop-down menu of topics and categories to help organize your document and make it more “findable.” Examples of topics include “Academic Work,” “Brochures,” etc., and categories include areas like “History” or “Essay.” Other Scribd users can search documents by category and/or topic to find others like it. 5. Add tags. As in Flickr, tags help users search for content. Tags Figure 14: Sharing options include Wikipedia, the document's unique may be related to content area URL, and embedding code. or format. For instance, a transcription of a World War II
veteran’s oral history may have the following tags: interview, World War II, WWII, veteran, soldier, oral history, transcription, history, local history. Users can view your profile and see what tags you commonly use to get a sense of your collection or archive’s strengths. 6. Share document, if desired. For each document you have uploaded you will have the option to notify specific people that it is now available by filling in their email addresses. You also will see a dialogue box that shows the document’s individual URL, and a short piece of code that enables you to embed the iPaper version of the document into another webpage, such as a blog. (One code option is specifically made for WordPress.) You will also see options to share your document in a variety of other Web 2.0 sites, such as Digg, del.icio.us, and Wikipedia. (See Figure 14) 7. Review comments, favorites, and other activity. Periodically, check the usage of your documents. See if folks have posed questions in the comments section or have suggested similar documents. You may be surprised to find a community of passionate amateur historians! (See Figure 15)
Figure 15: This brochure, "Westport: A Sportsman's Paradise" has been viewed 366 times and downloaded three times. One person calls it a favorite. It has been searched by Google, Yahoo, and MSN. One can also see what search terms people used to find it.
Other features of note Each time you as the administrator log in to your Scribd account, you will see a homepage detailing “Notifications.” Notifications indicate when something has happened to one of your documents: it has been commented on, tagged, or viewed. This is helpful for keeping track of usage, especially as you prepare annual reports or grant applications to support continued development of your online presence.
You might consider creating a “one-sheet” of important facility information, such as hours that you are open, admission or research costs, and other frequently asked questions. This allows visitors to easily print out the information they need in a familiar Word format.
How do I…upload media files? Embedding audio or video files into your blog is more than a way to “dress up” your site. Many organizations hold collections of material from past lectures, discussions, performances, and oral histories. Unless folks can come in during regular open hours, however, it can be difficult to share these resources with the public. Streaming audio or video from your website is a powerful method of sharing content and programs. Like the other applications described in the handbook, programmers have developed elegant and simple methods for embedding video into a website. Two basic methods exist for embedding streaming media in your blog: self-hosting from your remote server or utilizing a third-party service. The most popular third-party service is YouTube, but it is for video files only. We discuss the merits and drawbacks of each option below. Why Self-Hosting? Uploading audio and video into your own secure server may be the best option for your organization. If copyright issues or loss of control over your content is a concern, self-hosting will minimize or eliminate these issues. When you self-host your content it can be viewed by the public without the content entering the public domain. In other words, others will not be able to embed your content onto their website. While anyone can create a link to your video or audio—and we like to think that’s a good thing—the viewer is always directed back to your site. For those concerned with carefully managing access to objects in the collection, this option makes the most sense. Another consideration is file size. There are no practical limitation on the amount and length of video that can be stored on (and thus streamed from) your server. Therefore, you can deliver any message of any length to anyone anywhere. Why YouTube? YouTube is a free online video service that allows users to upload video files. As with Flickr or Scribd, your content is hosted on a third-party server and is embedded into your own site. You create a profile when you set up your YouTube account; for each file, you can add tags, title, and description to make it more “findable.” Millions of people use YouTube every day; you may find people stumble upon your content more easily when it is hosted on a third-party site. (This may or may not be important to you.) YouTube features a straightforward design that is probably familiar to many of your users already. As with photographs in Flickr or documents in Scribd, YouTube automatically generates a URL and embed code for each file you upload so you can easily embed or link to the file. You can choose to allow or disallow comments. YouTube also displays how many times a file has been viewed, favorited, etc. Users can subscribe to your YouTube channel and get updates whenever you post a new video. YouTube files are limited to 1 gigabyte per video, or about 10 minutes of airtime. It is, however, a completely free service. YouTube videos are indexed and turn up in searches in Google and other major search engines. The millions of viewers who already know how to search for and view YouTube video is a major point in its favor. Before You Begin: Making Your Video Files Viewable Most likely, you will have to convert your video files into a recognizable format. This is a rather simple but tedious process. There are many low-cost or free video conversion applications available. One that we
have had success with is Video Converter for Mac (www.mp4converter.net). Please note that many suitable applications are available for both Mac and Windows operating systems, and all convert files in essentially the same manner. The following exercise illustrates the conversion process. 1. Load the video file onto your hard drive. The file can come from a DVD, VHS tape or other source, but it must reside in a file on your hard drive. 2. Open your conversion application. For this example, we use Video Converter for Mac. (See Figure 16.) 3. Select the add button. This is where you search through your hard drive to find the location of the video files you want to convert.
Figure 16: Video converter interface
4. Select your file. Highlight the file you want to convert, then click open (Note: In Windows, it might say “insert). This will add your video file to the conversion software. Notice in Figure 17 that the name of the file appears along with its duration, current file top (in this case, vob, which comes from the video camera that was used), and the target file type. Here we have selected to convert the file to an MP4. There is a drop down menu on the upper right hand side that allows you to choose from among any imaginable file type. MP4 is noted for its quality, consistency, and universality. 5. Highlight the file name and select the Encode button. This begins the conversion process. The conversion time depends on the file type of the original file and the target file type, as well as the quality of the desired output. You can determine the quality of the end product from a drop-down menu. Uploading to YouTube Putting your video on YouTube is a simple process. As with Flickr, Scribd, etc., you will need to establish a an account. We recommend you use the same email address you’ve used for other accounts. Make sure to include a short description of your organization with your website’s URL so folks can find you! There are several simple online tutorials that explain how to upload videos to YouTube. We recommend searching YouTube for instructional videos; choose one of the video tutorials created by member of the
40 Figure 17: Selecting file to convert and target file type.
YouTube community. When you have uploaded files to YouTube, you can easily embed them into blog posts or pages using the embed code that is featured next to each video screen. Uploading to Your Remote Server Uploading video files to your remote server entails the same FTP process you are already familiar with. In addition, you will need to create a video folder within the WordPress folder in the following manner: 1. Select the location for your video folder. Double-click the public_html icon that appears on the right-hand screen (this is the remote server side). The screen will change and then you will double click the WordPress icon. You will see a list of the folders and individual files that comprise the WordPress software. 2. Create a video folder. Place the cursor in the remote server window on your FTP screen. Click once (but not on a file folder) so that the server recognizes that you are about to take action, then right click. A dialogue box will appear asking you to create a new directory. (Some FTP applications will ask you to create a folder.) Another box will pop up asking you to name the new directory (or folder). Name your directory something easy to remember, such as “Video.” Hit “enter” to create the new directory. 3. Add video files. The left-hand window shows all of the files on your hard drive. Find the converted MP4 video file you want to upload. Highlight and drag the file to the video directory you have just created. It will take a few minutes to move the file depending on the file size. When finished, your file is now hosted on your remote server. 4. Embed your videos via WordPress plug-in. You can insert streaming video files into your WordPress blog via a plug-in. For detailed instructions of how-to install and use the Flash Video Player, go to the section on Working with WordPress Plug-ins. Making Your Audio Files Available for Listening The process of converting your audio files into a recognizable format and embedding a player within your post or page is essentially that same process that we have described for video. Low or no cost conversion software is readily available and can be found with a simple Google search. Once you have converted your audio file(s) and before you to upload them to your remote server, make sure that you create an audio folder within the WordPress root directory. This is the folder where your audio files will reside and be accessed from. For detailed instructions of how-to install and use the Audio Player, go to the section “Working with PlugIns and Recommendations.”
(A Note on) Wikis Most folks are aware of wikis, if only because nearly every Internet search turns up a page from Wikipedia. Wikipedia, like all wikis, is a collaborative website that allows anyone with access to edit the content of the page(s). Both the content and organization of the website can be added to, deleted, or edited by the community of users. This is called “open source editing.” Wikis invite collaboration and input probably better than any other web tool we will discuss in the Public Humanities Toolbox. They are definitely Toolbox 2.0 in that you turn over control of the content entirely to your users. We have found, however, that setting up a wiki is more complicated than establishing a blog. There are some options that allow you to host your wiki on a third-party server; as with WordPress, these options are more limited than ones you host on your own server space. More complicated wikis require you to set up a wiki on your own server space. We like this Choice Wizard that allows you to select which capabilities are important to you (and the level of technical expertise needed) and recommends which wiki applications are best for you. In this section we will briefly explain some of the opportunities afforded by wikis and point you in the right direction for learning more and setting up your own. What can it do for you? Wikis allow a passionate community to pool and document its knowledge. You could create a wiki about your community or local history. You could set up a few key pages and ask users to contribute what they know about a particular site, event, or person. You could ask users to suggest other pages. You could set up page stubs, which means a short description of the topic is provided and you ask for more input from the community. Alternatively, you could set up a wiki about a particular topic, such as “Mills of Dartmouth County.” The wiki could feature an opening page about mills generally, separate pages for each known mill site, other pages about the companies that ran the mills, still other sites about major events (strikes, closings, etc.) in each mill’s history, etc. The possibilities, when you start thinking about how one idea leads to another, are limitlessly exciting! Wikis may be particularly useful for organizations that are interested in better documenting and collecting more recent history because pages can be edited by those with living memories of the topics in question. Wikis are hyperlinked, so it easy to reference among pages. These hyperlinks can take you to pages that explain terms further. This feature of wikis takes advantage of the internet’s unique characteristics. Perhaps our favorite aspect of wikis is that it is a forum for inviting the community to contribute to your knowledge. Using a wiki automatically communicates that you are open to sharing authority with the public, that you value their input, and that you understand that despite your best efforts, folks in the community will undoubtedly know more than what ever be stored in your collections. This capacity of wikis and other Web 2.0 tools, we hope, build relationships and trust between and institution and its community. We can imagine several different wiki projects for the small cultural heritage organization, such as a local historical society: • A wiki of local history where you set up the basic architecture of pages/topics and solicit the community to contribute what it knows
Asking your most knowledgeable and passionate volunteers to build a wiki, either of local history or a particular topic of interest. A partnership with local students, asking them to do research (in your collections) and write wiki entries.
How do users interact with a wiki? Users interact with wikis in two basic ways. The first is simply reading. As with Wikipedia, users can search for articles and find information they are looking for. Users can also become editors, which means they can add content or edit existing content. Wikipedia allows anyone to register to become a editor. Other wiki projects can limit who has access for editing. As an administrator, you can set the terms for whether anyone can register or if people have to be invited to edit. You can publish your wiki so anyone can read it or only editors can read it. You may also make settings that allow you, as administrator, to approve or disapprove of edits. (This may be a concern if you find glaringly obvious factual errors.)5 Further information There are several different software applications for setting up a wiki. Most are free. At this point, all require some knowledge of how to host the wiki on a server. Some applications do not require administrators or editors to know HTML or other programming languages, while others do. We like: • • TikiWiki: a software package recommended by our colleague Tracy Gierada, who has set up several wikis, including one for the Providence Preservation Society’s Most Endangered Properties list. TikiMatrix: a wiki that allows you compare all the different wiki options out there by features, expertise required, and other factors. We really like the “Choice Wizard” that allows you to choose which options you want or need (or don’t want or don’t need) and suggests which wiki option is best for you.
Repeated factual errors or citations of rumors and legends as fact, though frustrating, may also be an opportunity for an educational campaign. Some institutions, including the Indianapolis Museum of Art, are using tags generated during the Steve.museum pilot project to determine commonly misunderstood or misapplied terms by watching which inaccurate tags are used most often. The IMA is now retraining docents, changing labels and strategizing ways to better educate the public in order to clear up these misconceptions. A wiki may provide the same opportunity to create a program, exhibit or pamphlet of “Fiction/Not Facts about YourTown’s History.”
(A Note on) Facebook and Social Networking Sites Although Facebook started out on college campuses in 2004, now anyone can join. It is a rapidly expanding social networking site. Facebook has quickly become one of the most visited websites in the world, and many users check their Facebook page multiple times a day. Facebook is one of several social networking sites, including MySpace and Linked In (for professionals). It has outlived some of its earlier competitors like Friendster. As an organization, you can create a page that users can access to find out more about you, to learn about upcoming events, to find other fans of your organization, and to post messages letting you know how great (or not, theoretically) you are. What can it do for you? Many organizations seem to believe that they can instantly reach a younger audience if they create a Facebook profile. A few cautionary words, then, may be appropriate. Just because someone is your Facebook fan does not necessarily mean they will visit your site or donate money. It is probably best to think of Facebook as a way to cultivate relationships and announce events. Also, Facebook pages are not static. Unless you intend to maintain your page by checking in at least once a week to accept fan requests, post items, or read through and respond to messages, then joining Facebook is probably not for you. Those caveats aside, however, Facebook is a great way to broadcast events such as exhibit openings and educational programs, particularly programs targeted to young adult audiences. You can post articles related to your organization’s holdings or general interests to develop awareness—and possibly activism— among your Facebook community. Many users may simply appreciate finding their local historical society or arts organization is also part of the “third space” they use everyday. How do users interact with it? Users create profiles for themselves, usually detailing name, hometown, alma mater, likes or dislikes. Each user has his or her own page where they can post pictures, messages, articles they have read and want to share, or membership in a group. Then the real fun begins—users find people they know (and sometimes people they would like to know) by searching for name, alma maters, interest, geographic location, or friends in common. Users “friend” someone they know; usually, that person has to accept or ignore a friend request. Once two users are friends, they can see a running and constantly updated feed on what their friends are up to: when new photos have been added, when relationship status changes, when they have joined or left groups, for instance. Users can set different privacy levels to control who can see what parts of their profile. For instance, someone may only want approved friends to be able to see her photos and message board, but may maintain a basic profile of hometown and employer visible so that former classmates or colleagues can find her. Users can create events and invite friends to them. Event pages show information about who’s planning to attend, as well as place and time. Event message boards can allow prospective attendees to say what they plan to bring or ask questions about the event (ride sharing, for instance, or “what to pack” in the case of an overnight event). Groups can be organized around just about any interest imaginable. Some are quite silly, but many relate
to a cause or desired political or social outcome. Not only does membership in a group broadcast to a user’s friends his or her likes and dislikes, each group also has a page where group members can share messages with each other, announce upcoming events of interest, and generally keep in touch with likeminded individuals. As an organization, you can create a business page, not an individual’s account; users will become your fan rather than your friend. (Even though you are probably a non-profit organization, you are still considered a business in Facebook world.) Fans can receive feeds of events and message board posts, just as they would with a friend, from your organization’s Facebook page. How do you do it? To create an official page for your organization, you must be a recognized representative of the organization. An incredibly thorough description of setting up a Facebook account for your non-profit organization can be found here: http://www.knowledgeharbor.com/facebook-for-small-organizations-and-associations.
(A Note on) Podcasts A podcast is a digital media file (usually audio) that can be syndicated, or downloaded automatically, from an RSS feed. Podcasts can be downloaded and listened to on a computer, but they are really intended to be portable. Most folks download podcasts to their portable MP3 player (like the ubiquitous iPod, though any MP3 player works) and listen to them on the go. This is part of what makes them so great; people can listen to a podcast at their own convenience. They can also listen to a podcast as they explore the places described in a podcast. Whereas every podcast is a digital media file, not all digital media files are podcasts. Unless your digital media file is syndicated (which means you add new ones periodically and folks can subscribe to the feed and receive them), it is just a regular old digital media file. To make syndicated files easily downloadable for people’s iPods, you need to set up an RSS feed and make sure they show up in iTunes where folks can easily search for them. At this point the easiest way to share a digital media file so that people can put it on their iPod or other MP3 player is to set up an RSS feed that sends the files (as podcasts) to iTunes. Even if you intend to create only a few audio pieces—thematic tours of the community, for instance—we still recommend syndicating them so they will be searchable in iTunes. Though your RSS feed will not have new audio files to send every two weeks (and thus will not technically be a podcast), this is still the best option for making your tours available to the widest public possible. To make a podcast, you will need some combination of the following: an RSS feed (can be incorporated into your WordPress account), recording equipment, and audio editing software (such as Garage Band, which comes standard on Macs). None of these are particularly expensive, but they may involve an initial outlay of between $200--$1000∗, depending on what you have access to already and the quality of the equipment you buy. An excellent overview of the technical questions—how to set up a podcast, what equipment is necessary, etc.—is available from podcaster extraordinaire Adam Weiss at his website www.podcastconsultant.net. If you are located in New England, we also recommend Adam as a consultant as he started the Boston Museum of Science’s award winning “Current Science & Technology” podcast and produces several under his own name. He can be contacted through his website or directly via email at email@example.com. So rather than reinvent the wheel (or risk plagiarizing Adam’s excellent advice) below we simply explain some of the most basic questions about what a podcast is and its potential uses for your organization. What can it do for you? Whereas a broadcast is live, a podcast is pre-recorded. A podcast can be made from a live broadcast; most NPR programs, for instance, can later be downloaded as podcasts. If you have audio recordings of performances or lectures hosted by your organization, you may consider releasing them via podcast. However, keep in mind that concentration factor! A live hour-long talk may not have the same appeal as a
Adam Weiss, of www.podcastconsultant.net, recommends a start-up suite of equipment that costs approximately $1,080, including the computer for storing the files and editing the audio.
pre-recorded audio-only lecture in podcast form. However, you might consider editing a longer lecture or setting aside time with a featured speaker to ask two or three questions that you can edit into a 10-minute podcast. You can create podcasts about topics related to your organization’s collections, programs, or expertise. Perhaps you want to highlight the story of a seldom-seen object or little known facet of your community’s history. You can share an engaging short story about how something came into your collection, what an object’s historic uses were, an unknown local luminary, or some other tidbit via podcasts. If you are a local history organization, you might consider making podcasts of audio tours of your community that people can listen to as they walk or drive around. You might discuss a theme (such as “Schoolhouses” or “Women’s History”) and provide a map that people can pick up at your site or download from the web. You might focus on the story of one building. If you are an arts organization, you could feature behind-the-scenes discussion with performers, composers, or directors. Think of podcasting as a tool for making your organization more transparent by hosting behind-the-scenes discussion on the process of developing an exhibit or program. How, exactly, does local history get made? What decisions do the curators make when selecting a topic or objects for display? What sources do they consult? What do they not include, and why? You can discuss these details in short interview-style podcasts. Sharing this discussion with your public not only promotes your organization, it also invites the public to more critically engage with what you do and why. Or consider podcasting as an educational program. Invite young people to script and produce podcasts about any of the topics described above or about youth perspectives on local issues. This could be an engaging summer program or an ongoing partnership with local schools. Young people may be quick to learn about and become experts on the technology involved – the skills involved will be useful to them, in any case. Most podcasts are not much longer than 20 minutes. Folks may have difficulty maintaining their concentration for an extended “audio lecture.” We recommend you keep your podcasts at 6—15 minutes each. Keep in mind that for every minute of the finished program, there is preparation and postproduction time. An experienced podcaster himself, Adam says that a 10-minute interview-style podcast takes about 2—4 hours of time to produce. How do users interact with it? Users download podcasts to their computers or portable MP3 players, easily through the iTunes store, even though most podcasts (and probably yours) are free. For the listeners, there’s not a lot to it. You can direct users to your podcasts from your main webpage. If you have created tours of your site or the local community, you may want to include information about available podcasts on your organization’s “Hours and Admissions” page so that folks who are planning a trip can learn about these downloads before they come. You can also post notices of new podcasts as they are uploaded on the blog section of your website. Users may choose to download audio tours of your site or community before coming as a way to enhance their visit. They may listen to informational podcasts, such as interviews with the curator or excerpts of oral histories, before visiting to get an idea of what to expect. They may want to learn more about the topic of an exhibit or program after their visit and download podcasts then. Users can browse your selection of podcasts and pick from among them or subscribe to your podcast, in which case their computer will automatically download new podcasts as they are added.
Other features of note Setting up an account on iTunes for posting your podcasts is free. The advantage of using iTunes is that your podcast enters the great pool of podcasts and listeners; with a good description and a catchy name, folks may stumble across your podcast. The flipside, though, is that your podcast may get lost among the many thousands out there. For that reason, it is important to also direct people to your podcasts directly from your website. On the homepage of iTunes, under podcasts, there is a purple and white link that says “Submit a Podcast.” There you will find detailed instructions for setting up an account and submitting your podcasts.
Figure 18: iTunes podcast interface, with "Submit a Podcast" in the center of the bottom row.
Because of copyright, you have to be very careful about what music you use in your podcasts. Unless you are featuring something from your collection (which hopefully you have some rights to use or can contact the owner and get permission to use), we recommend visiting http://www.podsafeaudio.com/ to find thousands of songs and other audio files that you can download and incorporate into your podcasts.
About this Project Two graduate students enrolled in the masters of public humanities program at Brown University, Al Lees and Leah Nahmias, created the Public Humanities Toolbox. We started this project during a course called “Digital Humanities Scholarship” taught in the spring of 2008 by two Brown staff members, Susan Smulyan, Profesor, Department of American Civilizaton and Patrick Yott, Librarian, Brown University Libraries. We developed our demonstration project, Uncovering Westport, with the support and cooperation of the Westport Historical Society in Westport, Massachusetts. This project has evolved from a relatively simple project of encoding, mapping, and digitally publishing a 2004 archaeological survey of Westport, Massachusetts into the development of a model for small cultural heritage organizations to create an engaging web presence. This change occurred as we encountered the very real needs of the small museum field and read about the theories of community participation in cultural heritage products enabled by new media. First, to speak of the need. On a very practical level, we recognize that while there are many small historical and preservations societies, local history museums, and the like, there is a limited pool of financial and human resources to sustain them. Many boards and directors face a constant struggle to keep the doors open and the lights on. With good intentions but often limited capacity, organizations let their collections lay unexplored in attics, closets, and storage boxes. They may only be open to the public a few days a week for a few hours at a time. With physical needs dominating, it is hardly surprising that few small cultural heritage organizations have developed a web presence, let alone one that engages visitors. They often lack the time, money, and expertise needed to imagine and build a website that shares information and solicits memories, feedback, and artifacts. Unfortunately, this is happening just as new media is creating expectations that institutions will invite such participation and the American Association of Museums has established community engagement as its core value for the 21st century. While local history organizations face increasing pressures, the public history community has come better to recognize that most Americans understand history as a local and localized process. What new media applications, we wondered, could help small historical societies build and engage an audience to appreciate and contribute to its local history collection? As we explored this problem, we saw the potential that free and open source software and applications, many of them of a Web 2.0-style nature, could be bundled as a package. Such a product would be easy to add and edit content for staff or volunteers. It would cheap or free! Though we recommend and demonstrate a few standard features, we recognize that such a package would also be easy to customize. It would allow institutions to become a resource and a community center not tied to a particular physical location. We are not recommending closing the actual doors, however; rather we are encouraging small organizations to take advantage of the web’s unique capacity of being unrestricted by geography. We think these tools will root organizations more strongly in their local communities while helping them extend their presences without spending more funds. On the web, the cost of making an engaging web presence for the local community is the same as making one for a global community. Beyond practical needs, we have attempted to raise the theoretical considerations of what it means to engage the public, to “do” public history, and to use new media for both. On the most basic level, digitizing a collection and putting it online instantly makes it more accessible. We also recognized the potential of new technologies, such as blogs and social tagging, to allow users in the community to add and enrich our content. We heartily embrace the idea of collapsing boundaries between “professional” and “amateur.” Perhaps it’s not even a matter of embracing this change; rather, we recognize that this is happening. Collapsing categories, while an opportunity for encouraging community history, may make
trained archivists, librarians, and historians cringe. We do not suggest that they will be out of a job anytime soon, either. But we do think that better use of new media by small cultural heritage organizations can be a rich partnership for soliciting context and information and gathering artifacts from the community. Further, we envision new media as a way to serve communities by meeting them where they are, by becoming a forum for discussion, reminiscence, and personal meaning-making. This framework eventually became The Public Humanities Toolbox. For the purpose of the class, we created a demonstration website, Uncovering Westport. That website, while still up and running, definitely has some rough edges! However, we deeply believe in transparency of our methods and learning from others’ trials, so we encourage folks to take a look. As a part of Uncovering Westport, we developed demonstration projects in Flickr, Google Maps, and Scribd. These efforts can all be explored by linking from Uncovering Westport or by following the links here. As we have mentioned elsewhere in this handbook, we have created two other websites using the basic methods of the Toolbox. For the purposes of sharing our work, we created The Public Humanities Toolbox site. To support our colleagues in the public humanities program with their exhibition and programming series, Art+History, we created a site of the same name. Both of these sites allowed us to continue developing the practical skills of using the Toolbox method and investigating the intellectual questions that underlie it. Our Model We identified two core goals for our model of an engaging website for small cultural heritage organizations: • • Expansion of the organization’s core mission through increased civic engagement Creating new opportunities for virtual collecting
Several factors prevent such organizations from building this type of web presence. Most small cultural organizations are short-staffed, operated by an executive director, several part-time staff and dedicated volunteers. They are also almost always critically underfunded; with little or no endowment they struggle to support operating costs. Further, the in-house technical skills necessary to create and maintain a compelling web site may be minimal, if not non-existent. Thus, if one chooses to offer the public a web presence at all, development and maintenance is typically outsourced, making adding and editing content expensive and difficult. Such is the case with the Westport Historical Society. Recognizing the opportunity to create a new digital model, the project’s team developed its own version of a “mash up.” We selected several free and open source applications and bundled them into a single framework. Our goal was to create a tool that small cultural heritage organizations can use to build their own websites. Framework Selection of a structural framework is never a simple process. We developed Uncovering Westport knowing that not all features would be equally desirable to different users. We were also aware that our tools should be easy for the novice to build and for the end-user to navigate. With that in mind, we looked for applications that featured: • Ease of use, requiring little or no knowledge of HTML coding
• • • • •
Flexible design to encourage individualization Capacity to integrate multi-media such as documentary text, images, audio, and video Capacity for social interaction Ability to incorporate metadata, tagging, geo-tagging, and text encoding, to allow cross-platform searching Potential longevity
Though ambitious goals, we are encouraged by the many available applications that meet these criteria. Our next task was selecting what applications to use and recommend. Creation of a web presence has been greatly facilitated with the advent of the “blog.” As defined by Wikipedia, “A blog (an abridgment of the term web log) is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video.” No longer the domain of an individual user, blogs have provided countless individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations with platforms to communicate freely and easily with their target audiences. We chose WordPress due to its ease of use, longevity, dominant position within the industry, and the plethora of developers focused on creating new features for the end user. With WordPress as the structural framework, we selected the various other tools described in this Handbook. These current applications should be thought of as dynamic and not static. As users envision new opportunities to enhance their audience’s web experience, appropriate widgets can be incorporated into the framework of the web site. There is one further advantage to applications like Flickr, Google Maps, and Scribd. Because users of those sites can search and find images and documents an organization has uploaded, or maps it has created, new users can find an organization’s collections all the time. They do not have to be directed to a specific URL. In other words, they do not have to know the Westport Historical Society exists in order to access its collections. The potential audience for a society’s collections grows exponentially by using applications that already have a large following. Key to such use, of course, was including links to Uncovering Westport’s main page in the descriptions of photos, maps, and documents uploaded in their photostream. It should be clear that third party applications abound, creating unlimited opportunities for experimentation and individuality. The structural framework of the Public Humanities Toolbox is stable and solid, with adequate functionality for one to produce a compelling, attractive web presence. However, it is only a platform for further experimentation. As new needs are discovered, new applications can be bundled into the original framework. At least in this design context function does follow form. We do recognize that the constantly changing new media world can be overwhelming, especially for newcomers. Staying flexible is not always easy, but it is necessary. Our Prototype Uncovering Westport is an example of how a small cultural organization might use open source web tools to engage audiences online. Though organization specific, this prototype highlights many of the features available to achieve the goals of increased community engagement, new artifact collection, and increased funding opportunities. Early on, we focused on building a structure. After exhaustive deliberations and revisions, we identified and focused our attention on the overarching issues of • Accessibility for all potential users
• • • • •
Appropriateness for a broad range of age and experience Interactibility Virtual community building through various Web 2.0 applications Housing a virtual collection of “objects” Understanding local history through collective memory.
About Us Al Lees holds an MBA from the University of Rhode Island. His experience in the non-profit sector includes his tenure as Chair of the Board of Trustees-Old Dartmouth Historical Society, as well as a current board member of the Westport Land Conservation Trust and the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts. His interests include local history and digital humanities research and tools. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Leah Nahmias graduated from Indiana University in 2004 with a B.A. in History, a certificate in Jewish Studies, and a minor in East Asian Languages and Cultures. With all of these incredibly practical degrees in hand and a spirit of idealism in her heart, she joined Teach For America and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. For three years she taught different versions of U.S. history—standard, ESL, inclusion, AP, IB History of the Americas—and AVID at West Charlotte High School. These various experiences, professional and personal, got her thinking about how individuals and communities think about the past, where they encounter “history,” and the challenges of making these processes accessible and meaningful. Leah moved to Providence, Rhode Island in 2007 to enroll in Brown University’s masters of public humanities program. While her interests have often shot off in all directions, the core of her academic study has been how to craft enriching educational programs and experiences that deliver humanities, especially history, scholarship and make it relevant for diverse audiences. (email@example.com) Acknowledgements We are incredibly grateful to several people who have helped us develop our ideas, given us fresh insights, and provided invaluable feedback on early drafts of this project. There are simply no expressions kind enough or appreciative enough for Susan Smulyan and Patrick Yott. We are really appreciate of the afternoon that the thoughtful, enthusiastic and cool folks at George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media. Thanks also to Steve Lubar, Tracy Gierada, Marjory O’Toole of the Little Compton (Rhode Island) Historical Society, Adam Sparks of the St. George (Kansas) Historical Society, and Lee Wright of Historic Marlborough (Massachusetts). Thanks to Jenny O’Neill of the Westport Historical Society for letting us play around with photographs in the collection and no doubt overwhelm her in the early very chaotic stages of the project. For directing us towards cool applications and websites we didn’t already know about, thanks to Meg Rotzel and Amy Johnson. Thank you also to the National Council for Public History and Mass Humanities for inviting us to present our ideas to your membership. No doubt we forgot others, so we thank them too!
Appendix I: WordPress Grunt Work The Basics It may be unnecessary to state the obvious; however, before you can realize your digital goals, your organization needs to have in place an Internet connection, a host server and a domain name. Without these three components, you will be unable to proceed. Domain Name A domain is your address, the place your site resides within the virtual community. In the “old days,” accessing an individual site required knowing its particular IP address and typing in a series of letters and numbers that few ever remembered. Fortunately, things are a lot easier today. Renting your space within the Internet community is as simple as going to a search engine to locate a registration service, follow a few simple steps, and voila! your organization has an official virtual address. As with most Internet based providers, there is no shortage of services for you to use. Try either Register.com, GoDaddy.com, or Network Solutions.com These or others will help you set up a unique domain name in a matter of minutes. Host Server A server is the computer that stores your WordPress application as well as all of the documents, audio, video, podcasts, wikis and whatever else may be associated with your organization’s web site, but it is so much more than that. Through a continuous virtual web, your host computer delivers information to and receives information from every computer linked within the World Wide Web, essentially pushing and pulling information and knowledge across the digital universe. Without a host, there is no connectivity and no communication between you and the virtual world. Two types of hosting options are available, self-hosting (where an organization maintains its own server) or virtual hosting (where a third party provides hosting capabilities.) Only the largest institutions, having the in-house expertise and financial resources to maintain a host server, should attempt to do so. If you do wish to maintain your own server, you should contact a qualified expert in your area. It is beyond the scope of this manual to illustrate how to set up a self-hosted server. Most organizations will opt, and for good reason, to have their site hosted by a third party provider. There are literally thousands of services worldwide in the business of maintaining servers for this express purpose. Cost is certainly one consideration, but you should also consider reliability, embedded applications that will allow your software to operate optimally, upload/download speeds, and security. You should review the WordPress hosting requirements before selecting a compatible hosting service. Creating a Database on Your Host Server You must create a database on your host server to capture and store files from your WordPress application. This is a relatively simple process requiring only a few additional steps. MySQL is the database application used by WordPress and supported by most third party providers. The following is an example of the steps involved: Step 1: Locate MySQL Database Icon and click to open. Name your database and click Create Database (See Figure 19).
Figure 19: Creating a MySQL database
Step 2: You must create a username and a password. Multiple users can be created as the need arises; therefore, it is unnecessary to anticipate every possible user during the initial setup. As you can see in Figure 20, you will be able to assign database privileges by individual user.
Figure 20: Manage database; assign database privileges
Step 3: Once you have created your database and a user name with assigned privileges, the last step is to attach the user name to a particular database (See Figure 21).
Figure 21: Attach username to database
Installing WordPress on Your Host Server Installing the WordPress application is a relatively straightforward process. Please keep in mind: a little bit of patience upfront will pay huge dividends going forward. After all, your goal is to create a compelling web site, not to spend unnecessary time setting up your WordPress application. Step 1: Copying WordPress to Your Server Double click the Icon for your FTP application (we use FileZilla in this example.) See Figure 22.
Figure 22: Open FTP
Notice the screen on your computer. The upper toolbar is how you will connect to your host server. The blank space below that shows you the commands from your computer to the host once you begin the connection process. The two middle boxes show all of the folders and files on your computer (Local site) and will eventually show your folders and files on your host computer (Remote site) while the lower blank box is for more advanced processes not needed for our purposes. The upper toolbar is where you type the name of your website (www.yourname.org) in the Host space, and
the username and password that you selected when you signed up with your host provider. Leave the Port space blank and either click on QuickConnect or press the Return (or Enter) key. You should see a screen similar to that shown in Figure 23:
Figure 23: QuickConnect
You are now connected to your host server and ready to begin installing WordPress. • • • First, double click the public_html folder on the remote server to open up this folder. This is where you will copy the WordPress folder. Locate the WordPress application on your computer (Local site) by scrolling to the appropriate folder and then finding the WordPress folder within it. Drag and drop the WordPress folder from the Local site to the Remote site. The file transfer will take some time to complete. On the next screen (Figure 24) you should see a WordPress folder in the public_html folder in your Remote site. Place the mouse curser over the WordPress folder, hold the mouse key down (left key if you are using Windows) and drag the WordPress folder from the Local site to the remote site.
Figure 24: WordPress hosted on the remote server
If your FTP screen shows a WordPress folder on your remote site within the public_html folder (something like above) you are ready for Step 2. Step 2: Changing the WordPress Configuration Take a deep breath before proceeding. The next step isn’t necessarily difficult but it will feel very unfamiliar. Fear not, this is the final step before you begin creating your own web site with WordPress. • Transfer the wp-config-sample.php file. This file, when modified, will link your WordPress site to the MySQL database you created previously. Drop and drag the wp-config-sample.php from the WordPress folder in the remote site to the local site. Once this file is on your computer (the local site) open it up in a text editor application, either Notebook (on Windows) or TextEdit (on Macs). Do not open the file in Microsoft Word, as it will do some funky things to the code! You should see the following: <?php// ** MySQL settings ** // define('DB_NAME', 'XXXXXXX'); // The name of the database define('DB_USER', 'XXXXXXXX); // Your MySQL username define('DB_PASSWORD', 'XXXXXX'); // ...and password define('DB_HOST', 'localhost'); // 99% chance you won't need to change this value define('DB_CHARSET', 'utf8'); define('DB_COLLATE', '');
Don’t be afraid! What you need to do is replace the XXXXX’s with the database name, user name and password you chose when you signed onto your host provider. For example, ours looks like this (the boldface text is our highlights): <?php // ** MySQL settings ** // define('DB_NAME', 'uncoveri_wordpresswestport'); // The name of the database define('DB_USER', 'uncoveri_aelees'); // Your MySQL username define('DB_PASSWORD', 'a2140lees'); // ...and password define('DB_HOST', 'localhost'); // 99% chance you won't need to change this value define('DB_CHARSET', 'utf8'); define('DB_COLLATE', ''); Now, save your file in the text editor by naming it wp-config.php. Do not name it wp-configsample.php! There are two reasons not to do this: 1) you should have a copy of the sample in case you need to redo it and 2) this file name will not work in WordPress. Go back to your Filezilla FTP application, make sure that you are in the WordPress folder and scroll down to make sure that you see a file named wp-config-sample.php. This will let you know you are in the correct directory. Now, it is a simple case of finding the wp-config.php file that you created on your computer. Drag this file from the remote to the local site. The file will copy itself into the WordPress folder and that’s it! Now you ready to begin.
Appendix II: Working with Plug-Ins and Recommendations What can it do for you? Plug-ins are little bits of code that allow you to “plug in” a feature to your blog. For instance, there are several Flickr plug-ins that allow you to embed photographs from a Flickr account into a blog post or page. There are plug-ins for nearly every conceivable function you might want your blog to have: calendars, audio players, spam filters, etc. It is beyond the scope of this manual to illustrate more than a handful of applications that we find useful; however we encourage you to investigate the vast array available. We have explained the basic “how-to” of downloading and embedding plug-ins and made note of a few that we especially like. Plug-ins can only be used in “Bigger and Better Wordpress.” In “Fast and Easy WordPress” administrators can choose from a few universal plug-ins already hosted on WordPress’s server. An excellent place for you to begin your own investigation is the WordPress Plug-In Directory located at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/. Remember, WordPress is a framework for creative expression, and plug-ins are one of your best tools. How do users interact with it? Visitors to your website will see a seamless finished product in which the plug-ins look like regular features on your website. So if they want to hear audio, they just press play. If they want to check upcoming events on the calendar, they click on it. How do you do it? Because plug-ins are created by a diverse community of WordPress users, each one will have its own unique characteristics when you use them on your blog. However, uploading and installing them usually follows the same basic procedure. As you explore the world of plug-ins, you will find that developers have done an excellent job documenting the use of their applications. We leave the specifics to the developers; what follows is an illustration of how to install and activate plug-ins on your blog. 1. Download the plug-ins. Once you have identified a plug-in(s) that you want to use, follow the developer’s instructions for downloading. Typically you will click the download icon on the developer’s site and unzip the file from its compressed mode. (You may need to download unzipping software; we recommend WinZip or Stuffit.) If you are asked to specify a location for the downloaded file, make sure to pick somewhere easy to retrieve it from. We recommend downloading to your desktop. Later you can transfer it to your remote serve and delete it from the desktop. 2. Create a plug-in folder on your remote server by following these steps: • • • • Open your FTP application (we use Filezilla for our examples). Connect to your remote server. Locate the file you want to transfer in the left hand window. Locate and open the directory wp-content. You will find this by double clicking the WordPress
• • 3.
folder and then double clicking the wp-content folder. This is where your plug-ins will be located. Before transferring, you will need to create a plug-in directory. As a review, you right click once in the exposed right hand window (wp-content directory should be open due to the previous step.) You will see a pop-up box with the words “Create Directory.” Click on that and at the end of what appears add the name plugin. It should look like this /public_html/wordpress/wp-content/plugin. Click OK and what should appear in the wp-content directory is a folder entitled plugin.
Transfer your plug-in to the remote server. • • Double click the plug-in folder located on the right hand screen to open it up. It should be empty of files at this point. From the left hand screen, locate the file to transfer. Drag the file from the left screen to the right.
4. Activate your plug-in. Go to your blog’s dashboard. Select Plugins from the menu bar. This will bring you to a screen that lists all of the plug-ins you have installed and allows you to activate or de-active them (See Figure 25).
Figure 25: Activate or deactivate plug-ins
You can see from this illustration that three plug-ins are active. The deactivate action toggles between activate and deactivate. If this is a first time installation, you will be asked to click on the activate action. This will automatically make the plug-in live and ready to use. Plug-ins We Have Known and Loved Akismet • Spam is a notorious problem with all blogs or websites, and WordPress is no exception. Akismet is a powerful spam filter designed to seamlessly integrate with your blog and “work in the
background” to catch spam before it appears on your active site. The Akismet creators offer this application free for personal use (this should include non-profit organizations). To obtain your free download, go to http://akismet.com/download/. Audio Player for WordPress • Embedding sound files in your blog allows you to share oral histories, lectures and discussions, even recorded minutes of committee meetings with the public. There are many plug-ins available and we urge you to review the options available to you before committing to one type of player over another. For this exercise, we have chosen a simple but customizable audio player developed by Martin Laine called Audio Player WordPress plug-in. A detailed explanation of the steps to upload and access your audio files can be found in the section entitled “How do I …. upload media files?” Exclude Pages from Navigation • You may want to write a page or a series of pages that do not appear in your site’s navigation bar but that are linked to from the pages in the navigation bar. WordPress does not have the built in tools to allow you to this. If a page is a “parent” or primary page, it will show up, whether or not you want it to, unless you install the Exclude Pages from Navigation Plug-In. Downloading and installing this plug-in is identical to all other plug-ins. Once activated, a Figure 26: Exclude pages from navigation navigation check box will appear in the right hand column of every Write Post or Page (see Figure 26). The default is a check mark indicating that the page is included in the navigation menu. To exclude it, uncheck the box and save the document. Your document will be saved and accessible but will not clutter the navigation bar of your blog. Flickr Manager • Tom Gardner created this plug-in for WordPress users who have a Flickr account and want to integrate it into their blog. Information about downloading and installing this application is located at http://tgardner.net/wordpress-flickr-manager/. Without this application, embedding pictures into your blog is a multi-step, tedious process of opening your Flickr account, searching for the picture that you want, copying its url, and pasting the code into your WordPress post or page. While this may suit your needs sometime (in order to illustrate a post, for example), at other times you may want to show many images at once. Flickr Manager allows you to easily browse your Flickr images and drag and drop the one you want to use into the post or page you are editing. FlickrPictoBrowser • PictoBrowser allows you to effortlessly create slide presentations of your Flickr images. Check out these sites to download the FlickrPictoBrowser and to see it in use: Kumara Sastry – Developer of the PictoBrowser Plug-In for WordPress. Diego Bauducco – PictoBrowser Developer Westport Historical Society – Photographic Exhibition of the 1938 Hurricane
Folding Pages Widget • Depending on what theme you have chosen for the your website, all of the pages you have created for your blog will appear listed out. (Usually this list appears in a right-hand column.) As you create more pages, the list grows; eventually this makes an impossibly long blog page. To eliminate this annoyance, we recommend the Folding Pages Widget. Instructions for downloading and installing this plug-in can be found at http://navyroad.com/2007/09/04/folding-pages-widget/. Raw HTML • WordPress uses a very specific programming language. It is often forgiving, but sometimes it can be a control freak and do funny things to your text or images. To maintain the integrity of the code place in your blog, Janis Elsts has developed a plug-in called Raw HTML, a firewall of sorts that stops WordPress in its tracks. Once you have installed and activated the Plug-In, using it is a simple matter of prefacing and ending the code with the following: [RAW] your code inside [/RAW] These tags will maintain the structure of the code, regardless of how WordPress might want alter it. Instructions for downloading and installation of this plug-in can be found at http://wshadow.com/blog/2007/12/13/raw-html-in-wordpress/.
Appendix III: Examples of Tools being used by Public Humanities Institutions We’ve gathered some examples of public humanities organizations—museums, historical societies, university-based researchers, non-profit arts institutions—using some of the tools we describe in the handbook. We’ve tried to include a range of examples from “you can do it” to “not for the faint of heart.” We hope they inspire you to think about what’s possible and how you can adapt these ideas for your own mission. These and other examples can be found at our website: http://publichumanitiestoolbox.wordpress.com/examples/ WordPress Project URL Institution Purpose of Usage Notes The St. George, Kansas Historical Society website http://stgeorgehistory.org/ The St. George Historical Society (Kansas) • To build a low-cost, engaging website How serendipitous to find a small historical society using some of the tools we have described in the Public Humanities Toolbox! SGHS combines WordPress and Flickr to share historic images, announce events, and communicate the bylaws, hours, and other FAQs of the organization. SGHS is small—8 people, basically—and all volunteer. This format allows non-experts to easily change content and not to have to worry about software updates. Webmaster Adam Sparks notes that members have enthusiastically embraced Web 2.0 as a way to keep the organization going through tough economic times and to keep in touch with past residents of St. George. Flickr Project URL Institution Purpose of Usage The American Image: The Photographs of John Collier, Jr. http://americanimage.unm.edu/index.html http://www.flickr.com/photos/johncollierjr/ Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico • To house the museum’s collection of historic photographs taken by John Collier, Jr., making them accessible to a wider public • To “pull” photographs into a series of educational and “directed looking” activities hosted at the project’s main website This impressive project was partially funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The project uses Flickr both to house its own collection of historic photographs and thus make them available to a wider audience, but also to use the tags created by Flickr users to generate images for educational activities. While the second aspect of the project may be beyond the expertise or budget of the small cultural heritage organization, The American Image is a good model for starting with a relatively easy task (uploading images to Flickr) that can later be expanded upon.
Project URL Institution Purpose of Usage Notes
New Bedford Whaling Museum photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/nbwm/ The New Bedford Whaling Museum • To share collections, exhibits, and events with a wider public NBWM’s Flickr account reflects traditional museum categories. There are collections for “Objects,” “Photographs,” “Library Collections,” “Conservation Projects,” “Exhibits,” “Partnerships” and “Events.” Collections are composed of sets that correspond to a specific photographic collection, exhibit, or event. “Objects,” for instance, is divided into Paintings, Scrimshaw, Needlework, etc. The Photographs collection features sets organized around content (e.g. Wharves), type (e.g., Silver Gelatin Print) and collector (Dr. Henry D. Prescott). Each image, including snapshots from museum events, has an accession number. Full metadata is listed with each image. Indianapolis Museum of Art photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/imaitsmyart/ The Indianapolis Museum of Art • The IMA’s Flickr collection mostly shares pictures of events around the institution. The IMA Flickr page shares behind-the-scenes pictures of installation and trips to visit working artists. Captions explain museum work to the public, showing how curators and other staff make decisions that affect the visitor’s experience. Other photo sets profile a particular department and introduce the work each person contributes towards the museum’s overall operations. These pictures contribute to other efforts, like IMA Dashboard6, the museum has made to be more transparent about how it operates.
Project URL Institution Purpose of Usage Notes
Others: Walker Art Center, MoMA, St. George Historical Society Google Maps Project URL Institution Purpose of Usage A Collaborative Map of Modernism in Australia http://www.cityofsound.com/blog/2008/09/a-collaborative.html Powerhouse Museum* • *This map was created by an enthusiast in response to his visit to a museum exhibition about Modernist architecture in Australia. It shows the sites of Modernist structures around the country.
Although this map was not created by an institution, it is an excellent example of the type of map that a cultural heritage organization could create. We further like that it is collaborative, employing the expertise of many people. It is also a good example of how to extend the theme of an exhibit onto the web; it does not recreate the content of an exhibit; rather, it takes the themes of an in-house exhibit and uses the unique features of the internet and Google Maps to create a powerful extension experience.
Project URL Institution Purpose of Usage Notes
Mapping Memories of Fox Point http://dev.stg.brown.edu/projects/digital_scholarship/fox_point/mainpage.html Fox Point Oral History Project (John Nicholas Brown Center at Brown University) Each map shows the places mentioned by subjects during their oral history interviews A similar initiative might be proposed as an intern or student project to mine an institution’s collection of oral histories. Bronx Rhymes map http://transition.turbulence.org/Works/bronx_rhymes/map.html Bronx Rhymes (New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc.) • A map of the South Bronx showing important places in the early history of hiphop music. Significant sites are tagged on the map with rhymes created by the hip-hop pioneer in question. Documenting an under-studied (and under-mapped) history using text born of the phenomenon itself…Fantastic! Scribd •
Project URL Institution Purpose of Usage
Project URL Institution Purpose of Usage Notes
n/a http://www.whitney.org/www/calder/brochure.jsp and http://www.scribd.com/people/view/3045592-whitneymuseum The Whitney Museum of American Art • Brochures and catalogue excerpts pertaining to recent programs and exhibits have been uploaded. The museum has also embedded YouTube and other Web 2.0 applications into the website for its current Alexander Calder exhibit. YouTube
Project URL Institution
JFK Library Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/JFKLF The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Purpose of Usage
The Library shares video of famous Kennedy speeches and events (“Ask not what your country can do for you…” as well as events at the institution, including conversations with Barack Obama and John McCain. One can also find short documentaries of edited footage about topics like campaigning, Jackie, the 1960 Democratic National Convention, etc.
This is an excellent example of using YouTube to share both content and events. It is also an example of a large archive sharing some of its most popular or in-demand content. One also gets the feeling that someone has selected speeches or footage that is relevant to issues today, as with the campaign videos uploaded during the 2008 election cycle and the videos pertaining to war. The Library has enabled discussion features, and on some videos the posts range from thoughtful reflections on US foreign policy to conspiracy theories!
Project URL Institution Purpose of Usage
Notes Project URL Institution Purpose of Usage Notes
The Black List Project http://www.youtube.com/user/bkmuseumblacklist The Brooklyn Museum • Visitors in the gallery (at specially designated kiosks) shared their experiences related to race and the impact it has had on their lives and accomplishments. These videos were then uploaded to YouTube via a specially designated channel separate from the museum’s main channel. Powerful testimonies from visitors, generated in the museum but shared with a wide audience. Education Projects http://www.youtube.com/user/MMIEducation The Museum of the Moving Image • Young people enrolled in the museum’s educational programs created these videos! Good example of how Web 2.0 applications can be used by one specific department or for a particular project. Wikis
Project URL Institution Purpose of Usage Notes
Hoosier Round Barns http://hoosierroundbarns.wikispaces.com/ Graduate student research group at Indiana University • Documents a peculiar vernacular architecture style. This example demonstrates how a wiki can be used to document one small topic extremely thoroughly, and how a small but passionate community can communicate its knowledge to the wider world.
Appendix IV: Other Cool Tools Here are some quick descriptions of other new media tools you might find useful and interesting as you consider ways to make your organization more accessible. Twitter Whatever Twitter is, everyone suddenly seems to be doing it. Twitter is basically a forum for people to post updates on what they’re doing, what they’ve recently read or talked about, or what they’re thinking. Messages are limited to 140 characters—it’s short and sweet! Younger folks will make the easy comparison to Facebook’s status updates or Instant Messaging’s away message. Both people and institutions have Twitter feeds. You can read others’ Twitter feeds without having an account yourself. If you create an account, your home page will display a running list of your contacts’ most recent updates. You can “reply” to folks by typing “@nameofcontact” to respond to their updates. You can also choose just to read others’ Twitter feeds without posting yourself. Some people’s tweets are pure navel-gazing: here’s what I just ate, here’s where I’m getting ready to drive. However, we’ve seen lots of examples of public humanities institutions using Twitter. Sometimes it’s a matter of staff members sharing their daily schedules or new developments in their field. The former, especially, creates a great sense of transparency. We especially love the Smithsonian’s Twitter feed, which gives quick snapshots to unusual items in the collection, updates on that day’s events (like concerts, symposiums, exhibit openings, etc.), and even a funny interactive game where SI posts a picture and asks followers to try to figure out where in the institution it was taken. Twitter may seem a little overwhelming, but we especially like three possibilities it offers for small cultural heritage organizations. First, as with all new media projects, it communicates to your community, especially younger folks, that you are meeting them where they are. Two, it’s an easy way to instantly let your community know about events or highlight objects from your collection. Finally, you can follow high-level museum, new media, or other public humanities professionals (or innovators from smaller institutions) to see what they’re doing; this seems an easy way to keep abreast of developments in the field. When they read something, attend a conference, see an original exhibit or website, they will probably tweet it. Now you’ll know it too. If and when you start a Twitter feed, have clear goals for what you hope it will help you achieve. Again, the free cat warning: new media is easy to get, but then you have to take care of it! Of course, when you start your Twitter feed, be sure to blog about it on your website. Lulu Books Lulu is a service that allows you to self-publish books in a variety of formats. The big social vision of Lulu is to help authors circumvent the commercial publishing world. Authors who have self-published through Lulu have their works uploaded into the Lulu catalogue and anyone can order a copy. The purchaser can choose from a variety of binding options that affect the final price. For the small cultural heritage organization, Lulu offers many opportunities. One is to remove the onerous costs of publishing catalogues. If you have a PDF version of your catalogue, upload it to Lulu. Then direct your members (via your website, of course) to the correct item on Lulu and let them order from there. This saves you the cost of printing 1,000 copies up front and the uncertainty of storing them or not selling enough to recoup costs.
Bring old books back to life! Lulu also offers a service of scanning and re-printing vintage books. (See http://www.lulu.com/en/services/vintagepublishing/.) You or your members may want to reprint old catalogues, yearbooks, scrapbooks, or genealogies you hold in your collection; this is an easy and (relatively) inexpensive resource for doing so. Lulu publishes many other types of products, including calendars, brochures, manuals, photobooks, CD and DVDs, and comic books. Lulu also offers to do the design and layout of your text. These more traditional printing-company services are not free, but they are competitively priced and have the convenience of being transacted through the web. You may be able to generate revenue from books or catalogues that you publish through Lulu. When you set pricing for the document, you can set a price-per-item revenue. Lulu will then calculate a commission for itself (about ¼ of your revenue) and generate a total cost that includes printing, shipping, revenue, and commission. LibraryThing LibraryThing allows users to create a library catalogue for their personal collections. The catalogue combines traditional library data like ISBN and date of publication with social media features like tags, discussion threads, and reader reviews. LibraryThing is free; users create a profile and then start adding books to their library. You can add books by title, author, or ISBN number; LibraryThing automatically searches the online catalogues of other libraries (including the Library of Congress) and Amazon. LibraryThing pulls traditional library data from these sites and adds it to the description of books you’ve added in your library. We think LibraryThing has incredibly potential with organizations that have small resource libraries or collections of out-of-print and hard-to-find books. Your users could easily search your online catalogue and then contact you or visit your site to borrow or read the books. Building the online catalogue, while a little tedious, would be a simple and impactful project for volunteers or high school or college interns. Like many of the other applications we highlight in the Public Humanities Toolkit, there is a large and enthusiastic community of users. Periodically they turn out for Flash Mob Cataloguing events, where LibraryThing members in the area descend upon a small organization that needs help cataloguing its library. Folks bring their laptops, bar code scanners, eat pizza and catalogue until the job is done! Often the LibraryThing members are joined by volunteers from the organization in question; recently the Audubon Society of Rhode Island got flash-mobbed and digitized its 2,500 item collection in a matter of hours. This is an excellent example of a small organization reaching out to the Web 2.0 world, both as a way to accomplish a task (cataloguing) and engage its community (hosting the event). LibraryThing will help you organize a Flash Mob for your organization and even provides you with free t-shirts, barcode scanners, and laptop stickers. Greenstone Digital Library Software Greenstone is another digital library project. The set up is definitely more complex than LibraryThing, but it also allows users to add more complex objects such as images, sound files, and video. Greenstone is a free open-source multilingual software application developed by the New Zealand Digital Library Project and distributed in cooperation with UNESCO. One of the big hairy audacious goals of Greenstone is to increase access to knowledge and institutional resources in developing countries.
Greenstone is designed for universities, archives, libraries and other “public service institutions”—in short, Greenstone is for organizations that have professional digital specialists on staff. That helps to explain why the set up is more complicated than most of the other tools we describe in the Public Humanities Toolkit. However, we still think it’s really cool and worth keeping an eye on. Scholars are already finding interesting ways to use Greenstone to share their research and enliven their teaching with real-world tasks for students to build an archive. Check out the Greater Cincinnati Memory Project, for example. Note that, like many open-source projects, the Greenstone website is a wiki, which allows the community of users to add their own projects and advice for how to use the software.