Working with Omeka

The use of digital tools and internet technologies is not a foreign concept to me. As I have stated in the past, technology is one of my biggest hobbies. However, the recent project for our class using Omeka has been an experience that I must say was very interesting and thought provoking in regards to what I could do with this program, or a program like it in the future. While creating our collection, which can be found at http://perpetua-felicitas.carrieschroeder.org/, I was surprised how much work went into even a small-scale project like this one. Searching for relevant items that not only related to our topic, but also enhanced it, was a challenge, especially when you consider that the item must be from a source that can verify its authenticity, meaning no uncredited Google Image search photos that are so common on the internet today.

omeka-logoTo speak for a moment about Omeka as a tool before I go into detail about our project, I think that it allows you to do more in considerably less time in contrast to building a similar webpage from scratch using HTML and CSS. You could accomplish virtually the same thing by writing a basic clone of it, but having a bit of experience writing HTML and CSS myself, I can say it would be a significant amount of work, especially if you wanted the same functionality that Omeka provides out of the box. That is not to say it would be impossible build something like the exhibit pages fairly quickly using HTML and CSS, as they could be built using a framework such as bootstrap to layout the page fairly easily. That being said, I think if I were given the option I would use Omeka, as it would be up and running faster, with more functionality. In addition to this, another reason I would choose to use Omeka is the fact that it is open source software. This means that it would be possible to make changes to your Omeka site if you wanted to add functionality or edit the design, providing the user had an existing knowledge of HTML, CSS, and another language such as JavaScript.

Overall, I enjoyed using Omeka and making my contribution to the class exhibit, however, despite of my enjoyment using the program I would not say that there were not any challenges creating it. One of these challenges that I think surprised me the most was the collection and the classification of the metadata for each item. When you think about metadata in its most basic form, simply putting it as “data about data”, as described by Anne Gilliland in her article titled Setting the Stage, it sounds simple enough. Bull and MartyrHowever, when you consider that all of the metadata must follow the same format, site wide, if you want your collection to be searchable using keywords or dates, and also give the correct credit to all creators and clearly communicate the copyright status, it is clear to see that it is not as simple as entering the date and title of the work into a blank field.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part for me in the whole process was creating the exhibit. It was very interesting to see how we could take a unified theme about a particular story, and create so many exhibits that gave ample background information to not only the story itself, but also to how the story and the details related to the time it happened, providing context of how martyrdom was viewed in Roman society. I think that is the big draw of using this program. It is not just a simple collection of images and text that relates to a bigger picture, rather, the ability to tell these stories about the collection by using these exhibits effectively paints the picture for the viewer.

Kyle C.


 

Sources:

Gilliland, Anne J. “Setting the Stage,” from Murtha Baca, ed., Introduction to Metadata (Los Angeles: Getty, 2008)

Image Sources:

http://miriamposner.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/omeka-logo1.png

Anonymous , “Foxe’s Christian martyrs of the world ,” Perpetua and Felicitas Exhibit, accessed October 20, 2015,http://perpetua-felicitas.carrieschroeder.org/admin/items/show/30.

One thought on “Working with Omeka

  1. Yes, yes, it’s not about the tool, it’s about how the data is structured, classified, analyzed, presented.

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