As part of one of my foundations classes, I helped build AARtifacts. You may have read my blog post about my contribution to it. Now I’m turning to thinking about other ways I could use the platform. Omeka’s website offers suggestions of ways to use their platform as a scholar, museum professional, librarian, archivist, educator, or enthusiast. These suggestions are good for brainstorming, but none seem to represent quite the project I would find appealing for my own endeavors.
As a scholar, the site suggests using Omeka to publish a digital dissertation or similar project. I haven’t seen any such projects done by only one scholar — such a task may seem too daunting to many. I have seen, however, a small handful of examples of scholars using the platform to house materials for their research, like John L. Crow’s archive originally brought to my attention through a comment on my post about AARtifacts.* This idea may be useful to me when I ultimately go digital with the research I’ve done for my thesis. The primary hang up in that, though, is it wouldn’t necessarily make sense to house that information on Omeka if I’m using Scalar to build the actual project.
Other ways I could potentially use Omeka turn a bit more personal. For instance, I still have all of my notes from undergrad sitting on my shelves. I could digitize those and make a database of all of that information, thus opening up a few shelves on my bookcase. I also see the potential to include academically related ephemera in a collection of that sort. I do have a trophy, a mug filled with buttons, and some quite expensive pieces of paper (otherwise known as diplomas) after all.
Exploring these questions also require exploring questions about Omeka and its structure. Platforms such as WordPress, Twitter, and Omeka are built for particular demographics of potential users. This is an issue I’ve recently become aware of thanks to T-Kay Sangwand via Nathan Loewen‘s Twitter use at HASTAC, a conference for digital humanities, among other things. And because of my newness to these questions about the implications of using such platforms, there’s a lot of room for reading, research, and learning. From what I know so far, these platforms reinforce and build certain sociological structures that can sometimes be problematic in their moral consequences. Particularly for Omeka, defining metadata is a political act. (Much in the same way that classification is a political act.)
#Hastac17 “metadata is political”
— nathan loewen (@nathanrbloewen) November 3, 2017
For now, all of these questions and this exploration of personal uses of Omeka are just those. Questions and explorations. I have a thesis to write, after all.
*The post was cross posted on the department’s blog, which is where John left his comment.