18 November 2006

Digital Skills: Movie

I wish I had more time for making the movie. Hah! That's only the tip of the iceberg. I wish I had more time for all my projects. To make matters worse, both my computer and my wife's computer (with Windows XP) are hopeless! We are living in the stone age. I have to make smoke signals to get online (kidding).

The movie making experience has potential but overall it was disappointing for a number of reasons. After starting over several times, I still couldn't edit the film strip well enough to make the timing of the intervals better. You will notice they are choppy. Moreover, the audio or commentary didn't work well either. I tried making commentary with music in the background. The last thing you want to hear is me talking more than necessary.

Anyway, tell me what you think...

16 November 2006

Army Heritage Museum Virtual Website

Just wanted to share a website that combines interactive elements to make an interesting presentation. Go to Exhibit #3 : "Forging Two Frontiers." What do you think?

12 November 2006

Folksonomic Mobilization

Putting the Public to Work for Your Museum Website

I think my title puts the readings for this week into perspective. Let's try and get the general public to do the arduous work your staff can't. The outlook is bleak, but many institutions continue to place a lot of faith in the democratization of museum website.

The idea of museum visitors on the Web submitting anecdotal snippets, related to certain artifacts, is rather appealing. It could fill many informational gaps in a collection, if that undocumented portion in storage is photographed and accessible on line. However, Federal DoD Museums typically display roughly 10% of a collection. Usually, that 10% consists of artifacts that are well documented and have substantial provenance- thus making them significant and display necessities. For example, a Marine at the Battle of Chosin captured the small Chinese brass bugle, used by troops of the North Korean People's Army to signal the attack. This artifact trumpets a wealth of provenance. Were the bugle part of a "virtual tour" of the new National Museum of the Marine Corps, the number of anecdotal accounts describing the ominous shrill that Marines heard proceeding and enemy attack would certainly enrich the history for that artifact. In reality, those items that lack information usually have not been photographed or even cataloged.

The only objection I had to the readings involved the idea of folksonomic mobilization. This catchy phrase sounds trendy, along with other web initiatives that really only benefit the profiteers. The general public is helping tag museum images for better Goggle-search-ability? How much meta-tag information could possibly be gathered for one photograph before the cost of server space exceeds its worthy? It probably isn't much, but thousands of photos would take up significant space. It sounds as a clever method for curators to eliminate a backlog of work at no cost to the institution!

Linda Hales' article in the Washington Post shows that getting the public to work for you is a slow process. It may not be as bad as drawing blood from a stone, but the results, similar to the initiative of the Gutenberg-e, suggest that esoteric and near-extinct subject matter and artifacts destined for life in storage may squander money.

Digital Skills: HTML, CSS, and Domain Registration and Hosting

For my final project, I decided to use free space offered by Netfirms.com. I did not register my domain, however Netfirms is still hosting my site.

The site is at www.gwot.netfirms.com.

If you look closely on the page about women, each link to the individual women uses Javascript to format the new window that opens. I set the format to include only the title bar as opposed to all the other junk you get when you browse. At the bottom of the page you will notice more javascripting which closes the window.

If you look on the page for women and click on Major Carr, you will notice a neat little US Army Star attached to the pointer.

The site will be further developed and hopefully completed by the end of the course.

Digital Skills: Searching

Working towards my final project, I conducted a "market survey" to determine what was already out there, in terms of primary or eyewitness accounts from American men and women fighting the war in Afghanistan or Iraq in digital archives. To my surprise, there isn't that much at all. Specifically, I was looking for

Searched Goggle using the following strings:

accounts from global war on terror: 3,160,000 hits. Most sites related to GWOT in general, but many were related to opening a website "account," bank accounts, etc.

"accounts from global war on terror": did not match any documents.

personal account "global war on terror": 277,000 hits

Most of the content on the web is basic commentary found on blog sites. Most often, these have a little bit of everything, to include news and a whole rang of other topics.

"soldier stories" AND "global war on terror": 332 hits

This brought me to government pages, general news, and anti-war blog sites.

"primary accounts" "global war on terror": 32

None of the above search strings provided very good results. Of the 32 listed URLs, none had ANY eyewitness accounts outside those from the POWs held at Gitmo Bay.

The search string "journal" and GWOT provided another several millions hits- at one point I found "milblogger", a website with thousands of active duty bloggers, but I did not find anything noteworthy.

The search criteria: (war diary) OIF, really paid off well but with 114,000 hits, whereas "war diary" OIF had 4,430 hits. Actually the former search offered much better material right at the top of the hit list.

I looked back at Mary Ellen Bates' article, “Internet Librarian: 30 Search Tips in 40 Minutes,” and tried the web search triangle using yahoo.com (worse results and I am generally opposed to using yahoo) and metacrawler.com that had great results! The number of hits for (war diary) OIF was 72 and "war diary" OIF netted 55. Not bad.

In closing, the results were rather weak and dissappointing but show that individual war diaries or eyewitness accounts are on the Internet. The key to the GWOT Archive will be meta-tagging the individual pages accurately. The title alone will require carefully targeted wording.