Building an Audience

As we have discussed in class, an audience is key to a successful web site because if no one visits the site then there is not much of a point in making it. When I stated to think about building an audience I thought about how I am part of the audience of the sites I visit. When I enter a site it is usually from a link or from the results of me googling a certain term. Occasionally I hear about a site from other people or via social media such as Facebook. I tend to use sites that are organized and easy to navigate. Keeping my personal interaction with the internet in mind I think that creating a digital project that uses frequently searched terms and using social media to spread the word that the web site exists will ensure its success. For our Civil War diaries project we are planning to make a site that is easy to navigate whether you enter from the main screen or a specific dairy page. Since we are working mostly with primary sources it is important that we make the site easy to follow and not too complicated so the visitor can find what they are looking for. My group and I believe our main audience for the site will be scholars and educators that will use it for academic and educational proposes. We anticipate that many other people will visit our site such as people interested in the Civil War and visitors to the National Park Service. The main goal for our website is to educate our visitors about Steven Gordon and the importance of primary sources.

Week #4: 3-D Scanner, James Monroe Museum, and DKC

This week my fellow group memebers and I attended three meetings that were crucial for the future success of our project.

First, on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016, we went to Trinkle Hall for our first meeting with Dr. Meadows. During this meeting Dr. Meadows showed us four 3D scanner options that will be available for us to use to scan the objects at the museum into our SketchFab site. He was very knowledgeable about the scanners capabilities including their accuracy, the maximum object size that can be scanned, the portability, and other specifics about each of the four devices. At the end of the meeting my group members and I concluded that a few of the 3D scanners would be sufficient for our projects needs.

Next, on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016, my group members and I met Jarod Kearney,the curator at the James Monroe Museum, to update him on our progress with the project so far and to discuss which objects from the museum would be best to scan. After talking as a group for half an hour and looking at the physical museum objects to determine if they would be ideal to scan, we decided on five specific objects to be scanned.

Lastly, on Thursday, February 4th, 2016, we went to the DKC for a scheduled appointment with a tutor. During the appointment we searched the Omeka website to find a pug-in that would allow us to upload 3D image files to our future website and determined that there was no such option available. We were not discouraged through, because after a little bit of internet browsing, the tutor found a website called SketchFab which we will use in conjunction with Omeka to create a website that not only provides internet users and researchers with detailed information about each museum object, but that also allows them to manipulate 3D objects.

I fell like my group has been very productive and focused this week and I think we are off to a great start to our project!

Project Progress

My group has been assigned to digitize the letters of Montgomery Slaughter and George Murray, and so far, I think we are making pretty good progress on that front. The members assigned to scanning the documents are doing well, and we are experimenting with how to make the site, do an introductory video, and handling other details. I think the question of audience is very important to our group, not because of any confusion as to who might be in that group, but just because that might be a very broad audience we’ll attempt to reach. Historians, teachers, students, and tourists are all groups that we would definitely want to reach through our project.

I think there’s a variety of things we could do to increase traffic for the website once it exists in a completed form. The most obvious of course, is to make sure we use plenty of tags and terms that will cause the website to come up quickly in google searches. What we can also do is contact various Civil War groups to try and promote the site, as well as use our own social media accounts to drum up interest that way. Another thing that might be worth trying is making flyers or something of that nature to distribute to local visitor centers and tourist sites.

One easy way to deal with site maintenance after the semester is over would be to simply hand the log-in information for the site over to the National Park Service; as it will be linked to their site, I would imagine they might take responsibility for occasionally checking in on the site to make sure it is at least functional.

Progress and Thoughts on the Laser Scanning Project

My group members and I have held several meetings to learn about UMW’s 3D laser scanners, objects at the James Monroe Museum, and digital tools to make our website. We learned that UMW has a variety of laser scanners including a portable scanner that attaches to an iPad, a portable scanner with a turntable for small objects, and a larger scanner capable of scanning a person. In our consultation with the James Monroe Museum, we decided that we are going to try to scan five objects including one of Monroe’s outfits, his hat, dueling pistols, a shoe, and a chair associated with Lafayette.

At the moment, one of our greatest concerns is finding ways to present the scans of the objects online. Because the museum prefers the Dublin Core system, we plan on creating a website for the project using Omeka. However, Omeka does not have a plugin for displaying 3D files. After consulting with the DKC, we think we might create a SketchFab account to host the 3D files, linking the pages to our Omeka website. Using SketchFab would also present new opportunities for attracting an audience. Our descriptions of the objects on SketchFab would be aimed at educating a broader audience and encouraging them to visit the James Monroe Museum, while our Omeka site would have a scholarly research orientation.

Thoughts On The HCC/ITCC Project

I have to say that I am pretty excited to begin working on this Convergence Center project. We will begin immediately next week by talking to admissions and doing some thorough research on the building’s history and its primary uses. In class today, we briefly discussed as a group what we wanted to do for the future interviews. Should we record video or just record a short audio interview? The latter would reduce the risk of losing footage, but we decided to leave it in the proposal just in case we do decide to use video for the interviews.

If we were to do video interviews, we would use a format similar to that of the show 60 Minutes. For now, we will focus on the research and setting up the future interviews with the people involved with the planning stages and others that we need to meet with in order to make the final product what we imagine it to be.

The more we discuss the future of the HCC website, the more I realize how important it is for the school. We could potentially bring in more students and increase overall traffic to the building. Like I mentioned in the beginning, I can’t wait to begin, but there will always be that thought of messing up and not getting enough publicity,making it unappealing, etc. haunting me everyday until most of the hard work is complete.

One finall thought before I conclude this post. It would be great publicity for our website and even the other groups websites if we were able to advertise in The Blue and Gray Press, the town paper itself, and their online counterparts. I’m sure  they will bring in some early traffic once all of the websites are up and running!

Progress in Planning HCC Website

My group in Digital History has been assigned to document the history of the Convergence Center through the creation of a website. This week, my group had to discuss the mission and goals of our website, as well as the audience, tools we plan to use, and a relative timeline of when we want to accomplish certain goals by. So far, the organization of our project planning seems to be going smoothly, and we have a solid idea of what we want to accomplish. Our mission is as follows:

Part of this project involves introducing the building to new and prospective UMW students will likely be the primary audience. Secondary audience will include current students, faculty members, and members of the community. We would like to get a perspective on how the ITCC could potentially use this project, and how we change this project from a niche seminar grade, into a resource for the university as a whole.
For our website to gain publicity, we can partner with Admissions, and have them advertise our website. Additionally, we can share our page through social media, and have people we know share the page. We could also link our site to the official HCC website to gain more traffic. In order to sustain our website, we can hand over our site to admissions or permanent staff of the HCC. They can keep the website updated when it becomes outdated.

On Contracts, Molars, and Audience

For me this week started with a dull pain in my mouth that grew exponentially in the course of 24 hours, by Tuesday morning I was on hold with a dentist. Luckily I was still home and still able to communicate with the team.

For the contract I initially wanted to keep to my strengths, hence volunteering for gathering documents and etc.; the other project, website layout/organization, I volunteered for based on a rough website layout I put together in class and was well received.

In thinking about audience, the obvious initial use for the site would be as a resource for admissions to advertise the building to prospective students and faculty.

Questions and Concerns

After reading through Chapter 5 this week, a few questions arose as to my group’s project.  Firstly, who exactly will our website’s audience be?  Our project will be connected to the National Park Service, and I envision them serving several different groups of people.  These would include historians and other scholars, tourists, and teachers and students.  Since these groups will most likely vary widely in their needs, our website must be able to accommodate them.  It may be helpful to have different tabs on our website to make sure traffic flows to the area of the site that is appropriate for their uses.  For example, our tabs could read “research,” “tourism,” and “teachers and students.”

A second question that arose was how do we advertise to increase traffic to our site?  We do not have money to pay for something like this, but our site will be connected to the NPS, a prominent organization and resource for Civil War history.  Because of this affiliation, I assume that we will not have to worry too much about this, but instead focus on what key words we can put on our site to make it come up in search engines such as Yahoo and Google.

A final question I had was about site maintenance and if our group will be responsible for things such as fixing broken links even after this semester has ended.  Since we will be connected with the NPS, an established and respected organization, it would look unprofessional if a site created for them was not up-to-date.  I know that Omeka installs updates automatically, but am unsure if this will be enough to keep our site looking fresh.

Project Video?

There was no prompt for an entry this week so I will write the first thing that came to mind.

Recently we learned about different ways video can be used to express a message without actually saying anything.  What I wonder is: “Is there any way we can use a video in our project of digitizing letters?”  At a first glance, the answer is no; mainly because we are only looking at letters and I am a computer science major who would not consider the historical aspect of the project (which is really what the project is about).  At a first glance to anyone who is not me, the answer is yes; there are many historical reenactments around Fredericksburg and if any of them have recorded a video about an event in the Civil War that coincides with one of the letters we are looking at, then we can use their video in our site (with their permission as necessary).  My group also talked about museums downtown that we could go to with a video camera to record different exhibits.  We could record them in such a way that it would appear to the viewer as if they themselves were feeling the exhibit or were looking up at a superior or across from a field of weapons.  Maybe we could even record the letters themselves as if the viewer was reading them while they were being read aloud by voice-over.

So after giving it good thought there are plenty of ways we could incorporate a video in our project that I had not considered until recently.  We could give a new angle to see these written letters and do more than have people read them off of their computer.  Granted, I do not know if we will actually do any of this but having this option open could lead to an interesting final project.

Maps & Timelines

This assignment was a good interactive way to familiarize myself with these new tools. I have never done a project that involved the use of either StoryMapJS or TimelineJS but I can really see now how they will be helpful for this class and especially my group project. StoryMapJS was pretty simple to use, I had no problem uploading pictures and editing the content. I preferred the StoryMapJS of the two because it looked better visually. I like the integration of the map while the slideshow played; for this slideshow I mapped out all the places I’ve ever lived and visited, and  it was great to see the scope of all the locations marked out on the map. TimelineJS was good, but I think it’s more suited to factual and historical information due to how simple it is. Using the excel doc took a little more time to navigate but it wasn’t impossible either. I simply transferred the info as best as I could from my previous StoryMapJS.

Lastly, I liked how both applications gave me the option to save and share a link to the project, and I also liked that the code was readily available for copy and pasting into our own sites.