Monday, 23 April 2012

Just to let you know...

Have just put up the Reflection, there should be a link to it on the left however you can click here. Am rushing to finish Dissertation so cannot type for long but wish luck to all those in a similar position and hopefully see you on Friday. Best Wishes Neil ;0)

Sunday, 15 April 2012

...3,2,1 and Back in the Room?

Hi all,

Had a bit of a break from twitter and the blog but have been working hard on that damned dissertation and the essays and such. There should be a website proposal under the Essay link on the left or just click on the link here. Have set up a dummy site and may (if I have the time...) put some extra diagrams, etc. on the essay page. One down, two to go! One of them being the dissertation, although I've only got some restructuring and intros & conclusions to go on that  (Ha! only?). Oh, and the bibliography and appendices...arrgh! Will hopefully see people later in the week, otherwise enjoy the website & proposal. Don't worry, it'll all be over in two weeks, one way or another...?    

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

More Essay Ideas

Good grief, was on a bit of a downer last week! :0) Having just re-read the last post I'm going to start on a more positive note with a couple of new ideas.  The first one was more of an idea for presenting information for small museums or other history related institutions (Public History?) where space is a problem. All it would be is a projector with either a motion sensor or touch screen which would act as a large display screen and (something like the virtual museum idea from before) displaying information for multiple items. This could have virtually anything from static pictures and text to 3D images or video/audio. I wouldn't see this as replacing traditional displays as enhancing them, displaying further information or objects that didn't quite make it into the main exhibition. It is kind of a logical progression from a television showing a static video. I think children (and probably adults!) would love the interactivity of it with the possible expansion into advanced motion sensor technology (from something like a X-Box Kenect movement sensor) could add even more opportunity for interaction. Going back to my doom laden prediction from last week that digitisation could see the closure of archives etc, I don't see it happening any time soon as the space to store it just doesn't exist, let alone the man hours or money to do it! Plus, if you show a little bit of what you have online it could actually encourage people to come and see the larger collection. 

Another idea that has cropped up and is probably the one I may go with is a database website, perhaps something like Wikipedia but on a more specific or local format. For example, you maybe interested in Chartism but how would you link information from a website, court proceedings, newspapers, a book or video? The site could have a national general database (perhaps not always necessary?), but then go down to a local level with county's or cities and individuals with their information on that subject. Links to the relevant content to back up any information could then be provided. The website would give you a form to fill in for each page/item so that all the lovely XML is consistently set up (so a search for say "fire" doesn't have to include fire/fires/fireplace/etc) and to a small extent monitored. By limiting the description of items to be added to the database via drop-down menu lists and adding something called error checking (it makes sure a text or numerical value is entered) it could be quite a powerful way to use crowd sourcing. There would probably still be cases of independent text boxes, however it would be down to whoever sets up the database (and form) to decide how much or little freedom and latitude is given. I would also envisage a facility to request other classifications for the form, and probably some sort of history and/or discussion pages. I don't know if this has been done before? History Pin is possibly the closest but I don't think anyone has done a specific site for databases that potentially anyone could set up related directly to a history topic. There are lots of database hosting sites but these are for commercial activities and charge a fee. It is still a work in progress so I'm open to any comments (as always!).    

Also, please have a look at my map at the bottom of this page from BatchGeo regarding Swing attacks in Norfolk - I think it looks alright however I'm not sure about how accurate it is(in numbers/specific location versus parish). Good luck to all working on essays/dissertations! ;0)     

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Digital History Essay Blues

Have been looking at setting up my plan for this essay and had two ideas with regards to designing a website related to history;
  1. Was with regard to a virtual museum with virtual floors and displays you could wonder around and interact with. Perhaps have multimedia elements as well.
  2. Was a micropayment pre-paid card/wallet for paying for internet content.
The problem with both of these is that they have been done before! There are some virtual sites out there of varying quality and some sponsored by larger institutions but not one along the lines of what I was thinking of. Basically a site like a computer game (Sims) or Second Life with rooms to walk around and cabinets to interact with? It could be as large as you wanted it to be, with as many artifacts on display as the server could cope with! However, the problem with this is it would put people off going physically to the actual museum/archive which kind of gives the reason why this hasn't been followed up. Some sites follow; Is ok if kind of old fashioned I have no idea what this site is trying to achieve! Essay on virtual museums from 2002 Article on a 3D art museum where your interaction can create art (?) as you walk around it.
This could also be an argument why so many institutions have avoided putting collections online with regards to reducing visitor numbers. Its free online yet may cost you to get to or into an actual museum or archive (most archives are free but charge you for photographic licences or copies). It could also result in archives being shut down; its easier to digitise everything and shut the visitor centre and have only a few people looking after a hermetically sealed vault somewhere. It would be a shame as I like handling actual physical manuscripts or letters that may not have seen the light of day for years. This leads me on to idea two and the micropayments thing which cropped up in last weeks session with regard to viewing content online. A quick search on Wikipedia led to the fact that people with vastly more resources than myself had tried and failed with this second option.  

Hence I felt I had run out of ideas until I thought of an app (which seems to be the direction things are going in) whereby you could create a map with different locations on it relating to a project. Perhaps like Batchgeo but with more functionality e.g. like Zotero, a button sits on your browser and you push it and it adds the current webpage and location onto a map so you can build up a picture of what happened, where and when (timeline as well?). And then I remembered a very old idea from college; stay with me here as we are going to go theoretical! The tenet of postmodernism is that nothing is incorrect so long as you have at least some evidence to back up a theory - which applies to history as well. Nothing is set in stone with regard to theories as opposed to facts (?), it does get a bit complicated but that's the gist of it I think.  How on earth do you teach  this? It took me a while to wrap my head around it - I remember having a conversation with my history teacher at college when doing my Access course (hi Bridget!) about a website that was flexible. Imagine something like a Rubik's cube with lots of different compartments; in each compartment a historian tries to convince you of the validity of their theory. So you might have an overarching subject like the First World War but like the old choose your own adventure books you follow a path through the site and could come up with different conclusions depending on which compartments you visit. So for example, was it Germany's fault the war stated or Britain's?

A bit of a long one today however I found it cathartic to vent out some ideas;  I will choose one of the above and write the essay very soon as I think we have only got about a month and its due in!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Critique & Other Stuff!

Hi, have been busy like everyone else I suppose with dissertation and essays - the Critique of a website is now up. Go to the left hand side of this blog and there should be a Pages gadget, click on Critique and it should take you to another page with the text and images on it. Have also handed in hard copy today just in case the paperwork gremlins get their knickers in a twist?! I am also having trouble with the images, I've tried different files and sizes but am forced to conclude that it's something to do with Blogger and the way it compresses files. The ones I'm uploading are fine on my computer, why do they look bad once I've uploaded them to my blog? Some homework for me for next week!? Any way have found the following site in my travels, its a bit macabre as its figures for capital punishment but interesting nonetheless - I didn't know you could be hanged for Uttering (?!) in the nineteenth century;

Apparently something to do with knowingly passing a forged document to obtain money/defraud someone. Not as worrying as it sounds...