Platform Test Drives

Our afternoon was devoted to hands-on time with one- or more- of the presented platforms for our projects: Omeka, Drupal, or Scalar. I chose Drupal, but ended up spending much of the work time waiting for my site to generate. I got an email on my way home that the site was now available. So this evening, on my own, I gave it a try.

I chose Drupal because I liked the idea of doing something more like the hmtl websites that I had done in the past as opposed to my perception of Omeka, which seemed like more of a one-to-one presentation type tool. My institution has adopted Drupal for it’s content management system and I have attended one rudimentary training session. I found the session to be uninformative, despite Drupal being billed as akin to WordPress which I feel very comfortable with. I thought that starting on my own and using that I would find it easier to use. I did not. I was able to make one entry on something that I wanted to be a static page- simply text, and image, and an image caption. I knew there must be a way to format my image caption, but it was not readily evident to me. I also had a problem with word wrapping in my central column. I explored different control elements in the dashboard and felt pretty lost. I decided to try Omeka to get more momentum for my project and to keep from feeling discouraged at this early stage.

Omeka would be a good platform for a photo project that I have started. I am scanning photographs that I will then catalog at item level in MARC in my library catalog. I can then export those records as a CSV, crosswalk my MARC fields to Dublin Core, then use the Omeka CSV plugin to import them. I decided to experiment with a set of ten objects from our permanent collection, all collected in 1919, whose description data I happened to have in a spreadsheet already. I watched the screencast on using the CSV plugin and learned that I will need help setting up my FTP client to upload my spreadsheet. Moving on, I thought that maybe I could import the images that I will later attach to that data. I made the mistake of adding all of the images as one item, realizing that the best method is probably to upload the data, then upload and link the image files.

Scalar, which I saw demonstrated at the American Art History and Digital Scholarship symposium in the fall, was clearly not appropriate for my topic, at least at this stage. Perhaps as I continue to collect and analyze the collection data I’m interested in and a narrative is formed around my observations, Scalar could be a way to present the entirety of my project. But for now, I’m not dealing with a lot of content and I am not working on a narrative.

Source: Platform Test Drives