Platforms and projects

This post is mostly speculative, since I didn’t try out most of the platforms presented today. And I’m only just starting to learn the one platform I tried, Omeka.

1. Omeka appeals to me as a pedagogical tool because it seems simple to understand and use, and offers a great format for student projects with the “Exhibit” plug-in. I am considering using it in a Fall seminar, where each student would create her own website on a research topic in lieu of a research paper. The students will still have to do research and formulate an argument, but in a different form from a term paper.

I am not sure how to use Omeka for my own research projects so far. My projects (the one on Brazilian modernism described in earlier posts, and two other research projects on architecture and urbanism) are not really about collections of discrete objects, but rather about sites and buildings that are inseparable from their urban locations and larger socio-spatial contexts. I can’t quite picture separating them as “items” and individual files with labels and metadata. Although I could use this format to tell a story about my projects, I don’t think this would take full advantage of their spatiality. But then again, there is a map plug-in in premium Omeka, so perhaps that would open up possibilities that I can’t envision yet. I’m thinking of the site on Visualizing NYC that Kimon showed us today–I think that was Omeka, and it had a very cool map. BUT: Kimon mentioned that they used a custom Java script for the map (which I don’t know how to do).

2. Prezi

Prezi seems great for organizing class materials for students. I didn’t try it out, but Kimon’s timeline was an amazing way of displaying information. I’d seen Prezi presentations before and I didn’t particularly like them, but today I changed my mind.

3. Drupal Gardens

I didn’t try it out, so I don’t have a sense of what it looks like or how it would work. It was described as very flexible, and based on a node structure–all of this seems appropriate for my projects, where I envision a map as the center of information and interactivity. As in: a page taken up mostly by a high-definition map with links to book passages and historical photographs placed on specific locations. From these links someone would open up new pages, which could be texts or images; and there could also be a reverse-lookup from the texts to the maps. It all sounds very abstract, I might try to sketch this out later.

4. Scalar

I must confess I don’t quite have an idea of Scalar compared to the other platforms (maybe I was in the restroom when it was explained in class?).

5. WordPress

I like the ease of use. It is appealing as a teaching tool for this reason. I also like it as a way of developing my thoughts and recording my work process, just as we are doing with the homework assignments. I wish it were a little more flexible in terms of its calendar/blog structure.


Source: Platforms and projects

Homework Day_3: The strengths and weaknesses of the platforms

In our hands on session today, I dove into Drupal Gardens (at least at first). I chose Drupal Gardens because it was touted as having the most flexibility in terms of site-design and capabilities (or at least that is what I took from the conversations around it), but that it might require a bit more elbow grease in getting the project/site off-the-ground.

This led me back to another set of issues that I have been contemplating, off-and-on, since my first thoughts about/on/around Mapping Paris: how much do I need to know about the technology going on in the background? If I need to reach out to others with different knowledge sets in the design/start-up phase of the project, how do I make them active contributors and not just service-providers to the project? Which led me to the place where I am now in this thinking: that I need to know at least a little bit about the inter-workings of the technology and software, so that I can (try to) 1) speak the language 2) understand other contributors 3) take software/tech into consideration while in the scope/planning phase of the project.

Drupal Gardens took too long to populate my website, so I decided to try my luck with the one-click installation of Drupal onto my webpage hosted by Reclaim Hosting. From what I understand, the differences between Drupal Gardens and Drupal, is that while the former is more flexible and open-ended than Omeka and SCALAR (the other CMS introduced today), it is more user-friendly and more regimented than plain-old Drupal, which is bare-bones AND (most important for me) needs some knowledge of HTML coding to really flesh out your site.

Which brought my previous musings on knowing the tech-side to the very-tangible present. I was able to make a node (a page, in Drupal-speak), but all it contained was some bare-bones text AND I was able to change the color schema and remove the logo (which I thought was distracting). Everything else will have to wait until I remind myself how to add emphasis to text via HTML tags, and (significantly) up-the-ante on my HTML skills. I have left my plodding work up for the moment, in an exercise of making myself vulnerable and allowing the unpolished, work-in-progress nature of the project to be visible, but it probably will be hidden soon, as I make slow progress towards a functional site. For now, check out to see my work, thus far.

Where am I going to start learning HTML? Good question, but here are some places I am going to start thinking about*:

The Programming Historian

Women’s Coding Collective


*My thanks to Lauren, Sharon and Stephanie for the programming suggestions!

Source: Homework Day_3: The strengths and weaknesses of the platforms