Public History Online
“museums increasingly have to recognize that their future audience will have been brought up on the jump cuts of MTV, the branching game worlds of Nintendo, and the hyperlinking of the Web. In such an environment, hypertext is a survival strategy.”-Steve Dietz,
Museums have to recognize that this is their current audience. A Millenial Audience to which the strategies with which to reach them have to change. I would even argue that Dietz’s statement is becoming or has already become dated.
The Devices of Wonder site was fascinating; It is intriguing to see object history that I would never look for on my own represented in interesting digital ways. The way this site even begin to present its object is quite worrisome. Do not get me wrong the object interface was exciting and being able to zoom in on the object provided a very different feel. However the puppets and creepy music, in the beginning, I could perhaps do without. However there are several downsides to this site, it presents the object and then the culture rather than the other way around. Because this is a digital source, it does not allow the reader or virtual museum-goer a moment to familiarize themselves with the objects. If a person is doing a specific search of a piece of material, like Facial Expression film by Thomas Edison it is the site for you. It does challenge its audience but more with the add-ons to download and how the page freezes. It did have some redeemable qualities like for example the Portable Diorama. A miniature theatre teaching tool for demonstrating how to create translucent paintings. It has an interactive tool that allows the user to find out how it works by action. The idea of the user becoming part of the exhibition rather than just a spectator is what is making many of these sites more popular than others.
A site that both reflects current scholarship and challenges its audience it would be the Cleveland Historical site. This site provides the user an opportunity to explore the sites historical information. It puts the user in control while offering a plethora of topics around Cleveland. This site allows the city of Cleveland to become a virtual tour that can be transplanted into the city. I am always a sucker for well functioning mapping apps on a historical website. The one on this site is very well done. Going down rabbit holes in this site is something that can quickly happen. A good reason for this is that the site lets you explore it in a manner of stories or tours. This option provides the user with a completely different experience with how he deals with content. The topics within the site are so diverse that it is smart to let the user control their experience.
“Instead of leading with the object, lead with the story of the culture, historical context, important people and places, and their importance. Tell engaging stories with objects woven through them. Do so via entertaining, prescribed paths that both lead the user lightly by the hand and encourage curiosity, exploration, and serendipity.” – Kevin Donovan
This is something that the Cleveland site does better than the devices of Wonder site for example. The Map and story feature provide enough context so that the user does not feel bombarded with information and is at their whim to explore. The information on this site is very diverse with Cleveland being a commonality that they all share. The site challenges the user as it makes them explore different sites and building of Cleveland while providing the source information. It also offers additional images, video, audio and the current GPS location of where it is or was located. While exploring through the story mode, I came across Glenville’s Racial Transition. It is a very intriguing story of the Glenville neighborhood and the connection between the African American and Jewish communities. It has images and audio files of residents of this neighborhood and what it was like to live there. This is just one example of the very intriguing sources that this site has to offer.
All Roads Lead to… Digital Mapping
Digital Mapping had provided the visually contextualize specific information that could help the overall reception of the data as well as the information received. Digital mapping can provide the opportunity of creating great maps that allow the possibility of seeing different patterns. Different projects of digital mapping have provided the opportunity for not only the creator to interpret the data differently but the various users to offer their interpretation of such. Digital mapping can provide more knowledge of for example historical battles. In The Cutting-Edge Second Look at the Battle of Gettysburg there are exquisite example of what digital mapping can achieve. Within this project there are several recorded moments and locations of the battle of Gettysburg. This map allows people to examine, down to an hourly bases on some occasions, moments within the battle that with a better understanding of the terrain and several other factors gain new appreciations.
The Caribbean has some exciting digital mapping projects, one of particular interest is the development of railroads in Puerto Rico. This project because of it several essential points of Puerto Rican and Caribbean History. Created by Hector Ruiz in his Blog Redescubriendo a Puerto Rico. Started in 2012 when Ruiz was looking at a map he has had for many years and wondered about the old railways of Puerto Rico. Railways that only are seen in reminiscents on the island today as all were decommissioned by 1957. Within his page the story of the old Puerto Rican Railways can be presented with a more vivid concept than previously shown.
Many people within the island of Puerto Rico perhaps have no knowledge that this Railway system even existed, for the most part, it has been forgotten. Construction of the railways began in 1888 and ti started service in 1891 it traveled much of the coast of the island. Having a tumultuous history, the railway system in Puerto Rico regularly circulated until 1951 and it had limited and in limited operations until 1957. In this excellent crowdsourcing project, the railway mapping becomes a tremendous communal effort between many people in Puerto Rico to tell a history of a plethora of subjects. This could manifest itself in the map as a place, like a train station of a particular town and the Hacienda in its proximity, a study of the people who lived and worked there. This mapping project uses Google Maps as its engine this map details wherein the island there were different railways, stations, culverts, railway streets, buildings, bridges, old loco-motors, ports, and routes, among some other interesting information. All these widgets make the map look a bit clunky, but the knowledge gained from it is quite impressive.
The map details different culverts along the routes of the railways. When you select the culvert icon or any of the others, there is a small window on the left of the screen that presents itself with a brief description and photo. The map also displays the different train stations positioned in the various towns. Some stations do not provide much information but others, like the Campo Alegre Station which can even include information as to the different station chiefs in the early 20th century. It also provides the trajectory between stations; this becomes particularly interesting when focusing on stations between major cities. In Puerto Rico at the turn of the 20th century and still today San Juan and Ponce. The map provides information circa 1914 of the trajectory from the “Campo Alegre Station” in a direction to Ponce, taking from 9:10 AM to 11:18 PM and in a direction to San Juan from 6:54 AM to 3:13 PM.
This map helps provide an exciting backdrop of Puerto Rican history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when putting this mapping project in contrast with the others found in the Redescubriendo a Puerto Rico blog the expansion of the project of quite fascinating. This project goes in hand with another mapping project located on the page which is of Sugar Plantations in Puerto Rico. It should come as no surprise that when comparing both maps, the railways and the plantations line up. The real economic gain that was profited by the sugar plantations led to the further expansion of the railways. The Sugar plantation or hacienda map, not as crowded as the railway map, provides a clear understanding of the dominating power of the sugar economy in Puerto Rico. The strength of the sugar and coffee economies are very well highlighted through these maps. Considering how quickly the railways were abandoned after the sugar and coffee economies had gone down in Puerto Rico shows how the trains and these economies went hand in hand.
These digital mapping projects provide a different vantage point for Puerto Rico’s economic history on the turn of the 20th century and a missed opportunity of public transportation. There is one map dedicated to the travel from San Juan to Ponce. This mapping project gains more significance when considering how important these two particular cities were to Puerto Rico at that time. In the 19 and 20th centuries as both cities were considered to be for the capital of the Island in one point, San Juan winning out in the end. These mapping projects provide a further understanding of the Puerto Rican economy in this crucial historical period. When comparing the Centrales Azucareras map (Sugar Plantation) with the Railway Map, there is more clarity with locations as it relates to production. The Centrales Azucareras that were located more on the coast had, in most cases, begun earlier than those in the interior. There is also something to be said of the proximity of the haciendas to certain train stations. Ruiz had a whole map dedicated to the railways of the more mountainous areas, which is essential to understand how specific Haciendas moved their merchandise. By tracking the different years and locations were Haciendas began to develop there is also the possibility of monitoring population movement and establish a pattern of labor history in the island. With the different mapping tools provided in this blog, so many opportunities and focuses of study become available.
Digital mapping tools have become very useful Worldwide for humanitarian efforts. For example, after Hurricane Maria digital crowdsourcing maps began to develop in Puerto Rico. Using the tool OpenStreetMap, crowdsourced maps were produced to help determine where relief efforts were most needed. This was made possible by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team. This group has worked with several humanitarian efforts from all over. In 2010 they were helping assist the people in Haiti after the Hurricane by using crowdsourced mapping. The information provided or ascertained through digital mapping can seem boundless at times. Digital mapping can create new historical quandaries of previously thought to be static data. It can also be utilized as an incredible tool for at the moment humanitarian efforts. All roads lead to digital mapping.
Thinking of how digital tools have altered the approach of my historical research is saying too little. Notwithstanding the mere possibility to search anything you want online from the capacity of a handheld device, it has also changed the way people interact with it. Beginning with Google and having grown up with encyclopedias, the difference is incredible. Google is just the tip of the Iceberg. Considering that saying that a handheld device can provide so much information is saying something.
Digitization has become a cornerstone for my Caribbean studies. Sites like Manioc have been essential tools in my research, given the sometimes complexities of studying the Caribbean. As much as I wish that the IREL site was more user-friendly, I cannot deny its important use for my study. I can find digital primary source material from the comfort of my own home. The digitization of archives has provided researches, who perhaps cannot afford a plane ticket for an incredible archive in Aux Province. Digitization alone has been incredibly influential for the development of research for people who’s archives might be out of reach. A fondness and appreciation for the historical process is not something that everyone appreciates, sadly. New authentic tools have allowed history to become more reachable.
All that can be accomplished through mapping today is incredible. Visualization tools are what has helped history reach a broader audience that at times are reluctant to show interest. These tools provide new ways of the next generation to, not only explore history but get more excited about it. We have already mentioned the incredible uses of mapping and graphing apps such as Tableau. The ability to take static data and making it accessible in a more attractive way has wholly changed the historical audience and perspective. Students might look at a table on a book and be able to understand it. However by using mapping and graphics apps the perception changes entirely. I could, as I did in a previous post, use this software to present information in different ways to students to see if different conclusions are drawn. With mapping apps, patterns become more attainable. If I am doing a graph on the Transatlantic slave trade, for example, using mapping and graphing apps, perhaps the idea of the French Atlantic Triangle will be more intrinsic than any words I say.
Mapping is making the future of my field a fascinating one. Climate is a necessary aspect to keep in mind when studying islands in general. Storms have ravished the Caribbean for a long time; mapping can provide two exciting things. One it can help give a more comprehensive view of a location, like for example an old rum distilleries in the Caribbean. These are incredible sources of both tourism and history for the islands of the island. The relation to sugar, slavery and later rum distilleries in the Caribbean are crucial for their history. The relation between these factors and how they correlate histories between Caribbean.
You Gotta Know Your Rights
I must admit that copyright is something that inspires great fear in me because I know they can be at times difficult waters to navigate. With the evolution of the digital sources, especially when thing king of born-digital date, this situation gathers the old problems that anyone can run into with archives or book legality. However when thinking of the impact that copyright has had in the last few years with digital media has become a new animal, but there are some added variables. Many of the new pitfalls within the digital on the idea stem from its vast capacity. You could only put so much into a book at one point, the amount of information that can be put unto a website can open a person up to several legal situations. These span several forms of media, not just images and also it can be instantaneous.
Cohen and Rosenzweig made it clear when they said that “the copyright problems of the online historian are both easier and harder than those of others working in the digital realm.”(203) Given all the simultaneous digital mediums to which a historical website can function online with the idea of copyright has to be more present constantly. Historians must be aware of the changing nuances within copyright law. Instances of copyright law can arise from many vantage points today. When thinking of Museums, thinking of cell phones and their always improving camera options, taking pictures of Art, becomes more compact and sophisticated. How does the transfer of ownership arise from a picture of a work of art? If the museum had strict no photo rules, can that picture be put publically online, like on Facebook, who claims responsibility? I always think of some possible form of doomsday scenario every time I post something online.
To be honest even with the readings, and the Free Culture one was fascinating, it still did not felt like a clear line is drawn on copyright in the digital world. It always seems like it will continue to present cases to which the line will be unclear. One aspect that this makes me wonder about is the subject from last week about 3D printing. As more and more 3D printers arrive in homes copyright law will change. The effect this is having on archives can be debatable, but I find that sites that can further the expansion of many digital archives are a good thing. It is essential to be mindful of the negative influences this can have on the aspects of forgeries, which I still do not feel has been adequately addressed.
Preservation Through Neglect Takes Too Long
Preservation through neglect does not even seem like a correct term, but it is accurate term. Most historical preservation had its existence through this lens, the waiting lens. Twenty-five to fifty years of neglect and suddenly we have history. Digital Preservation is the road historians and archivists are on, but the ever-growing concerns of this new medium can be daunting. However, the opportunities it provides are unmeasurable, but this is not binary to the reliability of this media, although some think it so. One is clear about this medium, it is not perfect, but it is the present and future of preservation and we must act as quick as this medium in our adaptation to it.
First, let’s break the conception, held by some, that digital preservation is full proof, because it is not. When comparing this to some forms of physical preservation some aspects escape the mind. Paper comes to mind and old documents deteriorating. Having worked in the library and in some areas of preservation I am aware of what this looks like and what it can smell like. There in the end, the smell notwithstanding, the physical object is present and in some form legible. Some form of legibility even with very old text for example does survive. On the flip side of that anyone who is reading this at this moment has at one point most likely encountered the phrase “data corrupted.” When this happened on a disc, usb, or some other forms of this medium the likelihood of that being lost forever is high. Growing up listening to shared cd’s in a household of eight, you slowly begin to believe that part when the skips is just part of the song. Data corruption such as this has already made us lose so much information.
When I was very young I remember seeing floppy disc and the slot available for them in computers. They left very quickly from my memory, but looking at 80’s movies this was the way to bring down super powers. Now it is very likely that someone under the age of 20 as never seen one. Now there several more ways of preserving, but not nearly sophisticated enough. All this begs the question what should be preserved. Before we had lack and now we have abundance of information, and the belief is that now we have to be more selective as to what we preserve digitally.
I have never understood how people can look at 3D printing and imaging and not wonder if they’re part of an 80’s Sci-fi movie. This part of digital reservation is by far one of its most exciting and also incredibly complex and dangerous. The endless possibilities of what can be printed can be scary. The possibilities of 3D imaging and the impact it has had on historical preservation are outstanding. This can also be an also be an incredible teaching tool for so many classrooms. You could be studying Reverend Robert Hunt for some reason, this medium gives the possibility of turning every classroom into a museum.
The methods of preservation are one thing, but just like with most digitized materials, this medium moves fast. Which means our methods of adaptation for preservation should and must be faster as well. Historians are in a weird position to finally decide presently what can be historical in the future and now they cannot decide.
New Born Digital Histories Every Minute
History that is born digital has immense possibilities but is still relatively new which make its navigation as challenging as dealing with a newborn. As digital archives become more and more popular, they enter the forefront of the arguments of the future of historical preservation. Although the sheer amount of data gained cannot be ignored, the manner of collection and presentation of said materials requires finesse depending on the subject. Software like Omeka is used on many archival sites like The April 16 Archive, or The September 11 Digital Archive make the creation of these sites more tangible. Although all the data gathered might not serve specific historical purposes, some or perhaps most will to someone.
Just like any newborn, everyone has read the new books, and everyone believes they have it all figured out, but they do not. Just like there are several views on parenting, navigating through born digital history creates skepticism from certain family members. Many historians are still at odds-on how-to asses’ data that is born digital. The skepticism from this born digital data, stems in large part to what makes it unique and great. The possibility that this data can arrive from anywhere at any moment is the beauty and where the problem stems from. Daniel Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig assess in their book, the idea that although the medium of data gathering is different much of the same aspects of classic archival research remain. Authenticity has always been a challenge that historians have had to deal with and forgeries or misrepresentations, and so much more has to be considered. The methods applied, as established by Cohen and Rosenzweig, for proving authenticity in many cases still must pass through similar channels before publishing. This point of their argument did not leave me convince, as the possibility is still very open and can be missed depending on the volume of data
Learn to Crawl Before You Walk
When considering the possible addition that can be made to memories and their study for example, is very exciting. The study of a memory from its proximity to an event can lead to different historical perspectives and areas of study in the possible future. This is a great tool specially when considering the area of memory studies. Clarity can be a necessity when addressing what you are looking for, especially for born digital date. There are The September 11 website, which through its mission statement of “establishing a permanent record of the events of September 11” makes them cast a very wide net. Making this archive large, containing interesting and heartbreaking material, but of all forms not that easy to search through. Something similar happens in the April 16 website, this wide net and at times lead to sources with this title: “`ì´ë¯¼ìžê°€ ì €ì§€ë¥¸ ì‚¬ê±´ ì¸ì¢…ë¬¸ì œë¡œ ë²ˆì ¸ì„ ì•ˆ ë¼.”
The same way information can rest in an archive for years before a person can find its possible value, same things can happen with digital archives. There are still many flaws that have to be addressed, specially with regards to what can and should be published. Especially when considering the effect that this born digital data has on copyrights. Born digital data can help gather information that at the time might not seem important, but can serve some future endeavor. In the end what every parent should want of their child, a bright future.
Data Visualization: Victories and Defeats
My experience with data visualization software is a complicated one. It caused my computer to crash twice, but I guess three times the charm. However, to speak, or rather write candidly I must admit that my computer, due to its age and other factors might have been at fault there. It is a complicated relationship because, in all honesty, I must admit that despite the trouble that came about, Tableau is a great tool. This is just from a novice perspective of it, as my Tableau presentation is quite simple in comparison to all that is possible with this software.
The first time you use Tableau it can be complicated. I chose to use the excel sheet because to me it seemed the less complicated. I wanted my Tableau sheet to focus on identifying different slave codes or laws regarding slavery throughout history. I wanted to create a visual map to better understand the similarities and differences of how this evolved in the world before it reaches the Caribbean and the Americas. Using the mapping feature within Tableau I was able to better present the ideas of governing slavery through the centuries. While using this data visualization software it is possible to easily interpret several aspects of the date. Although slave codes and laws are very present throughout history, their proximity when considering their introduction in the “New World” is significant. Tableau makes this information come across very easily.
I was also able to use the Timeline JS software which was also very useful. Although I feel that it can feel a bit more like fancier PowerPoint, it can still provide a very elegant and functional interactive format for presenting diverse forms of information. I presented the same information as I did in my Tableau document. When it came to Timeline it was relatively simple because I already had all the information. While Tableau did a great job at presenting the geography of my data, Timeline presented, ironically, the Timeline better. By simply adding images that either presented the code of laws or some aspect of that culture of the time, it made the data “pop.”
Both data visualization software’s are very appealing depending on the type of data of course. For the data I used, although Timeline JS does a great job Tableau provides more, but its difficult to navigate can create problems. However, for this particular information, the Map feature of Tableau is particularly helpful. It not only presents the same data that the Timeline presents it also has certain features like that map that provide a more sensory appeal.
Digitizing the Past “A Necessity in Cases we Do not Think About”
We live in a digital word is an expression used far too often, but very true. My experience with digitization has always been a very positive one. It has saved me in more cases than I can count. Digitization projects are important for several different factors that are not always taken into consideration. One mayor positive is the access that can be provided for said material post-digitation. There now possibly exist the means that can make some of that material accessible to people from different parts of the world, wether free or paying.
Cost is always an important factor when considering any point of the digitization process. The sophistication level in which digitization finds itself is at a very exciting. All this makes the cost of digitization to rise, but in many cases some incredible new ways of studying a source arrive along with it. As a person who studies history the, what can be gained from this new digitization process? will always be present. The more information you want to extract from the source, the more expensive it can be. Possibly another avenue where art history has been able to flourish in the last few years.
There is also the argument as to be made to the first-hand experience with the source and the physicality of the archive. It is the argument that also causes fear in the world of libraries when considering digitization. All these are important aspects to consider, the cost-effectiveness of it especially. However, there is another venue that must be considered and that is necessity.
Not everyone’s archive is a car ride away, or even a short plain ride away and this makes digitization very crucial. In my undergrad studying European History in Puerto Rico, I did not have physical access to a lot the documents. At times, secondary source material on specific subjects was very difficult to acquire, let alone primary source material. I became acquainted with Google Books, Gallica, Archives.org and several others. It clearly did not provide all that I needed, but they were amazing tools along the way. I was fortunate enough that these sites were available to me when I really needed them.
On that note, I would clearly like to state the importance of the physical archives. If they are available to anyone in proximity or if you have the means to go to one, it is important to go to them. The same way that if you physically search a book in the library you can look five or six book cases up or down and find books that are related to your research, much can be discovered on an archive. This might also be a bit of nostalgia on my part, but there is something gained from having the physical object in your hands. Understanding all there is to gain from the physicality of both the archive and the source material, the necessity of some researchers cannot be ignored.
In my undergraduate days, I would squeeze all I could from Google Books saved me many time. Granted it can be sometimes hard to navigate varying from computers, it has gotten a lot better. Just the sheer body of works that it has is incredible. If Google Books was my savior than Open Content Alliance was my church, of which I was present with great fervor. I have always loved the book reading format that OCA presents. It has always been a great tool, both for its visual and research component.
Given the certain areas of interest and the locations and policies of certain archives it makes the push for digitization a much needed one on many cases. When looking at Caribbean archives it is particularly interesting. The French territories, for example, have their archives within the island, but much of their historical information is in France. The Archives nationales d’outre-mer archives (ANOM), which I have previously mentioned, contains much information of the French Colonial empire. The problem is that this archive resides in in Aix-en-Provence. Good news is that some of the material in this archive is digitized. The problem is that there is a lot that is not yet digitized. Also, the functionality of this website is not great, searching for the material, is similar to going to an archive, but from the luxury of your home or office. However, because of necessity and scarcity of digital sources on the Caribbean it still feels like a gift.
This is what makes, sites like Gallica and another site that I have previously mentioned, Magnioc, are just revelations. Gallica has helped me much in the past, its ability to search through certain materials is an incredibly helpful tool. When doing a search on the Code Noir it provided me with Projet de Code noir pour les colonies françaises . Présenté à son excellence le ministre de la Marine, by Augte Billiard. The search tools within Gallica allows me to navigate through specific words, as to arrive quicker to the points which could be most pertinent to me. What little ANOM has digitized and Magnioc has on their pages are crucial because they provide the possibility of a Martinican being able to study their own past, without having to buy a plane ticket to go to Aix-en-Provence. Cost tends to be the uniting factor of consideration when thinking about the possibility for an archive to digitize and the possibility of a person to acquire that information. I will say that digitization has too many positives that are difficult to ignore, especially when considering the audience.
Website Review “Public History in the Caribbean”
Having the desire to explore Caribbean Public History I took it upon myself to explore two very different projects. One is about the second coming of Woodstock in Puerto Rico in the form of the Mar y Sol Music Festival. The other is on Guadeloupe and deals with cemeteries, heritage and memory. Given the diversity of the Caribbean I wanted to look at websites that highlight to very different subjects that might generate intrigue.
Mar Y Sol
The Mar y Sol website to me is quite a find. Established by Reniet Ramirez Rivera, this site becomes his passion project. This website chronicles an incredible music festival that took place at a beach in 1972 Manatí, Puerto Rico. A festival that received a rather strange reaction in the island. I have always loved the 1969 Woodstock Music festival. I must have been around twelve or thirteen when my brother was playing music on the car radio and he played what to me seemed like a long guitar solo. It turned out to be The Star-Spangled Banner, by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. Hendrix opened the Woodstock door for me and he let artist like Janis Joplin, The Who, Richie Havens and many others come in with him. After seeing the Academy award winning documentary on Woodstock, I was struck with all the layers behind this event. Learning that the second coming of an event that I loved so much happened in my own backyard, made me fill up with intrigue. Being the curious person that I am, the first thing I did was ask my original google source, my mother. I will never forget how she described it to me, as the “festival in Manatí that her father once drove her and her siblings to see the naked people walking around.” She proceeded to tell me how later, the “hippies” were stuck in the island and could not leave. How the Governor at the time had to “pay” for their plain tickets back home (not really true). It sounded like an adventure and I wanted to know all I could about it.
This is where the Mar y Sol Festival Website is crucial. This is a historical event that gets some distortion within the island that still needs much clarification. Reniet Ramirez began by simplycollecting everything he could find on the event and later put it online. The site serves as a way of preserving the memory of this great festival in which artist like: The Allman Brothers Band, B.B. King, Alice Cooper and many others were present. There were also several local Puerto Rican bands of the time such as Banda Del K-rajo and Fran Ferrer y Puerto Rico 2010. It is also the place where a young Billy Joel did a great rendition of The Rolling Stone’s Jumping Jack Flash the year before he made it huge with Piano Man. The Mar y Sol Websites helps tell the story of these artists as well as the people who were present. This event was not as well documented as Woodstock. This site collects the different memories of people who went and participated in the festival. This is a project collects memories in the form of, personal testaments, photographs, newspaper clippings, recording and videos to piece this great story together.
The site makes most, if not all its content available to download. I highly recommend listening to the all the recordings specially the bootleg Billy Joel recordings. The page though not as sleek or elegant as it could be, is incredibly easy to navigate. It has on the side of the main page a very simple menu that allows the user to fined what they are looking for. From photos, performances, interviews, videos, memories of people and most importantly, it has a section on false information. This part of the site deals with false information that has surfaced after the festival, such as, performances that did not take place, false posters and even videos. Reniet Ramirez does his best to search for the truth of this festival.
The website is available in both English and Spanish which is great because it really expands its audience. The project grew to the point that Ramirez was able to organize the 40th anniversary of the event. The project seems very fruitful with this addition, where photos of the reunion and a documentary is available, all in the website. This website is a great example of an ever-growing project of public history in Puerto Rico. It has links to social media, in which you can find the sites facebook page. Although it has not had much movement recently, it is still a great website that offers growing insight on this event and the people who made it possible.
Memoires de Guadeloupe
The other website I chose to look at is the Memoires de Guadeloupe. This is a very intriguing site as it has several layers to it. This site that has an elegant design and great homepage. As it states in its homepage it is the first regional and collaborative effort that works with both commentary proceedings and Heritage remembrance. Working with several cemeteries in the island of Guadeloupe it helps users find where loved ones are buried. Using a very user-friendly platform, it helps the user navigate the system and given the sensitive material, it is not present distastefully. The site permits you to do a search based on cemetery or person. It provides the GPS location of the Cemetery and, if the person is in the system, provides the area in which the deceased are buried. The site offers users the information of the people who work on the cemetery and its hours. Under the “Professionnnel” window the site provides information for funeral homes, florists and stonemasons. I feel like this is a very good addition to the site, although it only gives you location and does not provide a number in most cases. You can create an account for the site, which I did. With it you can purchase credits to buy ornaments, which I assume are for the deceased graves. This part was one that was a bit discouraging, because It forces you to buy credits, but does not say what you can buy with them unless you buy the credits.
The page has a link in the header which highlights the legal aspects of the code of local and regional authorities. One aspect I love about this page is in its aspect of heritage. It lets users who have an account the opportunity to publish information of the deceased. Information that would have been lost or glanced over in many cases. It of course requires the user to provide legal certification of death, that can be uploaded as a PDF or JPEG. This legal document is verified, but they do not publish it. This the part of the website that I enjoy the most, the site provides stories of people. The kind that would be lost were it not for projects like this. It also highlights some interesting news about the world of cemeteries. This site provides a great service to the people of Guadeloupe. It does not only provide names and news, for many it provides closure. Collecting and providing information of burial sites and even where ashes were spread. This is a great public history project that I feel is very important.
Last Thought and Sad Note
I feel as though even though both pages are very different, they both provide a great service. The best part of both these sites is that, for the most part, they are very user friendly and they are made to keep growing. They both use social media to further collect and promote new information can be added. However, the problem with this is that both sites have not had much movement in the last few years. The latest news segment in the Guadeloupe site, for example, is from 2016. However, these are still important projects that are very important and need to continue providing this information to the public. The main page of Memoires de Guadeloupe said it best on its home page: “The love for one’s roots is one of the essences of life.”
It Can Sometimes be a Complicated Relationship
In the new and expanding digital world accessibility and the experience becomes a more and more important feature. Museums are becoming part of that world through websites and more recently apps. I wanted to research an app of a Caribbean museum and it was not easy to find. I came across the app for the Puerto Rico Museum of Art (MAPR). The Museum opened its doors on June 30, 2000 and has held more than 105 exhibitions since then. It is a magnificent museum, with great permanent collections and moving exhibits. Museums and technology can sometimes have either a very happy marriage. They start out full of excitement and wonder, but you must pay attention to the big and little details. Here is where the relationship worked and when it did not work between the Puerto Rico Museum of Art and its app.
This application has several things going in its favor. It presents a somewhat sleek opening design with elegant images of the Museum and their activities. It very quickly gives the most pertinent information, the location and visiting hours. It has easy access to news of the Museum. It very easily informs the user of museum announcements, such as current and upcoming exhibitions. It has connections to social media. It allows the user to the possibility to upload photos and view videos of museum activities. It does a fine job of creating intrigue of the Museum and its collection. The problem is that is as far as this application goes.
All Honeymoons End…
Although this application is useful it is lacking in many areas. The application serves more as a placeholder for the museum’s website. There is no account for the user experience once he is inside the museum. The application serves more as general information of the museum. These applications are great opportunities for developing user friendly experiences and this application does not do that. The menu for an overview of the exhibitions is not easy to navigate. It feels more like a newspaper website than an application. The last upload of the video section is almost a year old. You can create an account, but after exploring, it does not really change much of what you can do with the app. There is a gallery button, which would be a great opportunity to add some content of the current exhibitions, but it is empty. Unclear if this is an error or if I am meant to upload photos here. The app has no identity, which does not allow it to create a connection with the user. The museum experience is one of exploration this app does little to create that crucial initial intrigue. It does not further expand the experience of the museum, but it does inform.
Counseling (We find out why)
After counseling we find out the root cause of these marital problems. The reason why the honeymoon is ending for the Puerto Rico Museum of Art and its app is largely due to funding. The last video that was uploaded was explaining the devastation after Hurricane Irma and Maria. As is the case for many great collections in the Caribbean funding is always a problem. I really hope funding does arrive for this great museum. An update on the app to enhance the user experience once inside museum itself would be a great addition.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Good the Bad and the Ugly
“Tuco: There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: Those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting.” Tuco may have been a bit severe in his assessment of people, to his credit it was the old west. Now in the 21st century there are two kinds of historical websites: Those that are evolving with the times and those that are in desperate need of a serious upgrade.
The Good – Age of Revolutions
The site ageofrevolutions.com is simply stunning. Here is a page that is not only elegant in its presentation, but incredibly rich in its material. It is an incredible resource to which new studies are added every month. It is also very much connected to several facets of social media, making it grow both in popularity and content.
The Bad (although not too bad)- Manioc
“Tuco: When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk” Be straight direct and to the point, this is what I most enjoy about the research site Manioc.org. This site shows the better aspects of primary source and secondary source historical material easily accessible. From its initial presentation the site details wide variety of search topics. Although not the most elegant of designs, I find its functionality is adequate. While encompassing a rich archive of materials from different partners, this site offers a unique source of information of the Caribbean and the French Guiana. This site becomes a compilation of great essential material that spans from maps, letters, journals and audio video presentations. All of which are easily accessible to: read, watch or download from their database. This site serves its principal mission statement of rendering accessible to the public this vast and growing heritage project.
The Ugly – ANOM
“Tuco: If you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?” More wise words from Tuco, but once again I will add a twist. If you are a website that is supposed to work to ease our living, why do you make us want to kill somebody when using your platform? This is my case with the ANOM (Archives Nationales d’Outre-mer) the site of the national archives for most of the documents of the French colonial empire. Not to speak ill of the actual valuable information contained in this site. The great material in the site is only met with the clunky manner with which to navigate the site. When searching sources, it is necessary to search tediously subfile through subfile. Essentially it is the experience of being inside a rigid archive, but from the courtesy of your own home. To some extent it would be easier to buy a ticket to Aix-Province and visit the archives personally. The experience really comes full circle when adding the very dated way to print or download the material. You are only able to download or print one page at a time. This site clearly has not been updated in many years. A statement that becomes quite clear from the moment you click enter in the search option. If this does not tip you off the general bland and non-interactive opening page will. The saddest part of this spaghetti western is the crucial importance of this site for, not only my research, but Caribbean history in general.
 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), accessed September 10, 2018, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060196/quotes.
 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).
 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).
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