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.

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