Sunday, October 2, 2011

Building History Websites

Considering the focus of the chapter and the developments in digital processes to bring history to the web, I can see how fast things change. Server capabilities are beyond my professional experience but I can understand the necessity and limitations of using OCR for reading digital texts. The good thing is that the software necessary for converting scanned documents and even images of texts to readable -- and searchable -- text has been integrated into most scanning equipment.

The domain name and redirects to a stable URL are things I'm familiar with but have a hard time balancing. Coming up with a simple and clever domain name only to discover it's already in use. Using an obvious domain name -- and hopefully keeping it registered -- to have it point to a changing URL I have no control over. The creative side of my wants the end product to reveal what its own name should be based on a recurring theme and strong consistent content. But that's not always an option so with this blog name, I took the easy way out.

The project I'm leaning toward is a site that compiles information on online resources for Northern Virginia history. I would love to have something with an advanced search that would point to users to specific sources so they wouldn't have to visit each site and sift through the information to see if it would be useful. But even a basic page with a description of another site's content and collection could be helpful. From my experience doing research, I've found that searching for one key word or subject may be efficient but also limiting. While scanning what a collection holds, I get ideas for other ways and materials I would not have otherwise considered.

I'm a huge photo freak so I would love to find an effective way to incorporate a powerful photo from a collection or repository to represent the entire collection that site offers. This could be flexible, too, with a historic photo or an image of a history record. For example, the online collection of Alexandria property records from the Alexandria Library could be represented by a photograph from the property appraisal card or the card itself, like these images of a home documented in the early 1970s.

The property is 514 Crown View Drive which was built in the early 1950s for a young Congressman and his wife. It became more historically significant when the resident became President in the summer of 1974.

I don't think I could find such a compelling photo for every collection but I think a strong, represntative image is important.

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