Fits and Starts and Technology

The DMCI project has been moving in fits and starts. The initial idea was accepted,  I explored technology, focused an idea, realized technology we planned on using probably isn’t going to work, started rethinking whole approach. I know this is all part of the process, but it feels like I’m back at square one.

After OpenExhibits underwent its merger it seems like the product has been left to flounder. It is now freely available to everyone, but the website is still glitchy and there is minimal support. So, we have started rethinking what we are going to use to do the digital gallery displays. With this rethinking of the technology comes the rethinking of the content. In many ways what you use to create a project dictates what you say, the medium changes the message. So, here I am rethinking (once again) how I am going to approach this project. To me, Open Exhibits, was very much focused on being a container for a bunch of items to interact with, whether it was maps, images, or sound (at least at the very basic authorship levels). This approach can be useful in some settings, but with what we wanted to do I couldn’t seem to make the pieces fit inside the box. Now, that we are looking elsewhere to present the content I am more open to reconsider the narrative I want to tell. In fact, now I feel like I can tell a story rather than just give people a bunch of artifacts to touch and and fling around a touch screen.

So, the search continues for the technology that doesn’t require a huge learning curve, but is still powerful enough that we can build something that we can show-off in the Digital Galleries in the ITCC. As I was discussing this search with our assistant systems librarian, Katherine, she mentioned a tool called Zeega and a journal called Sensate Journal that features some projects the used Zeega. This one, “Hearing the Hills: An Acoustic Encounter with South Dakota’s Black Hills” not only tells a narrative, but has multiple threads you can explore while you go through. This example made the cogs in my head start moving. This was what I really wanted to do with the project. Have a semi-guided tour through a narrative that allowed the viewer some agency, but in the end moved them in a direction that I wanted them to head. I spent the better part of this morning looking at various different story-telling like websites. Shout out to 50 Ways to Tell a Story that also provided me some inspiration as I looked at through the different examples.

Another component of this is the digital galleries are touch screens and until we get the physical computers here it will be hard to test out usability. Can we build a website in something like WordPress and have it be useable via touch? So, we are playing the waiting game on that too.

I’m no closer to an end product, but it has been good to work through a lot of these issues and I am thankful for my colleagues here in the Library and around University for helping me think this through. More to come on this adventure to get something ready for the digital gallery.







One thought on “Fits and Starts and Technology

  1. So glad you blogged about this! Circumstances that get us to change direction are crucial to reflect upon. Zeega looks interesting, though I wonder about its proprietary-ness. We (DTLT or others) so need to build this with HTML5. Need to look into this more.

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