The Lost Museum was very interesting. I mean, who wouldn’t like a chance to travel back and in time and visit Barnum’s American Museum? It also has a rich stock of primary documents and scholarly essays that students can access, while feeling a bit like they are playing a video game. That said, it is also daunting to think how long it took them to complete the project (8 years!) and how many different teams of historians, art directors, and techie folk worked on this project. It does support a point made during last week’s PhD Colloquium. Lincoln Mullen, reminded us all how important it is for historians to reach out to other disciplines to collaborate on digital projects. It often allows the historian to use new tools in interesting ways, while the geologists or IT faculty member has real data to test their theories.
Jason Brown’s paper on how the Lost Museum was created was also a cautionary tale in public history. First, most historians will not make a fortune creating that perfect history app (although maybe a great PlayStation game could do it!). Second, his discussion of the challenges of creating online learning objects is a reminder of how difficult it can be to leave room for critical thinking. You want to present the material, provide the history, but still allow the student to have moments to think critically on his or her own. You want to create that eighteenth-century curio cabinet, stay present to explain the history behind the objects, but still let the viewer/participant make the linkage – such a hard thing to do. I think they were very successful in creating that feel – but I can still see student passively playing the game and ignoring those “linkage” moments!
I’m still contemplating whether I would use a poll or survey in my website. Not only am I unsure what subject or question I would “poll” but whether I want the burden of curating the poll on a regular basis. Something more to mull over as I work on my site!
This week I made a radical change in my project. I realized I had a more recent paper that was full of images sitting on a shelf that was made for a digital project. So I said goodbye to the Skipwith family and hello to the Spanish Flu! I redesigned my website (I’m slowly beginning to understand the logic of Dreamweaver, although I still have some glitches I can’t seem to correct!) and am working hard on cleaning up my many images! Here is an example of my latest cropping, coloring, and vignetting:
I may be getting addicted to this! Is there a 12-step program for this?
I commented on Jenna’s Page this week!