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Content Management & Exhibits

Omeka: Digital Organization

This week’s readings and examples were on how to effectively use Omeka. Omeka provides an open-source web-publishing platform that is optimized for use by libraries, museums, and archives. In the ever increasing digital world, institutions have learned the importance of digital exhibitions that reaches a worldwide audience instead of patrons who must physically visit an exhibition.

Omeka’s use of open-source software has given an edge over the increasingly commercialized exhibits that can be used as a corporate marketing campaign instead of historical fact. The use of exclusive websites, paywalls, and other virtual forms of gatekeepers of marketable historical content has become much too common in the digital era. Omeka’s functions offer a more standardized way to give the opportunity to learn while allowing access without financial compensation on the so-called information superhighway.

Omeka’s blend of standardization, along with customization allows the creator to reach wide audiences by limiting the superficial, yet allowing a personal touch to the source material. The simple navigation allows either a direct route of a timeline according to a narrative, or a sandbox experience of allowing the audience to view the timeline according to their interpretation of the events. Additionally, the ability to create pages with content that is not overwhelming or a difficult user interface allows seamless transition through the source material. For individuals and historical organizations alike, Omeka provides a digital soapbox free of questionable influences, yet provides a revolutionary way to view history with minimal infrastructure investment in tandem with a traditional physical exhibit.

4 replies on “Omeka: Digital Organization”

I like your emphasis on how Omeka is an open source software! For all its user-friendliness and customization, I’m surprised it’s not more well known. While originally targeting small museums, historical societies, and other archival organizations with little funding, Omeka seems like a web content management system with much organizational and individual potential!

Despite the general apprehension surrounding this source, Wikipedia defines a web content management system as a website that enables users to publish and manage web content without the need for extensive technical ability. This definition is confirmed on Omeka’s Wikipedia page.

However, I haven’t seen Omeka mentioned in any ranking CMS website articles. I understand that the site is focused on collections and metadata, but to what extent and the type of digital content seems quite dynamic and applicable. For example, the Omeka that contains information on the Elizabeth Ann Parks Grinton Papers doesn’t appear to have any digital media, and the digital content merely references the Papers. In comparison, the Asheville Cartoonist features a lot of artistic content. Therefore, it seems like Omeka would at least be mentioned as a possible alternative for archival organizations and collection enthusiasts.

Going forward, I’m interested in seeing how Omeka compares as a CMS to WordPress. The user-friendly possibilities you outlined in your last paragraph definitely seem comparable to the presumably less user-friendly possibilities of WordPress.

I think the friendly UI is one of the better features of Omeka compared to other digital publishing software. It is easy for software designers to program software with feature-rich content, but one does need to consider the implications of non intuitive UI. While having a large toolbox for any publishing platform can be a boon, the end-user may not be computer savvy leading to decreased productivity while learning how to effectively use the software. As you mentioned, the Grinton Papers are not fully fleshed out which distracts from the overall source material. I believe that Omeka at this point is suffering from a lack of marketing as there is not corporate coffers to exploit it compared to the digital behemoth known as WordPress. I believe that more Omeka integration, along with social media campaigns can help improve widespread adoption of Omeka versus the competition.

I think that resources such as Omeka are invaluable for those different libraries, archives and museums that have a rich history, but may not have the funding to draw in a lot of people. It seems to be a really cool way of bring history to people, which aids in access.

I agree that Omeka is important, especially because it is free and non-profits do not always have money to spend on online exhibits. I also agree that Omeka can be used to mirror museum exhibits currently in the museum. However, museums have so many artifacts that only a small percentage of the artifacts they own can be displayed at one time. Omeka could be a way for museums to display, and educate the public on, artifacts not on display at the museum.

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