What is the best example of public history? One that utilizes crowdsourcing to its full extent to preserve and present history. Three sties below are great public history community that collect, preserve and present history with public contributions.
They are not perfect. Crowdsourcing has its flaws; just ask WIKIPEDIA! we will examine each sites and evaluate.
The September 11 Digital Archive
Remember 9/11? If not, check this out. CLICK
Hope that cleared your memory. 9/11 digital archive is the most informative and largest content preserving site out of the three musketeers. Unlike the other two, its’ FAQS connect links to major online news sites, such as, CNN, BBC, and New York Times for chronology and timeline of the attack. It doesn’t assume users’ knowledge of the event. Users are well informed about what the site is about.
Most organized website ever? Probably not. Most organized out of the three? It sure is. Under collection, categories are visibly appealing to help navigation faster. Titles and descriptions are easy to locate and read. Most importantly, diverse metadata is offered for every collection without glaring at the screen to find the appropriate data. Thank goodness the web designers were passive with colouring and underlining. Aesthetics are important.
Featuring function was my personal favourite. I was looking for official government related documents of 9/11. Since crowdsourcing’s major problem is presumed as validity of information and organization, I didn’t know where to start. Featuring became my best friend. FDNY Incident Actions Plans (click title), and Michael Ragsdale Flyer Collection received spotlight on the main page. They were featured for users to better understand the day to day work of various groups, and social and political transitions taking place during and after the event.
However, the site deserves some criticism. It provides diverse metadata terms, but without actual content. Many of them were unknown (click). Lack of effort or lack of data, is not sure.
What about the accuracy of posted contents`? Are they reliable? This is not a big concern. If an anonymous person uploads a fake story, people might question the site’s reliability; 9/11’s tragedy and impact on american people, however, will not change. George Bush ministration conspiracy theory is one thing, but exaggerating a personal story of 9/11 will only develop more empathy for the community. Digital vandalism, some calls it; fake uploads have small chance of ever appearing on such american and patriarchic archive.
Personal account stories, combined with posts about how 9/11 will be remembered personally, transformed the site into a relatable community for Americans. This is crucial to sustain participation. The archive has found a home, representing not only the historical event of 9/11, but the people involved.
Hurricane Digital Memory Bank and Occupy Archive
Allow me to become a poet.
Amazed at 9/11 archive.
So easy and it looks tight.
Hurricane and Occupy, left me to ponder.
And I walked with confidence,
Far away from the stinkers.
Ok, maybe, stinker was a little harsh. Honestly, I couldn’t find a good rhyme. Anyhow, Hurricane Digital Memory Bank (here on, HDMB) and Occupy Archives (here on, OA) weren’t my favourites. One, they were difficult to navigate. Two, OA’s multiple posts had same red headings but different content; this was confusing. Finally, aesthetics. Is it just me or emphasis on the colour red brings up totalitarian government images in my head. The keyboard warrior within me was uncomfortable.
9/11 Archive felt easy. The main reason was FAQS’s chronological breakdown, catered for those with limited knowledge of the event. However, history online is supposed to be about breaking linear barriers that plagued history for so long. User participation and to “DO” history are key elements in constructing successful public history. In that perspective, HDMB and OA weren’t terrible.
HDMB, the on going archive of hurricane Katrina and Rita, offered a relief vibe. Collections and posts focused on the aftermath and recovery of the victims. For example, reconstructed houses, making a new best friend on evacuation, and opening new businesses for the better. Out of the three, HDMB is the least prone to ever modify its purity. The site is simply about the natural disaster and its victims. No political controversy or activists involved. It’s a place to share and rehab. Most importantly, lot of pictures!
OA, not just an archive, but an arbiter for the occupy movement, had consistent metadata content compared to 9/11 archive’s unknowns.
No, I’m not talking about you, Unknown
Although subjects and tags included too many, its controlled vocabulary meant better categorization. Tags were available before clicking into posts; 9/11 archive, on the other hand, required deeper navigation for tags.
I question OA’s lasting purity. Occupy movements are to influence better economic distribution. In their perspective, the greatest evil is the government. Such phenomenon to occupy has a probability of turning into an institution with specific political intent. We’ve all heard stories of passionate protestors that fought against the government, and entered politics with gained renown. Of course, this is far fetched. THIS PICTURE of Stephanie Keith shows their perspective and story; was she really man handled?
Overall, I was satisfied with the three musketeers; great public history sites that allow participants to alter and add digital history. Unlike analog history, contributions are constant. Like gravity, we history enthusiasts are pulled in, creating a community platforms that preserve, present, and produce history.