This week, we got to start playing with Omeka. It reminded me a lot of our Drupal unit. The themes and plugins seemed very similarly structured. A little searching dug up this post in which an Omeka developer commented that the code bases are structured very differently, but from an initial user perspective, it had a similar front-end feel.
I think that approachable feel is really important. For example, although we didn’t look at Joomla or WordPress in this class, making the experience easy and visually appealing is part of why those tools are so successful. One thing I’ve noticed in comparing the different platforms in this class is that things that are visually appealing and approachable on the back end tend to be so on the front end when implemented, too. Okay, that wasn’t the greatest sentence in the world, but hopefully you’ll get what I mean: something like Drupal that has a really slick, intuitive, and approachable interface just tends to power better sites than something old and clunky-feeling like DSpace.
This week’s blog discussion is about cataloging. I admit, cataloging is not something that I find incredibly appealing. As I mentioned in this week’s discussion, there are a lot of issues inherent to judging, placing, and describing anything, as well as deciding where it fits in a larger collection, and it’s very hard for the person creating a single record to have enough perspective to make it fit into the big picture, or be the right choice in hindsight. For example, early on in this class, we read Clay Shirky’s famous essay, Ontology is Overrated. It discussed the perils of classification, and gave an example of the religious bias inherent in the Dewey’s system, in which Christianity dominates nearly the entire section, leaving a few meager subheadings for “Other religions”:
Dewey, 200: Religion
210 Natural theology
230 Christian theology
240 Christian moral & devotional theology
250 Christian orders & local church
260 Christian social theology
270 Christian church history
280 Christian sects & denominations
290 Other religions
Another example that a coworker gave me was of a colleague who looked up “interrracial” in the LCSH and was disturbed to find out which sections were next to it: incest and insanity.
So, bringing this post back to my collection, I have felt quite tentative and experimental in my categorization of my small collection. After trying LC for this week’s EPrints assignment, I rather wish I’d picked out LCSH terms all along, instead of using rather vague DC. On the other hand, outside the library world, LC is less meaningful, so perhaps from an interoperability standpoint, DC is better, it’s just a question of more complete and more accurate DC metadata?
So this post is for the first week of our two-week EPrints assignment. The install was very simple, since all we had to do was add a few lines to our Ubuntu server’s repo list after we got a new VM up and running. My only hangup was that I accidentally typed “y” instead of “Yes” at one point during the installation, as the instructions specifically said not to do (oops). I wasn’t sure if that was a big deal or not, so since it was so easy, I just started over and everything was successful the second go-round.
As far as customization, I put a silly custom logo up and changed the blurb to describe my project. Good thing I had my classmates’ blogs to see where I was going wrong with the site logo thing (it was a .png and not a .gif, and there was a little typo in the instructions that had to be corrected). But otherwise, smooth sailing so far, and I’m looking forward to getting my little collection started!
This week has been a bit gentler-paced, which I appreciated! I enjoyed using Drupal to enter my initial items in my digital collection. I found it to be pretty similar to what I did last week. Although one of my classmates found it too “bloggy” for her collection, I actually find my particular collection (my personal writing files) to be well-suited to a blog format. Since I had just been using a (different) WordPress blog for (some) of those files in the past, categorizing them and deciding where different items fit on the taxonomy wasn’t too hard of a task. I could see it being more difficult with multiple users, though. On the other hand, the nice thing about Drupal is that even if users disagreed on, say, where certain content should be located on the site, it is possible to just have the same information show up in multiple places at once, and there’s only one version that can get edited and updated as needed. That seems to be a big problem with large sites — too many things are in multiple places, and when something gets changed in one place, whoever’s updating that content in that place might not even know about the other place.
The only thing that was a bit tedious was, again, because there’s a lot of information that seems redundant to me since it’s just my stuff (like putting my name as author over and over again). But as we’ve been learning in the management readings, doing the bare minimum of metadata on a collection makes it less interoperable with other collections, so there is a fair amount of data entry work. Another thing I really like about Drupal is that someone without any web design background can do this work: it is very successful in divorcing the form from the content. It also has mechanisms to allow review by someone who’s in charge of content before new content goes live, gets deleted, etc., which again are a bit redundant when it’s just me working with my own stuff, but is definitely a useful feature in the real world.