Confession: There was a moment on 7/11/14 when I felt like I was drinking from the firehose. While the embedded video below doesn’t entirely capture the feeling, it does allow me to showcase my newfound digital abilities:
I left today’s institute meeting feeling like a giddy child, one who has boxes of chocolates and sugary candies and who doesn’t even know where to begin delighting in the sugary sweetness. After learning about Scalar, Omeka, and Drupal Gardens yesterday, I woke this morning hoping we’d have time to explore them further. The day turned out so much better than I imagined, as we discovered numerous tools to annotate images and videos. Thinglink became my new favorite tool (scroll over the images here). I enjoy annotating images, especially those that are unfamiliar to students (e.g., the Aztec “Calendar Stone”).
I’ve always done it in Photoshop or some other image editing software, where I draw arrows and include text, but it is always somewhat messy. Thinglink allowed me to annotate with not only text, but also links and videos. And it was easy to use. Come Fall semester, I will use this in my classes and ask students to annotate images. It will be a wonderful way to encourage close looking at images, even if it is a different type of close looking than we might normally expect. I know that I will also employ this tool for my project on Mexican deathways for the same reason that I will use it with students. I can embed these annotated images into my websites as well. For all these reasons, Thinglink ranks as my number one tool of the day.
We also explored Animoto. I must confess that I am normally dismissive of videos made from powerpoints or the like–I find them distracting. Yet Animoto has potential for both my teaching and project on Mexican deathways, particularly because it limits text, focuses on the visual, and displays a clean finished product.
Learning to annotate in Youtube was also wonderful. I feel sheepish that I didn’t know how to to this before today. And what wonderful possibilities it has. I can also download (for free) my Animoto videos and then upload them to my Youtube channel.
Surprisingly, by 4 PM I felt energized and ready to keep exploring all these new tools. They were all simple enough to guide students and colleagues who might want to use digital tools for their own projects or research.
A final note about today’s learning: the new Omeka 2.2 platform that we installed is much better than the earlier version I used yesterday. With a few changes to the hex color codes and a header image, I had a decent looking website in a couple of minutes vs. the earlier version. I plan to use this new version for the deathways project. In particular, it will work well to create exhibitions of objects.
Resources at Brooklyn College and CUNY
There are a few helpful resources at Brooklyn College beyond Artstor, WorldCat, etc. I found some excellent resources on fair use, as well as some individuals who might be willing to help me get clearances. Within the CUNY system, I imagine the CUNY Commons will be useful for making connections with people interested in digital humanities and digital art history, finding different platforms (or at least others who use them), and experimenting with other platforms and tools. I also discovered that Brooklyn College has a list of OERs that could aid my project. I didn’t find anything about specific CMS platforms, but it is possible that this information is not well represented online. I’ve no doubt that CUNY Graduate Center has amazing resources for those interested in digital humanities. Now I just need to find and access them.by