After Temple’s DSC Omeka workshop, I wanted to take this opportunity to share my previous work with Omeka, discuss some questions regarding online exhibition practices, and foresee the possibilities of Omeka’s Neatline app for my dissertation project.
Previous Omeka Work
My first introduction to Omeka was in the Digital History class here at Temple. I used the platform to exhibit my research to understand the dramatic rise and spread of the Dresden-based anti-immigrant group Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident (PEGIDA). Why PEGIDA? Why at that moment in time? And why in Dresden? While developing a CartoDB map was the main focus of my project, I used the Omeka site to create an exhibit entitled “PEGIDA and Nazi Memories” to explore the similarities in this group’s development, as explained through tweets, with the rise of Nazism, which relied on historical materials from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Online Exhibition Practices
Beyond aesthetic quibbles, I didn’t encounter any Omeka-specific limitations. That said many of my content decisions were shaped by the fear of violating copyright. The inclusion of contemporary artifacts—e.g., a collection of images, articles, and video from various news sources—would have been a welcome addition to my exhibit. However, determining where the line of fair use ends and copyright violation begins is a difficult task, and it seems particularly difficult when dealing with contemporary topics. So I put this question to all of you: what is the best strategy for dealing with the exhibition of contemporary (read: copyrighted) material that doesn’t sacrifice intellectual exploration?
Moving forward, I’m most interested in exploring the possible applications of Omega’s Neatline plugin for my own work. I explored the demos offered by the site and was really struck by the Black Liberation 1969 Archive’s use of documents and narratives oriented in space to tell the story of the 1969 sit-ins at Swarthmore. Other examples can be found here. From these demos, it seems Neatline is Omeka’s version of CartoDB’s Odyssey in that it allows online content creators to tell stories with maps and timelines—to tie narratives to places, an important connection for my social memory work.