In this week’s blog we will be talking about Omeka. And by Omeka I mean the webplatform . Omeka is a website used to host online exhibits and other digital archives. Basically Omeka is a tool used by site programmers to help develop these types of historical sites.
Two such sites that use Omeka are George Washington University’s “Begun in War, Built in Peace” site on U.S.-Kuwaiti relationships and Trinity College’s (in Dublin, not the Trinity University in Connecticut) site on Gothic Architecture, called Gothic Past. The two sites are quite different, obviously they have very different subjects. Their layouts are also rather different. Out of the two sites, Gothic Past has a much more dynamic and flashy layout to it. On top of the site is a big picture of various Gothic architecture and sculpture (mainly Irish churches) which changes every few seconds into another picture. The right side of the webpage has a “tag cloud” with different “tags” showing up in different sizes to depict how frequent each “tag” is. The main page contains a small about section, with a link that can be clicked on to go to an about page with more information, as well as a prominent display of images and text about the site’s featured exhibit and featured collection. The homepage also has a list of some recent items with a small image and a text blurb and a link to each item’s own little section of the site. Overall this website gives the impression of being update and modified fairly often and of being run by more than one person.
George Washington University’s “Begun in War, Built in Peace” site gives a more static, “web 1.0” feel (which is not always a bad thing, sometimes I like a small site that can be read relatively quickly and revisited from time to time at a leisurely pace). It seems to me that this site is probably updated less frequently if at all. And in fact, using the Internet Archive’s “Way Back Machine”, you see that the site looked the same on March 3, 2011 (this is the earliest version of the site available of the Way Back Machine) as it does today. The site’s homepage has a brief overview giving a really short history of Kuwait, the Gulf War and the role GWU alumni and faculty such played in this “geostrategic drama”. From this homepage all the sections of the site can be accessed by clicking on the big rectangular link with a picture and a title that each section has on the homepage. Each of these sections are relatively short, comprising only a few paragraphs (and of course including pictures), requiring only a little, if any, scrolling. This site is pretty enjoyable and it is actually quite feasible to read the whole thing in one day (and not have to worry about if you miss any new things if you leave the site alone for a while). A last little feature that the site has is a button with a picture of a Kuwaiti flag and some Arabic writing next to the flag, that when clicked goes to the Arabic version of the site’s homepage, which has the same layout as the English version and the same sections (only now these sections are in Arabic), though the pictures are on the opposite side of the screen on the Arabic version than they are on the English version (I’m guessing the text on both versions is the same when translated, but I don’t know Arabic so I’ll just have to guess that if the pictures are the same so is the text).
The differences between these two sites is important (though it is not why I chose these two sites for the blog, I chose these sites because I found the topics interesting). The fact that both of these sites both utilize Omeka shows the platform’s versatility. Not all Omeka sites have to look the same. There is plenty of room for creativity. This is one of the key strengths of Omeka.