Digital Archives and issues of Digitization

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So for this blog we had to read two chapters in our online textbook, read these two web pages, and pick two digital archive websites to look at.  Chapter 3 in the textbook had some interesting information in it. I had not yet considered the economics behind starting digital archives.  I think this is because we have received our website for free (thanks UNCA!) But I do understand when the chapter talks about the work involved in digitization.  Their is a lot to do, even if it is a small archive.  Just putting the data in is hard, but you also have to consider things such as your audience and the websites set up and ease of use.  This was reiterated when I reviewed two of the websites listed.  I looked into Criminal Intent and Famous Trials.  When I played around with Famous Trials I was impressed.  I loved the set up of this site.  It has a great home page that is not too busy, and it was super easy to use.  Their was a wealth of info that was easy to access.  But the Criminal Intent website I did not like.  Its format and purpose was quiet confusing to me.  I did not understand how to use it after a few minutes and I gave up.  I would be upset if my digital archive was set up like this.  It needs to be easier to use.  If I had to create a digital archive I would want it to be fairly straight forward and easy to use.  This way it would not only be useful to digital history types, but to all sorts of scholars.

One issue to consider with digitization is data.  You can either digitize everything, or pick and choose, which is hard to do.  That has been one of our problems with the MDFF project.  We still need to lessen what all we digitize because we just do not have the time to digitize everything that we would like.  You want to have good strong information, but you also don’t want to overwhelm with the more mundane bits or the website will be less appealing to an audience.  One thing chapter 3 discusses is the cost of digitizing as a negative when digitizing.  Unfortunately this is hard for me to comprehend because I have been provided all of my tools free of charge.  But I do appreciate that this comes into play.  I did find it amusing that their was a section devoted to outsourcing the work.  I understand now how some of these bigger archives get things digitized, they get help.  It can be tedious doing what we are doing, and sometimes overwhelming.  So much information and you are in charge of picking and choosing what is needed most.  It is fun and rewarding, but it does feel like a big responsibility.

Digital archives can be a rich source for finding information, but they can also have problems.  Not everything is necessarily digitized on every subject.  But what is there can be more accessible.  Like the readings say, you don’t have to travel to obtain the information you need, as long as it is digitized and as long as you can find it.  Which is a problem as well, but that is a problem no matter if the info is digitized or not.

 

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