Digital artifacts from archival documents really benefit scholars a lot. By making digital artifacts, tremendous data are carefully categorized, which enables people to find the data they need by simply searching the key word instead of picking up the data from libraries that contain tons of data. For example, in Lincoln at 200, facts about Lincoln and his activities are carefully divided into different parts so that readers can easily study Lincoln.
Many archival documents are the only existing copies. If they are damaged or lost, we can hardly find ones that contain the same things with the one ruined. By making digital artifacts, these archival documents are never lost and people can read them at the same time instead of going to different places, even countries, to find useful materials.
However, there are also some disadvantages in digital artifacts. Reading an archival document is different from reading a digital artifact from the internet. An archival document can help us build up a strong emotional link with what we are reading, but digital artifact cannot. During the winter break, I went to a museum in which I saw some beautiful porcelains and I made some pictures for them. But when I went back and see these porcelains. I could not experience the feeling that I had when I was in the museum.
The exhibit I create is Moravian journals. When I create my own exhibit, what challenges most is that there are several pages of journals. All of them are Moravian journals. But some of them have different route and some of them are created at different time. The scribbled note is also a problem for me, they are hard to read.
The cultural heritage is now taking digital form, whether born digital or born-again by conversion to digital from other media. The projects in the DH sample books website are categorized according to the DH methods used. From the left to right, there are seven categories: Archive, Visualization, Mapping, Digital edition, Network Analysis, Textual analysis and Audio analysis. Under different categories, each project focuses on one specific kind of information to demonstrate. Under “ Archives” category, the projects are trying to keep the originality of the data. In Old Weather website, we can see a photocopy of detailed records kept about weather in ships’ logs, which will give us the
information about climate change. In Database of Indigenous Peoples, we can see the original documents of the hand-written letter.
Our Humanities Now class is a project-based course that using digital tools and methods of analysis. Creating digital artifacts offers unique advantages. First, information and content may be delivered directly to users and can be retrieved remotely. The flexibility of the digital material is another advantage. It’s easy to edit and print the data compared to the fixed paper and printed text. Moreover, digital artifacts own the ability to provide a large number of users’ access to unique collections’ material at the same time. By allowing a wider user to view digital artifacts of primary material, the utility of the collection increased. There also are some disadvantages of digitization. You will not have sense of touch that provided by a physical archive. Also, it’s hard to get any options to start a new archive after you finish using one. However, when you go through a library, you will see lots of options in front of you.
The exhibit I created is Maps of Susquehanna. For me, the biggest challenge to build my Omeka Exhibit was to choose a topic for my exhibit. When I browsed the items and collections, there were too many data and options showing on the screen. And after I chose the topic, it’s hard but really important to keep all my data added into my exhibit focuses on one specific kind of information. Also, it’s important to make my website clear and easy for readers to read.
Following the prompt on the WordPress, I went to the DH Sample Book website, where Archive, Visualization, Mapping, Digital edition, Network analysis, Textual analysis, and Audio analysis are seven different categories the archives fall under. Under Archive, I browsed the 3 projects, the OldWeather, Lincoln at 200 and Database of Indigenous Peoples in North America.
Since digital artifacts provide a tremendous network platform. On that platform, users can easily find the information they are looking for with the help of tags and metadata. In this case, a huge database is accessible to almost every user. The internet gathered all materials which shatter all over the world on the same website. Instead of taking the 15-or-more-hour flight to see the original archive, one now only need 1 second to get all related digital archives because tags and metadata grouped them together. Furthermore, since a lot of important archives are so antiquated and fragile that they are generally inaccessible to the public. With the help of digital technology, we can get one copy version in our laptop. The digital artifact is also very important since it puts the images and context side by side to give readers a much more clear view of what is going on.
However, one disadvantage appears when we are looking at a digital document, like journals. As time passes, words on ancient archives became blurred and unrecognizable. With the pixel problems, scholars sometimes still need the actual archive for research study, although the digital version is provided online. “Old Weather” displays a photograph of a “logbook” from a ship that became trapped in ice. As the original document traced back to the late 19th century, the digital artifact gave us more difficulties to understand what it meant. A poor understanding of its meaning will directly lead to the failure of research study.
During this week, I found it is really hard to find one interesting title for my exhibit. I want to make my exhibit look colorful and attractive . In this case, I prefer to use portraits and oil paintings rather than maps and journals. However, due to the limited databases, I have to change my title frequently to make my images match the title.