This week we experimented with a another tool which is useful in the creation of digital exhibits, Omeka. I’ve heard from previous art history graduate students that Omeka can be tricky to work with, however, the feedback from this class seems to imply that many thought this tool much easier to work with (at least for our initial exercise). If pressed, I guess I could agree, though my experience still included errors and frustration, though they turned out to be some tiny path I needed to fix in order to get my photo thumbnails to show up. In the end I had to go through the exercise three times to finally get it right, and even now it is barebones and nothing fancy (see exhibits.nicolegrewell.com)
In pairing with our theme of exhibits, we read and discussed articles on copyright and open access. The world of copyright seems straightforward and yet confusing at the the same time. Understanding the basics of copyright is clearly pertinent to our work as digital humanists, understanding that self-publishing anything on the internet is still publishing, and therefore one needs a working understanding of the laws.
Open access is the idea that research articles should be free to anyone to further research opportunities for all. Open access means that publications are available for researchers to glean from without having to go through paywalls. Currently, major publications charge hefty fees (to the tune of thousands, to even millions of dollars for conglomerate publishers) to libraries in order for them to have access to their journals. Of course, academic libraries need these to support the research that is done by the experts that are employed there, and so libraries are forced to pony up. Many have argued that this the prices are extortionary, and academic research for the betterment of humanity should be free and available to all. However, just because we think something ought to be free means that we can make it so with a snap of the fingers. Clearly the revenue streams created by these near-monopolies are being demanded by these publication houses. If critics want to think through open access, there needs to also be an attempt to address gatekeeping of information to ensure quality of research. That’s not saying it can’t be done in a different way, but it absolutely must be addressed.