The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Please Feed the Visitors!
Update: You can read a follow-up post about the Anthologize project and process here.
As Head of Web & New Media, I'm always looking for ways we can engage visitors with our papers, photographs, film, and other intriguing items that make up the Smithsonian Archives. We've experimented with sending our collections out to big online communities, like the Flickr Commons, and we'll be working with another partner in the near future to do the same (announcement forthcoming). As I was searching out new outreach ideas, I saw a blog post about OneWeek | One Tool, a summer institute which brings together 12 people with diverse backgrounds, to build an open-source tool for humanities scholarship in a week. Or, as we were directed on our first day with Tom Scheinfeldt, Managing Director of the Center for History and New Media; build something useful. I applied, was accepted, and just came back yesterday from what I fondly refer to as “developer camp." I have that same lovely, ethereal feeling as one does when coming back from summer camp; a sense that my horizons expanded and I just may have grown a little wiser.
I will get into “what I learned this summer” in my next post, but today, I have the giddy pleasure of announcing what we referred to as “the tool,” Anthologize. Anthologize was hidden in a cloak of mystery, so it's even more delicious to make this announcement. Anthologize is a WordPress plugin that allows you to collect RSS feeds of blog posts, pictures, comments, etc (really any RSS feed), compile them into a single work, edit, amplify, and publish out as an eBook, PDF for print publishing, and TEI (an open XML format for storage and exchange). You can learn more about it here.
During the approximately 6 days we were together, one day was spent brainstorming and honing our ideas for the "tool." We ended up with five final ideas, all of which had compelling applications. Alas, we went with a blog to book tool, Anthologize, which I can imagine using in so many ways at the Smithsonian alone. You can see some of the ideas we came up with here, which run the gamut; from an academic scholar who wants to publish an anthology of her blog posts to a jewelry maker who wants to publish a catalog of his work. For the Archives, as we start publishing more “how to” posts, I could see us publishing a guide to caring for your home archives, or a compilation of some of the fun stories from the archives. I really do think that Anthologize will help us connect our collections and staff expertise to an even wider group of people who will be able to use them.
Enough about us. We'd like to hear about the anthologies you might make. Add a comment here or on the Anthologize website.