Timelines and Mapping Software

For my testing out of the tools introduced to us during Wednesday’s class, I focused on Timeline JS and StoryMap JS. Both were easy to use and manipulate, and I decided to create them around the theme of the French Revolution, just to get the hang of entering in the information and utilizing the tools.

My biggest concern with using StoryMap JS, or the other tools that utilize points upon a map, is that our project’s focus is on the Agudas Israel Synagogue – a fixed location. Although we could pinpoint various businesses and residences of the families and members back in the 1920s and 30s, I worry that many events will just be at the Synagogue’s location. StoryMap JS seems to be a tool that’s better suited to traveling events, or events in history that don’t utilize the same locations very often. The only example I really think that would benefit from StoryMap JS, in the project, would be tracing the travels of the earliest Jewish families to Hendersonville.

For Timeline JS, however, this seems to be a tool that can be used for many different projects, since it’s simply showing chronological events. I think Timeline JS could be used for our project, perhaps in application for the history of raising funds to build the Synagogue and perhaps the future remodeling for the more personalized religious space. However, even if these events aren’t what we choose to use Timeline JS for, I see no reason for the tool to be left out of the website.

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Resources and Research Direction

I was quite impressed with all the tools and resources that were available to us for our websites, especially plug-ins that we can work on ourselves. None of them seem to be overly complex to use and work with, which is relieving. I’m not much of a tech wizard, but I think using these things won’t be too hard at all.

Additionally, I’m excited to meet back up with the team from the Computer Science class, as I think we know what sort of research direction we’re going to be taking. I feel a lot better giving the guys specific ideas rather than just saying that “research takes time, and time is what we need more of”. Researching on Wednesday really illuminated the path for us, I would like to believe.

Although there are a ton of resources there, I think we would like to focus on the earliest years/decades of the Agudas Israel Congregation and Synagogue, from the families and committees even before the Synagogue was created until the Synagogue’s life after a couple decades. We already have a couple interesting angles to go about telling this story, and I think the guys from the Computer Science class will be pleased to have a couple specific family names and narratives for them to think about when constructing an interactive for the website later on in the semester.

Historical Website Layouts

While poking around on a couple of the websites, I noticed that a couple of the websites – perhaps depending on the age of the websites – had layouts that were tricky to look at and maneuver.

I had used the French Revolution website before in the class with Dr. Rizzo, but I still find it strange to maneuver. There are pages upon pages of images and documents, which I don’t find to be the best way to truly organize these things – but it’s certainly not the worst way to do it. I’m thinking that the website is just older, which explains the layout and the less user-friendly layout.

However, my true issue is with the layout of the Great Molasses Flood website. Perhaps I’m just unfamiliar with the tools that this website works with, but I found it incredibly difficult to use. There are some links to click on, but the newspaper image likes to get bigger and smaller upon any sort of maneuvering and it’s quite frustrating.

With the Century America websites, I think this is more towards how I want to set up the website for the Agudas Israel Synagogue historical narrative. These seem newer and much more user friendly. Maybe some of the tools from the Omeka websites can be plugged into the WordPress website, but I’m not sure about it as a stand-alone website.

Concerning Representation

Although I think that the process for setting up our groups and our initial instructions has been going smoothly so far, I can’t help but continue to think back to our class activities on Friday.

Introducing our pitches for our projects was difficult enough without the proper “dating” time with our respective collections, but, it was quite fun to sit down and chat with the groups and brainstorm some interactive ideas. However, Dr. Cameron said something that really resonated with me, and leads me to this concern:

Should we consult with the Jewish community at the Agudas Israel Synagogue in order to gage how they would like to be represented? 

It think it would benefit more than it would hurt,even if we are dealing with a project that will likely be focusing on the early 20th Century portion of the Synagogue’s life. I’m confident that constructing a historical website won’t be too difficult with the resources collected by the Special Collections at Ramsey Library, but, representation is important to remember.

We’re dealing with a Synagogue that has likely gone through many changes between it’s creation in the 1920s to the present day; and, although it would be simpler to jumpstart the process and go off of the archive’s records, especially since genuine oral histories have been recorded and stored at UNCA, the history of the Synagogue is not within a vacuum of it’s own. The Jewish community likely faced discrimination of its own within Western North Carolina, and that needs to be kept in mind.

I’m thinking that my group and I should put in more personal research with the collection itself, which we may be able to do on Friday with the Computer Science group(s), and then consult with the leaders of the Synagogue before we get too far along with our websites.

Maybe they could also show us some valuable resources that may not be found in the collections?