Practicum Reflection Week 5

Editing Wikipedia and Transcribing Papers of the War Department

Editing Wikipedia and transcribing papers of the war department gave me more appreciation for both of these sites.  The act of changing an entry on Wikipedia really shows that it is a crowdsourcing effort and anybody can edit its content.  Editing Wikipedia was hard because, as Rosenzweig said, the writing is poor.  It is also not your own writing so it is hard to fit your writing in with all the other text that came from other people.  It is also tough to tell where to include information because sometimes the article is not set up in the most coherent manner.  It was also challenging to write because it is talking about the past in a different way than historians usually write.  Wikipedia writers try to write just the facts whereas historians usually try to use facts to support their overall thesis.

The Preservation Society of Newport County: Newport Mansions

http://www.newportmansions.org/learn/the-gilded-age-revisited

Strengths

  • Very engaging homepage with a huge picture of a Newport Mansion with the main headings at the top of the page.  The visitor is not overwhelmed with information but they receive a general picture of what is on the site.
  • Excellent use of several different colors that are not distracting when one is trying to read the text.
  • The IA is very well organized.  There are headings at the top of the page and when one clicks on those there is a bar at the left hand side that gives you the subheadings within this broad category.  This gives the visitor a good orientation as to what part of the website they are in.
  • There is also a search bar for quick searching.
  • A printer friendly button is included, which helps printing and is probably also helpful for people with disabilities.

Weaknesses

  • The bar at the top of the page is helpful but there are 9 buttons on this bar.  They may want to cut down on the number of items to make the site more focused.
  • The site is not very interactive.  There are very little links or pictures and no maps.  In addition, the few pictures that are on the site are static so the visitor cannot zoom in on them.
  • The site is run by a preservation organization so there are many areas geared to selling items or tours.  This distracts from the content of the site at times.
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