What comes next?

Here at Omeka HQ, we’re in the final stretch of work on the 2.0 version of the software. We expect that the release, which will come toward the end of October, will bring a range of wonderful improvements for both end users and developers. The result will be a version of Omeka that far surpasses the original instance that we first launched in February 2008. But, even at that point, Omeka was a simple open source web publishing platform with big ambitions. During the last four and a half years, supported by the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the Library of Congress, the software has experienced extraordinary growth and refinement. Now we offer and support dozens of plugins and themes, and our work on internationalization has made it possible for users to work in over twenty languages.

While the Omeka team has concentrated on serving the basic needs of libraries, museums, archives and scholars, our users have been producing rich sites that offer access to primary materials and expert knowledge in new and interesting ways. This year alone, we’ve had over 8,000 downloads of the software from our site and that doesn’t account for the installations that are happening using the various one-click options from web hosts or are being cloned from the github repository. One look at the long list of sites in our Sites Using Omeka page will reveal both the flexibility of the platform and the creativity of our users. These sites are just a sample of the work being done with Omeka (and if you have a site that’s not on the list, by all means, add it).

The development community has built amazing extensions of the basic software, taking it beyond the use cases that we originally imagined. Cleveland State University’s Center for Public History and Digital Humanities has released the MobileHistorial/Curatescape system for doing mobile public history work. And the University of Virginia’s Scholars Lab has recently released the Neatline suite of plugins for spatial and temporal work. Omeka also plays nicely with the LOC’s Viewshare visualization tool. These extensions and integrations exemplify the ways that Omeka can serve as a platform for new interpretative work in digital humanities and cultural heritage.

We always meant for Omeka to serve a segment of the cultural heritage community that would not be developing plugins or customizing themes. One of our initial goals was to make it easier for small institutions with few employees or a dedicated group of volunteers and little in the way of technical budget to bring their materials and perspectives to a wider audience through the web. In October 2010, we launched Omeka.net to begin to serve that audience. Today we have over 5,500 users working on roughly 3,800 sites, and we’re experiencing a growth rate of around 120 sites a month.

Together the rich community that has formed around Omeka and the ways that subscribers are using Omeka.net to share their materials more than fulfills our original vision for the software. Now the question is:

What Comes Next?

Moving forward after the release of 2.0, we have three main goals for Omeka:

  1. We are committed to making cultural heritage materials and scholarship more discoverable on the open web. The Omeka Commons project will allow us to do that by offering Omeka site administrators a way to share their items at a central point of discovery. The Commons visitors will be able to search for content, share and embed those items, and also follow that content back to the originating site. Soon, we will need testers (those using Omeka 1.5 and higher) to share their materials with the alpha version of the Commons. If you’re interested in participating, drop us an email (commons@omeka.org).
  2. We will work to more fully integrate Omeka with existing GLAM and scholarly communications platforms. We firmly believe that content and data silos prevent innovation, so we are developing ways for Omeka to integrate with the places that users already create and share their work, such as YouTube, Vimeo, the Internet Archive, and institutional repositories. Also, we see linked open data as central to the larger goal of integration and we are working on ways to facilitate the linking of Omeka content.
  3. Finally, we are well aware that many open source software ventures fail because they fall on the shoulders of a single developer. After nearly five years, Omeka continues to grow and thrive, due in large part to our user and developer community. We remain committed to fostering the vibrant community that has grown up around Omeka, and we will support that community through responsive forums, easy to understand documentation, and ongoing collaboration with developers, designers, and end users. At the same time, Omeka will continue to be an essential part of our own grant-funded work at RRCHNM, assuring the software’s core development and long-term sustainability.

Stay tuned in the coming months for more news on our plans!

12 Responses to “What comes next?”

  1. Dennis

    Great news! I tried WordPress to see if it could handle my 500+ item collection. Having already used Omeka for a time, I quickly missed the detail and presentational flexibility possible with it (I was lured to to WordPress because of its more polished appearance). I have decided to use Omeka for the collection after all, and hearing this news only solidifies it.

  2. Lauren

    This is fantastic news! I hope that some of the developments will also trickle down to the Omeka.net group for those who don’t have access or availability of web servers!

  3. On Omeka 2.0 : Aaron Knoll on Technology, Education and Digital Scholarship

    [...] you’ve been working on a site using Omeka, you’ve hopefully caught wind of the new version that’s arriving rather quickly [October to be exact]. In my work with the American Social History Project/Center for Media and [...]

  4. Jen

    Fantastic. I heard about this new release during a workshop I took with Patrick Murray-John. We are using Omeka heavily at AMNH and I was wondering how many items can be stored in Omeka 2.0.

  5. digitalMETRO project powered by Omeka | Lindsay Kenderes

    [...] digitalMETRO project powered by Omeka Posted on September 30, 2012 by admin I first became aware of Omeka when Indiana University Libraries launched The War of 1812 in the Collections of the Lilly Library, a collaboration between the Digital Library Program and the Lilly Library at Indiana University, Bloomington.  The Indiana University Archives uses Omeka to create their Student Life at IU digital collection.  I wanted to read about the application of Omeka and how other institutions have used Omeak to create an online presence for their collections.  In “Using Omeka to Build Digital Colletions:  The METRO Case Study,” Jason Kucsma, Kevin Reiss and Angela Sidman wrote how the Metropolitan New York Library Council used Omeka to create the digitalMETRO project to display collections from the New York City area libraries. The Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) chose to use the Fall 2008 release of the 0.10 beta version of Omeka publishing platform to provide access to digital collections online.  Their choice resided in the fact that Omeka offered:  attractive themes, easy installation, extensible design, flexible metadata representation, support for CSS, XHTML, RSS, and an easy import and export functionality that used CSV, XML, JSON. Kucsma, Reiss and Sidman address that Omeka has two capabilities for extension: the theme and plug-in.  Omeka offers a rich variety of themes to tailor to an institution’s needs and audience, while the plug-in allows for a range of functionalities that can be used, such as Dublin Core Extender, EAD Importer and Comments, among many others.  The digitalMETRO project chose to include the following plug-ins:  Adam Output, COinS, Contribution, CSV Import, Dropbox, Exhibit Builder, Google Analytics, HTML Purifier, Lightbox2, OAI-PMH Repository, Simple Contact Form, Simple Pages, Social Bookmarking and Sort Browse Results.  Social Bookmarking is everywhere.  On any page that you have an experience with a source online, there is an option to tweet, email or facebook that source.  The project addressed that the OAI-PMH Harvester and the Geolocation plug-in, which adds information and maps to Omeka, would be of interest for libraries, archives and museums (Kucsma, Reiss & Sidman, 2010). One of the most rewarding features that Kucsma, Reiss and Sidman addressed was Omeka’s use of metadata capabilities since Omeka can support a locally defined metadata set as well as an existing metadata standard.  By having these two options offers stability for future metadata initiatives (Kucsma, Reiss & Sidman, 2010). When they added metadata to a record it was difficult to keep consistency since there was no “mechanism for populating related records with common data within the administrative interface,” which led to copying and pasting from other records (Kucsma, Reiss & Sidman, 2010).  Another limitation was the amount of scrolling that was required to navigate through the record, which created a problem when the only way to save changes to a record was by clicking the “Saves Changes” button at the bottom of the page.  Data could easily be lost if a user “accidently navigated away from the active record” (Kucsma, Reiss & Sidman, 2010).  An auto-save function may have been useful to save data entered into a record. The digitalMETRO project used the CSV-Import plug-in to import large groups of records with Omeka.  An Excel spreadsheet was used to create the needed metadata (Creator, Title, URL, etc).  By using the spreadsheet this allowed to “easily populate fields with shared data, which improved consistency within and between records and also decreased the time spent on cutting, pasting, and scrolling” (Kucsma, Reiss & Sidman, 2010). In Kucsma, Reiss and Sidman’s closing remarks about the application of Omeka for the digitalMETRO project, they state, “…Omeka is very well-positioned within its target market of small to medium-sized institutions that need an easy-to-deploy, effective, professional tool to make digital library, archival, and museum content available on the web” (Kucsma, Reiss & Sidman, 2010). The digitalMETRO project had used Fall 2008 release of the 0.10 beta version of Omeka.  In October of this 2012, Omeka 2.0 will make a debut and can be read about here at Fun New Things for Omeka 2.0 (Part 1) and Fun New Things for Omeka 2.0 (Part 2) and here at What comes next? [...]

  6. Sharon M. Leon

    @Jen, Currently the largest functioning site with Omeka that we know about is the Florida Memory Project http://www.floridamemory.com/. We don’t anticipate any decrease in capacity, but I don’t think we have seen any one site has fully tested the bounds of the software. Theoretically, millions of items are possible, as Florida Memory shows. But different sites will function in different ways, based on file types and those sorts of things.

  7. Jessica DeSpain

    Dear Sharon,
    Is there any chance I might be able to get my hands on theme documents for 2.0 early? I am trying to create a demo for a major NEH Grant deadline (December 6), and I would like to use 2.0 to avoid myself a lot of later headaches, but I am working under a tight timeline.

  8. Sharon M. Leon

    Hi Jessica,
    We don’t actually have theme documentation yet, but all of it will be created in public so that it will be available as soon as that is possible. The code is still under development and is changing frequently, but you should be able to refer to the materials on updating plugins, linked to in Patrick’s recent post. Also, you are welcome to start developing with the master branch of the code on github, with the understanding that there will continue to be frequent updates and merges going on until we get to a place where we can offer a release candidate.

  9. Yannis Papadopoulos

    Hi Sharon,
    Do you have an estimate for the release of version 2?

  10. Dennis

    Ditto :)

  11. Omeka | Teachers TechTeachers Tech

    [...] Continue reading … [...]

  12. Getty’s Contribution to Linked Open Data | The Politics of Information

    […] Omeka does not have a Linked Open Data plugin, but its developers “see linked open data as central to the larger goal of integration.” I am not to the point in my own knowledge yet to understand how this all takes place or how it can […]

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