Archive for the ‘Omeka Commons’ Category

What comes next?

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

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!

Omeka’s Future: New Grants and New Features

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Occasionally, interested individuals ask the Omeka team about the future and outlook of the project. Without quoting Timbuk3, I say that we are pleased with what lies ahead.

The Omeka project completed its three-year Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant in December 2010 (read the final report)and continues to move forward and grow. Since its public launch in 2008, Omeka exceeded all of our expectations in its growth and adoption by institutions of all sizes, individual scholars, educators, and enthusiasts. We have fostered a strong open source community that continues to thrive. CHNM is committed to supporting this community and its software, which we ourselves use for many of our in-house digital cultural heritage projects. Development of Omeka proceeds towards a version 2.0., and work continues with Omeka.net as well, as the development team makes additional plugins available for the hosted service.

As you may have read last week, we are especially pleased to be working with the University of Virginia’s Scholars’ Lab with funding from the Library of Congress over two years to fund a collaborative “Omeka + Neatline” initiative. The project’s goal is to enable scholars, students, and library and museum professionals to create geospatial and temporal visualizations of archival collections using a Neatline toolset within Omeka. Results from this project feed directly into Omeka to include regular point releases, improved documentation, development community support, user studies, key enhancements to the plugin API, and a set of geo-temporal visualization tools.

Omeka will also continue to grow with our newly-awarded IMLS National Leadership Grant to fund a pilot of an Omeka Commons. The Commons will offer a select group of Omeka institutional users an easy, one-click option for adding their collections to a central preservation grade repository to provide institutions with both a low-overhead preservation pathway for their materials, and greater community exposure and engagement. Second, Omeka Commons will provide researchers with immeasurably greater and centralized discovery and open access to the small collections contained in Omeka sites across the web. Meeting these aims will require significant work that will include enhancements to the core Omeka software, a new Omeka Commons server, and design and production of the Omeka Commons discovery portal. We look forward to getting the pilot launched within two years, so that we can offer the Commons option to all Omeka users.

We published a short roadmap that outlines forthcoming releases and milestones for 2011-2012.

We appreciate the support, feedback, and contributions we receive from the Omeka community each day, and we hope you will continue to follow our progress in our next two endeavors.

IMLS Funding for Omeka Commons

Monday, September 27th, 2010

We are pleased to announce that the Center for History and New Media has received a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to create Omeka Commons. The grant, which comes from the Advancing Digital Resources category, will allow us to build upon the success of Omeka to create a centralized repository service that will meet the needs of smaller cultural heritage and scholarship organizations that often have difficulty creating, delivering, and sustaining online digital collections.

During this two-year pilot project, Omeka Commons will offer hosting and content backup services for a small test group of organizations. These Omeka users will have access to an easy one-click option for sending content to the Commons. At the same time, we will create an easy to navigate interface for general users to discover, use, and link to hosted digital collections and objects. Finally, Omeka staff will work with legal and technical advisors to evaluate metadata and licensing schema for the repository, and will produce a white paper with recommendations to guide future work.

Together, we believe that these efforts will provide models for breaking down the silos of digital cultural heritage content, serving the needs of both institutions and their users. And, we hope that you will join us in building this central place for discovery of our shared cultural commonwealth.

Read about all the 2010 IMLS National Leadership Grant Recipients.