How do I create a custom page in Omeka?

I have a fairly simple question about Omeka, and I hope there’s a fairly simple answer (or that someone can point me to the right place in the documentation or discussion forum.) If an item has a few media files associated with it, how would I go about creating a template for a dynamically-generated page that would display one of those media files and not all of them at once? Here’s the context for the question: with BrailleSC, we’re creating an Omeka archive of oral histories. Each oral history item will be presented as a transcription (in HTML), a video file (MP4), and an audio file (MP3). As I understand it, the default page for an Omeka item automatically displays all of the files associated with that particular item, and in the case of a 30-minute video what that means is the user must wait for a pretty large video file to load, even if all they’re interested in is the transcription or the mp3.

Now, we could use some kind of Flash-based player that wouldn’t load the video on the page but would stream it when the user specifically triggers the video; unfortunately, however, Flash is not compatible with the screen reader shoftware used by many of our intended audience.

What’d we like to have is a page that automatically displays the transcription (and maybe a screenshot from the video) but just provides links to the pages that contain the video and the audio. If I understand the backend correctly, such pages would need to be passed the “id” of the Omeka item so that they could then grab the appropriate video or audio file and embed it on the page. Is that correct? Could anyone give me a nudge in the right direction so that I could hack something together?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice!

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Revised Questions: Oral Histories Regarding Braille

I am sincerely grateful for all of the feedback I received (in various channels) about my last post. Below I list the questions I ended up asking during the first three interviews I conducted. Keep in mind that the interviews were much more like conversations than this somewhat sterile list of questions might imply.

A hand reading braille.

  1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
  2. What is your experience today with using braille in everyday life?
  3. What do you remember about when you first started learning braille?
  4. What was the hardest thing about learning braille?
  5. Looking back now, what’s your opinion of the way you were taught braille?
  6. Today, when you read for pleasure, what kind of material do you read and how do you read it? (audio? braille?)
  7. Some say that listening to a book is not an example of literacy and that only by reading through braille is a person literate. What’s your opinion?
  8. With new technologies making it so easy to listen to books and other kinds of writing, is there a good reason to preserve braille and keep teaching people how to use it?
  9. Do braille readers have any advantages over sighted readers?
  10. Let’s turn now from reading to writing. How do you compose your writing? What tools do you use? How do you edit? Do you use a brailler?
  11. When you were a child, did you have any adult role models who were visually impaired or blind?
  12. Do you think it’s important for young people who are visually impaired or blind to have adult role models who are, too?
  13. As far as you know, are you a role model to any young people?

[Photo by Flickr user antonioxalonso. Licensed under Creative Commons.]

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THATCamp 2009

Below is my application (which was accepted!) to THATcamp 2009, “a user-generated ‘unconference‘ on digital humanities organized and hosted by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, June 27–28, 2009.”

Many thanks to Jeremy Boggs and Dave Lester for organizing this event!

Discussion Topic: How can digital humanities projects with scholarly significance be designed with the needs of vision-impaired end users at the forefront of consideration while still keeping the needs of vision-enabled end users in mind?
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composition / pedagogy / disability

A somewhat general request: I need pointers to extant scholarship on composition pedagogy for vision- and hearing-impaired students. And if that scholarship takes a historical view as far back as the nineteenth or eighteenth century, I would be especially interested.

Some (hopefully not confusing) background to my question:

  1. The South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind (SCSDB) is quite literally right down the road from my house. Spartanburg, SC is a small enough town that I happen to be friends with the former director of that school, Sheila Breitweiser, and have had an informal conversation with her over coffee about writing and disability, which fueled my curiosity and enthusiasm.
  2. The archives of the SCSDB go back to the mid nineteenth century, and I’d like to embark on a scholarly project using those archives.
  3. The results of that project could be some combination of the following:
    1. a historically-grounded article on the development of composition pedagogy for such students;
    2. a digital archive of the materials currently housed in that analog archive (and perhaps contributed to the state-wide project);
    3. a “best-practices” framework for creating digital archives with the needs of vision-impaired users in mind.
  4. My initial interest in these issues was sparked while in graduate school, when I worked with Rosemarie Garland-Thomson (and several others, while she was a fellow at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities) on developing “DISC: A Disability Studies Academic Community”
  5. I’m fairly new to the fields of composition and disability studies.
  6. My background is in orality/literacy studies and eighteenth-century studies, and I see this as a logical extension of that background as well as my digital humanities training.

Any advice or feedback would be much appreciated!

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Who’s going to ASECS 2009?

David Mazella writes:

Some Long 18th contributors who will be presenting or chairing at ASECS this week:

Kirstin Wilcox (Chair), Teaching 18c Poetry Roundtable, Thursday 8-9:30

Laura Rosenthal, “Too Exquisite For Laughter: British Sentimental Comedy,” “The Sentimental Gesture in The West Indian,” Thursday 8-9:30

Chris Vilmar, “Samuel Johnson at 300,” “Johnson Philologus,” Thursday 4:15-5:45

Sharlene Sayegh, “Roundtable on Carolyn Steedman’s Master and Servant: Love and Labour in the English Industrial Age,” Friday 9:45-11:15

Carrie Shanafelt, “The Literature of the Scottish Enlightenment,” “The Rhetoric of Narrative in Scottish Enlightenment Philosophy,” Friday 11:30-1

Bill Levine, “Thematic and Solo Art Exhibitions in the Long Eighteenth Century,” “Animating the Spirit of High Art: de Loutherbourg’s Eidophusikon as a Critique of Royal Academy Exhibitions,” Saturday, 2-3:30

Dave Mazella, Laura Rosenthal, Maureen Harkin (Chair), Sharon Stanley, Louisa Shea, “Roundtable on David Mazella’s Making of Modern Cynicism,” Saturday 2-3:30

Eugenia Zuroski Jenkins, “Unromantic England,” “Romanticism’s Oriental Unconscious,” Saturday 3:45-5:30

Have I forgotten anyone? Planning to come? Let us know your plans. I’d especially love to hear from other 18th century bloggers to see if we can manage a rare face to face meeting. I’ll be in town Friday afternoon, staying through Sunday.

For the program, click here [PDF].



To which I respond in comments:

Thanks for this, David! I was just checking in to see what might have been posted on the conference.

I’d very much like to be part of a “meetup” of eighteenth-century bloggers. I arrive on Thursday just in time for my first time slot, and then I’ll stay through Saturday late afternoon (or maybe Sunday early morning… I’m driving).

I’m on the schedule in a couple of time slots:

George H. Williams, “‘Sex and the City’ in the Eighteenth Century,” “The Power of Wow in Teaching the Eighteenth Century Now” (Roundtable), Thursday 2:30-4:00

George H. Williams, “Samuel Bradburn, E. P. Thompson, and Methodist Abolitionism, ” “Slavery and Protestantism in the Transatlantic Eighteenth Century,” Thursday 4:15-5:45
Thursday 4:15-5:45

Anyone else…?

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