Challenges of Local or Community History

Local or community history examines a certain area through a focused lens.  For example, a local history museum looks at a geographical area and then decides how they want to portray that area.  It could be examining personal stories and anecdotes, or it could be focusing on a specific set of artifacts for an area.  Either way, local history has a narrow focus.  The same goes for community history.  It has a narrow focus on a specific community, like LGBTQ.  The focus is on the history of that community group within the greater picture of history, not as a subset of that history.  Resources could be lacking for a very focused local or community history project.  This can lead to a very specific story being told, without examining all sides.

Challenges that exist with local and community history on a digital platform abound.  Local and community history museums and projects have the majority of their attendance come from people who stumbled upon them.  It is much harder to stumble through the Internet.  Making a site that is relevant and engaging in order to better draw in visitors is difficult, especially with a very narrow focus.  The goal of collaboration between members of the public and academics becomes much harder too with such a narrow focus.  Interactivity between users is difficult on any digital history project, while the level of difficulty increases with the lesser known projects.  The problem also arises with funding.  Nicer websites are created with more resources and money.  The possibility for collaboration with technological people is much greater at a large institution, whereas a local project might not have the same network.  Usability of the website still maintains itself as an issue, whether it is a large institution’s site or a local site.  The same challenge of sharing authority between individuals and academics also arises with smaller, local or community based history projects.

Every project, whether digital or analog, will have its own issues.  If the project contributors can remember that, getting the information displayed will be a much simpler task.

In regards to my digital history project, this made me think about how much of a niche culture rowing is.  It is definitely not a sport well known in land-locked areas with small bodies of water.  It is much more known on the coasts and in more affluent areas.  This makes me think about the story I want to tell with the Olympic men’s 8+ and how they struggled to make themselves known as the contenders.  I need to make my site user-friendly, while also better plan my collaborative efforts.  The less user-friendly those things are, the more likely my users will get frustrated and give up on my site and ultimately miss out on good stories and resources.

This entry was posted in General.

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