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Today we will explore Neatline, which is a platform for building spatial exhibits using items collected using the Omeka digital archive software. It’s possible to discuss Neatline without getting into the nitty-gritty details of Omeka, and for the most part that’s how we will address it, mostly because of time constraints. I will need to outline Omeka in broad strokes in order for certain aspects of Neatline to make sense, however, and I’ve also provided links below to resources that will help you learn more about Omeka. If you decide to pursue a project using Neatline, you will likely have to learn more about Omeka to do so.
The point of today’s workshop, however, is not really to teach you how to use a particular piece of software. Instead, my aim is to let you explore one way of making a map and begin thinking about how the activity of mapping differs, intellectually and pedagogically, from the study of maps.
Like other mapping platforms, Neatline has both affordances and limitations. Neatline is a wonderful platform for making, as Bethany Nowviskie writes,
hand-crafted, interactive stories as interpretive expressions of a single document or a whole archival or cultural heritage collection.
By contrast, Neatline is not a GIS or a platform for big spatial datasets; we can talk more about this distinction and how it might apply to your own research and teaching.
Here’s an outline of how I hope this morning will go, but this will vary depending on both human and technical variables. At any stage, feel free to let me know whether we should slow down, speed up, define, redefine, and so forth. I’m just fine with detours, so long as they contribute to your projects and your teaching.
- What is Omeka? (9:15-9:30)
- Creating records in Neatline (9:30-10:00)
- Practice creating records (10:00-10:15)
- Timelines and waypoints (10:15-10:45)
- Improving your exhibits (10:45-11:00)
- Importing georectified historical maps into Neatline (11:00-11:30)
If needed and desired we can do more after lunch!
- The Official Omeka Documentation is a good place to start
- The Omeka team has also published a set of screencasts describing how to use Omeka and some of its plugins
- The Haskins Society has published a set of tutorials about Omeka and Neatline
- Jonathan Reeve outlines “Installing Omeka” at the Programming Historian
- Miriam Posner and Megan R. Brett’s exhibit at the Programming Historian on “Creating an Omeka Exhibit”
- Arden Kirkland has a three-part series on YouTube about using Omeka with students
- Of course, the Official Neatline Documentation
- Kristen Mapes’ Neatline for Historical Maps tutorial
- Post introducing the NeatlineText plugin.
Model Neatline Exhibits
- Joanne DeCaro Afornalli’s MA Thesis, Angelenos Incarcerated (click on “Map” for the project’s Neatline exhibit
- David McClure, Project Gemini over Baja California Sur. Also useful is McClure’s blog post about creating this exhibit.
- Ryan Cordell, Abby Mullen, and Jonathan Fitzgerald, A Love Letter to Viral Texts.
- All the demo exhibits from the Neatline website.
- Class exhibits from the On Haj with Ibn Jubayr: Reconstructing the 12th Century Mediterranean class at the University of Virginia
- Undergraduate student project from Northeastern University on the 1919 Molasses Flood.
- Undergraduate student project from Northeastern University on the Boston Harbor Islands.