Three Things in a Scholar’s Web Toolkit

In a bit of cursory research conducted for last week’s post on currents of change and debate in the humanities, I came across Omeka, a web publishing and curatorial tool created by George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media (CFNM). Home to an assortment of academics, educators, and developers, CFNM’s charges itself with churning out tools designed to make the creation of dynamic web content more intuitive and more accessible for the technically-disinclined . Though Omeka may appeal most to the humanist of this sort, scholars of all stripes were recently given reason for optimism with the releases of two new tools.

In the past two weeks, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported CFNM’s and Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science’s (IQSS) alpha and beta releases of Anthologize and OpenScholar, respectively. OpenScholar offers an easy way for scholars to create personal sites, no technical tinkering required. Anthologize, no older than one week, makes possible a novel type of creation- the conversion of blog posts into e-books.

Though they may diverge in function, Omeka and OpenScholar depart from a shared premise. Namely, that users be able to upload and organize content, be it writing or multimedia, and present it using customizable templates. With OpenScholar, scholars can centrally organize their blog, C.V., and course materials. Though the tool promises ease, it remains to be seen if it in fact addresses an acute need. Professors may be perfectly content with their current arrangements of personal pages on department sites, course pages on wikis or LMSs, and externally-powered blogs.

Anthologize is hardly ready to be subject to assessment yet- its site even lacks a proof-of-concept video. Still, the prospect of collecting, organizing, re-ordering, and publishing posts (from one or several blogs) in the more packageable, transferable e-book formats seems promising. What better way to, say, release the “Best of…” annual series for Trends in Ed, Research Digest, and EdLab Reviews?