Thursday, June 3, 2010

Plateau Peoples' Web Portal

After reading through the fascinating discussion taking place over at Museums 3.0 about social networking and museums working with source communities, I've got a basketful of interesting museum projects to write up and share.

The first of these is one of Kimberley Christen's latest efforts, the Plateau Peoples' Web Portal. (Kim's work has been very inspiring to our project team for several years now).

From the 'Project Overview' page:
"This project aims to create not just a digital portal to view content, but also a different paradigm for the curation, distribution, and reproduction of Native peoples' cultural materials."

From the 'Visitors' page:
"Whereas in many museum and archive settings knowledge is "given," here we have sought to create a space to open dialogue and allow many perspectives to sit side by side. Instead of "finding" information, the portal seeks to be a space where knowledge is created in constant conversation."

The collection is mostly archival in nature (ie. photographs, articles, clippings, and the like). There are several interesting features built into the system, particularly in how the architecture is organized first into 'tribal paths' (Yakama, Coeur d'Alene, and Umatilla) , and second into categories like 'lifeways', 'government to government relations', 'artistry and artifacts', 'language', 'religion', etc. I also really enjoy that for individual records, there are all kinds of descriptive metadata available in addition to the original catalogue record -- related items, map, tribal catalogue record, tribal knowledge, people, and "categories, tribal paths, and restrictions".

I like that the information isn't all visible at once, but that the user has the option of looking at the metadata that he/she is interested in, bit by bit. In terms of usability, this is a great way of keeping the information overload problem down to a minimum.

While it looks like they still have a ways to go in terms of gathering comments from community members, I always appreciate seeing a well-designed and well-oriented project along the same lines as our own. Great job Kim and everyone on the project team!

1 comment:

  1. Also, there is a great project summary / write up here: