Week 5 Practicum – Wikipedia!

Anyone else’s first thought when instructed to “edit or start a wikipedia entry related to your work” was, “Who? Me?  She wants ME to edit Wikipedia?  What qualifies ME to put anything into Wikipedia?”  And then your next thought was, “How silly, of course I can put something into Wikipedia – that’s the whole point!  Anyone can do it!”

I suppose that was one of the primary reasons for us to go through this.  In less than 60 seconds, I went from intimidated and uncertain to fairly confident and excited.  Alas, I am becoming more comfortable with this whole digital technology thing by the day (or hour).

It required some time and effort to understand how to edit, what kinds of symbols to use, how to cite, etc.  As much as Wikipedia advertises that making contributions is easy, I had a hard time finding some basic information.  When I finally happened upon the “Wikipedia Cheatsheet”, I was thrilled.  This gave me enough information that my update was successful.

I also love the CHNM article idea, that Wikipedia is a great opportunity to “practice non-academic writing”.  I could see incorporating this into a larger writing habit.

Second, I waited until Friday to request an account for the PWD website, and suspect that I will not receive my information until Monday.  So, my reflection on transcribing a document will have to wait until then.

Third, I chose the Monticello website as my public history website to review.


What a great site!  Straightforward, with tabs that made sense and identified exactly what was contained in the link.  There were tabs for visitors, students, researchers and teachers.  The ubiquitous “donate” tab in the upper-right-hand corner and a separate “shop” tab ensured that anyone wishing to spend money could do so with as few clicks as possible.

For researchers, there were external links, information on fellowships (funding!), conferences and publications.  For teachers and students, interactive links allowed one to explore the plantation virtually, touring the house and the grounds.  A video allows visitors to tour the house, room by room.  Accompanying audio offered background and context.  A running tab at the bottom of the video enables one to read along, if sound is not possible.

Along with each portion of the video is information about the particular room.  This included dimensions, color, architecture and location in the house or larger plantation.  An interactive floorplan shows you exactly where you are in the house, by room and floor.

A tour of the plantation offers pictures and word description, highlighting on a map of the plantation exactly where you are, but no video.

I admit, I dawdled as I watched some of the virtual tours.  It’s been more than a decade since I’ve been to Monticello and the chance to explore the plantation got the better of my inner history geek.  🙂

Simple to navigate, the links all worked, and it made me wonder how long and how much money it took to create this website.

One comment

  1. I was in Charlottesville visiting Monticello for the first time this weekend and was VERY impressed with the site (whatever qualms I may have with Jefferson himself, his home is BEAUTIFUL and the historical interpretation was done wonderfully). I can’t help but notice, though, that because Thomas Jefferson is “important” to our history, his website gets the most attention (and as you rightly pointed out, money). There’s a hierarchy of historical significance implicit in the variation of websites that our classmates chose for the assignment this week that I hadn’t really thought about until now.

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