By Rebecca Henfrey
The second Major discussion of the day centered on the creation of the network’s website. Shawn Antcil, a web developer and designer from Carleton University ran this presentation and recorded the feedback given by members. The following is a brief summary of considerations and proposals put forth by Shawn and other various individuals.
Highlights of Shawn’s Presentation
- Members in attendance were asked to consider and list “the top 5 levels of this website” whilst brainstorming ideas and concepts of what the organization’s website may look like
- Members were asked to consider the following questions
- What are the absolute necessities required for optimal functionality (examples included: Membership and Log-In Page, Contact Directory, Database of Information or Relevant News Page, Recommended Resources Page)
- What would you like content management to look like?
- What type of content would you like? (Would submissions be accepted and posted on this page? Who will be invited to submit material and how does said material get posted?)
- How would the type of content influence website management (i.e. would certain features require additional management? If so, who will be responsible for this? Is it possible to institute a tiered system of contributors?)
- What will membership look like
- Select Website Types
- Archive – Akin to the Canadian Government’s website and database. An archive is much more interactive and allows for users to interact with a variety of different search features. While It does not have to be as complex and sophisticated the Canadian Government’s website, it will require work.
- Wiki – Akin to a Wikipedia database, that is updated and actively curated by members. The management, writing and editing of this site is not all with one person; rather it works best when curating responsibilities are distributed amongst multiple individuals on a tiered system. A Wiki is beneficial in that it can serve as a platform and site for creating and pooling knowledge. In this case, it would function as an encyclopedic database on Humanitarian History of sorts.
- Forum/Q&A – This website format is perhaps more tailored towards the creation and stimulation of conversation between individuals and researchers within the community. This would be a potentially good site type to engage people and encourage them to share knowledge.
- Non-Excusive – Another option to be considered is a combining of a series of types of websites. An integrated website form can serve as a platform for discussion as well as a database for information and jumping point for further research. These website formats are non-exclusive and thus various features can be incorporated.
- Important points of note
- While each form has its benefits, it is important to recognize that there are drawbacks to each format as well.
- It is important to also consider the first impression that the organization would like to make via its website.
- These decisions should be made around critical thinking, as the decisions made will shape how the website is designed and developed.
- It is also important to consider how the individual types of websites relate to the goals of the organization and the priorities of the organization as well
- Suggestions Made (In response to presentation)
- Contacts list – Instead of a forum-style page or questions section (which may be troublesome to maintain for one person as they require a considerable amount of effort); perhaps having an updated list of contacts or a database of member profiles with twitter handles or and other information linked in would be more useful given the nature of this organization.
- Maintenance of Historical Side – It is imperative that we remember that it is important to strike the balance between being current and updated on what’s going on in the field whilst still maintaining that we are very much a group of historians interested in history. While it is important to include current information, this information and sense of active engagement should be balanced with a sense that this is what historians do and it is a repository of information
- Content Access – informational posts (i.e. web posts, links, exhibits and resources etc) should be easily retrievable in this website/database. Topics and website tags should be curated and maintained such that it should be easy to bring information back to the front again.
- Wiki- Functionality and Information Sharing – This form of functionality is very powerful and could be of use to the organization as it allows for there to be distributed content management. By allowing users to contribute openly you enable them to easily share bibliographies or syllabi with other members.
- Network Updates – Perhaps a tiered system of email updates could also be useful in the maintenance of this website. The potential for a weekly sectional or monthly update sent to member’s emails should be looked into
- Narratives – It is important to consider narratives, especially dominant narratives whilst creating this website and curating its content as certain groups tend to be more active than others and can (unintentionally) dominate the narrative of content.
- Accessibility – this website should be easily accessible and navigable by ‘outside individuals’, i.e. individuals who may not be part of the network, who are using our site as a source of information.
- Online Network Purpose – the purpose of the online network (via the website and members-only sections) is to complement the current offline network that we have today. Rather than attempting to create a new (facebook – like) network that doesn’t exist, or attempting to distribute something new we will find a solution that addresses our specific needs.
- Further Potential Actions – put in relationships between NGOs and
Comon research projects
Collaborating with the CIDC
- The idea was first proposed during the First Canadian Workshop and since then there has yet to be any decision on a finalized project proposal
- These research projects would be three-year projects that would allow for various levels of collaboration and cooperation from members, depending on their level of interest and ability to commit.
- Ideally this project would be ready in early October such that the __ would know by mid spring whether or not the project would be feasible at that time. If, upon evaluation, the project doesn’t seem to work at that time we can continue to work on it
- Marshall will apply for a $4000 grant (in the form of a Mini-Internal Carleton Research Project) and Uriel as well as Sarah, Jill, Will and Kevin will participate heavily and work as the “anchors of the collaboration”
- Anticipated Schedule of project development:
- Year 1 – Planning; The first year of the project would focus primarily on building the foundations of these collaborative relationships between professionals and NGOs
- Year 2 – Follow Through; The second year of the project would focus on a more formalized manner of interaction and
- Year 3 – Writing and Teaching – The third year of the project would be the year in which those involved can write more about the project and explore potentially teaching out of our research and experiences.
- Ideally; one of the primary goals would be to use this project as a further tool for discussion and collaboration with Kevin O’s network. The creation of a research presentation on the success of this project (focusing on whether or not these models of engagement work in practice) could be done in collaboration jointly with Kevin O’s network.
Development of a “Relationship Building” toolkit
- Create a tool kit to help guide individuals through the process of establishing collaborative relationships with NGOs.
- This would be done with especial reference to giving individuals and organizations the tools to consolidate these relationships in a respectful manner
- Focus on methods that allow NGOs to archive, collect and showcase their history whilst also giving historians access to their past
- This toolkit will also focus on ways to create these relationships in a manner that empowers said NGOs whilst allowing for student and expert engagement
- These guides will be provided and available via the network and will also reference member’s past research.