Here are my revised personas that reflect issues that emerged from the readings on archives, online collecting, and interfaces. I have also added a third persona that reflects another potential kind of user of the digital history final project I am working on.
Demographic: mid-50s, mom of two, project manager
Descriptive Title: Oberlinian
Quote: “I like to hear stories of everyday people and to learn things that surprise me.”
A Day in a Life Narrative:
A lot of Julie’s life revolves around her teenage kids. She drives them to a private school over an hour away every day and works from public libraries while they are in school. At home, she cooks dinner, spends time with her family, and then does a bit more work before heading to bed. Her work managing major projects often involves internet research or using online tools like OpenTable, BaseCamp, Excel, and graphic design programs. On weekends, she likes to do family activities like going on hikes, exploring nearby cities, and visiting museums. Julie describes herself as a history buff who likes to know the histories of places she visits. She stops at every historical marker, does research to learn more about a place before visiting, and likes to go on guided walking tours to get a multidimensional sense of a space. She is currently reading a new book about Oberlin’s history and is particularly interested in the stories of the daily lives of everyday residents.
Julie wants a website that is easy to use and navigate that she could occasionally visit to explore a particular issue or question of interest to her. She loves hearing stories and would like to be able to find short reminiscences about people in Oberlin that relate to particular issues or themes. She often has to help out one of her kids with history projects and would like a place that she could send them to find reliable information that they can use in school. For her, any website must look professional–typos or grammatical errors lead her to question a site’s credibility. It also needs to work well whether she’s on her cell phone or her computer. There needs to be an excellent search function and good graphics. But she would really love to be able to browse and explore a site without having to go in with an specific search terms. She enjoys little-known fact and quirky stories and would be drawn to return to a site that featured fun trivia on a regular basis.
Demographic: 40s, Oberlinian, Public History Professional
Descriptive Title: Museum Director
Quote: My institution puts out a lot of material on our website, but folks don’t always know about it or know how to find it.
A Day in a Life Narrative:
Liz works as the director of a small history museum and her days vary widely depending on pressing needs and staffing. Some days, she leads tours of the house museum to school groups or does outreach with community members at the retirement center, library, and churches. She writes grants to support the museum’s ongoing programs, oversees the collections, and supervises a staff that includes a museum educator and a curator. As the director of a small museum, she is called on to do everything from shoveling snow off the sidewalk to collaborating on new programming. She struggles with her museum’s lack of storage space, the limitations of a small staff, and quickly outdated technologies. With a collection skewed to the nineteenth century, she is working to find ways to diversify the museum’s collections and to tell stories from the more recent past.
Liz has watched lots of history projects come and go in Oberlin and she is interested in projects that are sustainable and that have broad appeal. She wants work that already exists to be made more visible and accessible; she recognizes that cultural organizations get more visibility if they offer their content on shared spaces that broad audiences might visit. She worries about costs and wants to be able to do more without spending more. She’s particularly interested in collecting more 20th and 21st century materials, in expanding her museum’s oral history program, and in finding ways to work with interested community members to help collect and transcribe oral histories. She wants to be able to make her museum’s existing collections more accessible and searchable so it’s important to her that any new project be interoperable with her institution’s metadata practices. She also wants to find ways to make it easy for community members to contribute memories and photos to an Oberlin history archive. She is looking for tools that will appeal to all demographics in a town where there is sometimes racial tension and wants to find ways to encourage online collection of materials while retaining the integrity of the museum’s collections.
Demographic: late 60s, Oberlinian, retiree, gardener, photographer
Descriptive Title: Community photographer
Quote: I’ve taken so many wonderful photos of Oberlin over the years; I’d love for more people to see them!
A Day in a Life Narrative:
Laura is a retired schoolteacher who has lived-in Oberlin for nearly her whole life. Her days are busy with growing flowers that she sells at the local farmer’s market, babysitting local kids, and participating in civic activities. Everyday, she goes out to the main square in Oberlin to check out “the Rocks,” several large boulders that are a kind of living monument. Whenever there is something new spraypainted on one of the rocks, she takes a picture to document it. She used to keep her own blog site about the rocks, but it became too much work for her to keep up.
Laura would love to share her pictures with the community if there was an easy and reliable way to do so. She would need to feel comfortable and welcome before sharing any of her photos. She’s not sure whether she would want to make all of them public, or whether she would want to retain rights, so she would need to be able to decide that for herself. She wants to be able to upload multiple photos at once. She’s not that comfortable with technology so any website would need to be very easy to use with very clear instructions.