Part 2: Week 4 Blog

Digital Harlem serves as a great model for my work in History 390, for good reasons. For some time, I have been thinking about adding an interactive map to my final project to allow users to engage with the content that I will be presenting. The Digital Harlem website included maps that allow users to click through, and view everyday life events that took place in Harlem from the time periods between 1915 and 1930. The website organized these events into broad categories on the right-hand side of the page, and when you click on one of the topics, the map will generate several events that took place relating to the topic of interest, where users will then be able to click through the map, read the small description provided in the white box, and also have the option to open any location outside of the highlighted zone in Google Maps. In addition to this, when you click on one of the topics located on the right-hand side of the page, a description of the subject is given on the left-hand side of the page. The map on the Digital Harlem website is the ideal map that I would want in my project because it is highly organized, very detailed, and it is easy to use and understand. I want to be sure that the map I include on my website is just as organized and detailed as this map so that my audience will be able to comprehend and pick out the information that is being presented in my project easily. Moreover, there were no bugs or crashes that took place when navigating through the website, which is also something that I will highly consider in order to formulate a successfully functional final project.

The screenshot above was obtained from Digital Harlem, and it shows the topics (right-hand side of the page), the description of the subject (on the left-hand side of the page), and the map in the center. In addition, you can see the mini description of the location, the name of the location, and the date in the white box once you click on a particular event.

Furthermore, the Digital Harlem website is very easy to navigate in the sense that if one were to click on one of the menu options at the top of the page, a message box pops up explaining everything one needs to know about that particular section of the website. The website doesn’t redirect you to a different page, instead, a message box appears on the same page so that the user can remain on that one page, the whole time while navigating through the website. This makes things so much easier for the user when it comes to finding information for research because they won’t have to flip-flop between several different tabs when using this website. I want to be sure that my website is easy to navigate for users so that there are no complications or inconveniences caused when using my final project.

The image above, obtained from Digital Harlem, shows the pop-up message box that gives the audience a description of the menu option.

Digital Harlem is an online tool, archive, and gateway/clearinghouse to Google Maps. This website contains a collection of primary sources obtained from legal records, newspapers, and other primary sources. The interactive map makes this an online tool, and the fact that certain locations allow one to access it through Google Maps makes this website a gateway/clearinghouse. The information presented on the website was published in 2015 and relates to life in Harlem from the year 1915 to 1930, with most of the information focusing on the years 1920, 1925, and 1930. The information being presented on this website is based “on the lives of ordinary African New Yorkers,” (Digital Harlem). The content is presented through a map that presents specific locations of events and arrests that occurred and significant places within a given subject/topic and time period. The content presented was very organized, detailed, and the map was easy to understand and engage with.

The image above is a screenshot obtained from Digital Harlem, and it shows an example for when a location outside of the shaded area is selected, the website becomes a gateway to Google Maps.

When it comes to the design of the Digital Harlem website, the information architecture is very clear when it comes to communicating what a user can find on its site. The audience can easily click the “about” section on the menu bar located at the top of the page and a pop-up message will come up on the screen, and provide the user with all of the information they need regarding the selected option from the menu bar. As I mentioned above, this makes things easier for the user to navigate in the sense that they won’t have to be clicking the backspace several times or click through many tabs since the website generates a pop-up description box about the given section of the website, on the same page. In addition to this, the architecture of the site includes a map that has a descriptive summary located on the left-hand side of the page, that explains what is being presented on the map for a selected topic from the right-hand side of the page. This website functioned as expected because there were no error messages or glitches that occurred throughout my navigation process. The map design is a very clear and effective method of presenting information in a way that will keep an audience engaged with the material because of the visuals provided and the detailed descriptions that go along with it. One can even zoom in and get a street view of the location, which makes this a very unique design. In terms of accessibility, this website is not secure and this is noted in the URL.

This is a screenshot obtained from Digital Harlem. The website is not secure and this is shown in the URL (red box). The descriptive summary is located on the left-hand side of the page (light green box). Finally, the satellite, street view of the map (blue box).

Digital Harlem doesn’t target a specific audience, thus the website can be used by anyone in the general public. The creators of this project address the needs of the general public by providing a fully functioning, interactive map, in addition to a descriptive summary of a specific topic, in order to present complex information in a simple and more understandable, and interactive way. The special characteristics of the map play a role in the effective use of digital media and the new technology aspect of the project. This website is unique from other media, in that it would be hard to emulate the same interactive map onto a print source for example because it would not have the several different interactive components that the map on Digital Harlem has.

Digital Harlem is a section of a bigger, collaborative research project regarding the life of an African in New York during the time period between 1915 and 1930, and it was created by historians in the Department of History at the University of Sydney, in Australia. These historians are Shane White, Stephen Garton, Graham White, and Stephen Robertson, and they were assisted by Delwyn Elizabeth, Nick Irving, Michael Thompson, Conor Hannan, and Anna Lebovic.

Works Cited:

McClurken, Jeffrey. “Digital History Reviews.” jah.oah.org, Organization of American Historians, 2013, https://jah.oah.org/submit/digital-history-reviews/.

White, Shane et. al.. “Digital Harlem Everyday Life 1950-1930.” digitalharlem.org, Digital Harlem, 2015, http://digitalharlem.org/.

3 thoughts on “Part 2: Week 4 Blog

  • September 23, 2021 at 3:30 am
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    I did not get the chance to explore the Digital Harlem website, but from your review, I think I would enjoy how easy to navigate the website. I really like how you mention the site has is able to concisely communicate complex information. I know you mention that the site has an interactive map that functions well, and I see that you plan to include an interactive component on your site, what will your map feature?

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  • September 23, 2021 at 12:24 pm
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    I agree that Digital Harlem had an easy and understandable interfacing, especially in regards to the utilization of the map to demonstrate their information coherently. I especially enjoyed this website as the information was easily categorized and the users were able to find the exact information they would be looking into.

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  • September 27, 2021 at 4:06 am
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    I think your review of Digital Harlem was really extensive and did a good job of portraying the website as if I was looking through it without having the website actually open; all while giving simple insight into the workings of the website without making it seem too convoluted. Great job Lina!

    Reply

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