Evaluating ‘A Million Blue Pages’
I have chosen the website A Million Blue Pages for the assignment of evaluating a digital and/or public humanities project. Since I have interacted with it quite frequently this semester, as well as searched through it and seen what others have contributed, I feel I am quite familiar with it.
Concerning categories and criteria for Museums and the Web‘s 2012 contest ‘Best of the Web,’ I have found three which relate to the website A Million Blue Pages.
The first category is ‘Exhibition.’ According to Museums and the Web “these sites excel in presenting and interpreting museum collections and themes, providing a rich and meaningful digital experience. They may be a section of a larger museum web site or be a collaborative project among institutions and/or individuals and communities associated with the museum.”
What ties this category to A Million Blue Pages is the fact that it is “a collaborative project amongst institutions and individuals.” Many different schools and colleges from different locations contributed items to A Million Blue Pages. Not only did each school/college approach House of Leaves differently, but so did each individual person.
Museums and the Web listed several characteristics concerning the category of ‘Exhibition,’ one of them being “Effective use of media platforms: Innovative ways of complementing physical exhibitions or providing surrogates for physical experiences in online only exhibitions.”
A Million Blue Pages does this well because it allows for the presentation of both physically made objects and those created strictly on the computer. For instance, say you make a little book and want it to open and close to reveal a written message, or perhaps to simply convey a message. You can create a gif and upload it to A Million Blue Pages. You needn’t rely on text alone to tell a story.
The second category for ‘Exhibition’ is “New ways of representing museum processes and structures: Imaginative audience participation and engagement of different categories of visitors.”
A beautiful thing about any book is that love for it can be universal. This is no different for House of Leaves. Students of every age and educational level can contribute to A Million Blue Pages, interpreting the novel in their own unique way, and more often than not drawing parallels with others through their projects. There are several ways in which one can contribute an item to A Million Blue Pages: Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter and Vine.
With so many diversified technological ways to contribute to the site, and myriad people creating and posting their objects, A Million Blue Pages has captured an “imaginative audience participation and engagement of different categories and visitors.”
A second category put forth by Museums and the Web is ‘Long Lived.’ This category “rewards a museum (or museum organization) that has shown a long-term commitment to an excellent online presence of any kind. Their longevity embodies the power and effectiveness of sustained online engagement.”
Another great thing about books is that they will always be read. For my class I had to read House of Leaves for the second time, and if I hadn’t cut up and torn out pages to complete my five objects for A Million Blue Pages I’d probably read it again sometime! House of Leaves is one of those novels that gets better every time you read it. Which is why I think A Million Blue Pages falls under the category of ‘Long-lived.’
Students of all ages and educational levels will always read House of Leaves, just as they will always be assigned objects to upload to A Million Blue Pages. In addition, after looking through the objects my fellow classmates uploaded, I found myself inspired to create some more of my own, as well as look back on some of the quotes I had pulled and see if there was a different way to come at them, to see what else I could conjure.
One of the ‘Quality Characteristics’ under the category of ‘Long-‘lived’ was as follows: “Reliable consistent quality: continued growth in available resources overtime.” Admittedly, though there were myriad projects of estimable quality, there were also others where a lack of thought and imaginative interpretation was evident. Are projects of the latter category worth keeping? Do they add anything to A Million Blue Pages? Perhaps in the future such objects could be eliminated through the work of an administrator.
The last category I will talk about is ‘Social Media.’ Some ‘Quality Characteristics’ include: “exploring user contribution: user-created content and real interactivity in formats such as – user discussions, crowdsourced and contributed and collaborative content.”
A Million Blue Pages has undoubtedly utilized the idea of crowdsourcing with the use of hashtags to gather objects related to House of Leaves from Tumblr, Instagram, Vine and Twitter. The site also allows for user discussion by way of comments, both on individual projects and specific pages. Also the site’s connection with Twitter no doubt draws conversations about House of Leaves into social media.
Pick up a book, any book, and start reading it. You will soon find that it is by far bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Not only is there an infinitely large world within its pages, but a week, month or even years later, once you’ve finished reading it, you might find yourself inspired by some small part of it. You might even be moved to create something, an object, articulating your unique interpretation and sharing it with the world.
Such is the beauty of A Million Blue Pages and other sites like it. We each see the world differently and we can find others who share our vision while at the same time discovering a thousand new angles, or is it a million?
Source: Museums and the Web 2012 (MW2012): Best of the Web: Categories.