Advertising Your Archives
The story so far:
But some of you remain unbelievers. Perhaps you've looked around on the WWW and couldn't find anything on your pet topic. It happens. There's no organising authority directing the development of resources. The Internet is not an encyclopedia, is a communication medium. But if you can't find what you want, don't complain, create. Do it yourself!
This presentation is about moving beyond being just a consumer of Internet resources and becoming a creator of Internet resources. Using the WWW, you can publish all sorts of material concerning your archive on the Internet, and it's not that hard.
The huge number of businesses currently racing to develop WWW sites indicates that there are gains to be had out there in cyberspace, even before the problem of secure financial transactions has been worked out. Some reasons why you might want to develop a WWW presence include:
Well, you must admit it, it's always nice to see your name in print, even if it is on a screen. Those of you with egos to build and evenings to spare might even become WWW gurus, attracting fan-email from around the world. Aaahh.
Example: http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/staff/tpsbiog.htm - Guess who! I'm waiting for your email ...
Gone are the days when marketing was something that only the private sector engaged in. We all have to establish a public profile for our institutions if they are to justify their existence. You can use the WWW to provide:
Once you've told everyone about your services, you then have to be able to deliver them. Here again the WWW can be useful, providing:
Of course, it's not just a matter of self-interest. By providing information over the WWW we can help make our archival resources more accessible. We can encourage further research, we can develop interest in Australia's heritage. Currently there is not that much available that provides information on resources in Australian history - you could make a substantial difference.
First, some reassurance - you don't have to be an IT expert to create WWW documents, in fact, it may help to not be an IT expert. If you can mark-up text as you would to send to a printer or typesetter, you can create HTML documents.
HTML is simply HyperText Markup Language. As with all living languages, HTML is still evolving and different browsers sometimes speak slightly different dialects. The main thing to remember is that documents can look different depending on which browser is used to view them. For those of you who are interested in the detailed specifications, check out:
Have a look at the following piece of text (in blue):
By Tim Sherratt
This talk covers:
In HTML this text might look something like this (also in blue):
<H1>The Internet - What it can do for the Archivist</H1>
<H2>Advertising your Archives on the WWW</H2>
<I>By Tim Sherratt</I>
This talk covers:
<LI>The WWW as a marketing tool
<LI>Advertising your archives on the WWW
<LI>Other neat stuff
Your first thought is YUK! But look again, the top heading is surrounded by <H1>..</H1> tags - Get it? H1 means first level Heading. The <I>..</I> tags say to put the author's name in Italics. <UL>..</UL> gives you an Unnumbered List, each separate item flagged with an <LI> tag. Easy huh? The hard work is done by the server and client software that read the tags and do all the formatting for you. Of course, there are a lot more tags and things can get fairly complicated for heavily formatted documents, but the principles stay the same.
You can get started creating HTML documents with just a plain old text editor or word processing package, simply type the tags in and save the file as plain text (ASCII). Or if you prefer the soft option you can get yourself a dedicated HTML editor. These are available for just about every platform and are generally available as shareware. The following lists will point you in the right direction:
We can't really go into much detail in a session like this, but hopefully you are enthused enough to start doing some investigating yourselves. The WWW itself provides an excellent training ground. There are a rapidly growing number of guides and tutorials available online:
And whenever you come across a WWW page that makes you think "Wow! How did they do that?", find out exactly how they did it by using the "View Source" command on your browser. This lets you see the raw HTML underlying the document, so you can examine the tags that were used and try them in your own documents.
Then you can make them available to the world by placing them on a WWW server connected to the Internet. WWW servers are just software programs that sit around and wait for WWW browsers to send requests to them. Gone are the days when you had to be a Unix head to even think of running a WWW server. You can now get versions for Macs and Windows machines.
The WWW is an exciting publishing medium that offers even small organisations the chance to develop a significant national, even international, profile.