For my Concepts & Collaboration module, I was required to produce a digital artefact.
What is a digital artefact, you may ask? Good question. As I soon learned, “a digital artefact is any type of item produced and stored as digital/electronic version.” (WikiEducator, 2007). It may be something obvious like a website, a digitally-created image or a blog post. It can also be a tweet, a video, a Facebook post or a computer game.
I decided to produce an interactive article – an article, such as a news report, enhanced by tagging with various media, such as links, videos, images and text – all on one page, without necessarily sending the viewer away to a linked web page if he were to click on a tag. Here is what I came up with:
I chose this article, Galway 1916 website wins a national award, by the Galway Independent as it pertains to my area of interest in the digital humanities: heritage and its digitisation. It is also recent, having been published on 4th January. I cut out the image in the original article in order to be able to contain the entire article on one screen, and also, to annotate it into the article through tagging.
The most difficult part of the entire process was, I think, finding an appropriate tool for my idea. I first tried out Omeka’s Neatline, a tool for creating interactive maps. However, the tool turned out to be very complicated and technical, and after failing to grasp its workings after a few hours, I abandoned the tool and went in search of something else.
I then stumbled across ThingLink, a tool for creating interactive images. This amazing image-annotation tool’s limit is the user’s imagination. I was truly inspired by the myriad innovative projects produced using this tool. With it, one can annotate images, video, text, links, sound. Still or 360° images (such as the one below) can be used to create interactive digital artefacts.
Naturally, ThingLink was just the tool I had been looking for. So I signed up for an account and started annotating my article with various media. However, the free version of ThingLink only allows for a limited amount of tags and media types. After about 5 annotations, the tool announced that I would have to upgrade in order to continue. As I had only just begun to create my interactive article and I was not willing to pay for an upgrade, there was nothing left but to look around for another (free) tool. Nevertheless, to those who do have the necessary budget, I highly recommend this tool.
Following some more tool-hunting, I chanced upon Genially, a tool for creating interactive images, posters, presentations, infographics and whatever else you might think of. It is very similar to ThingLink and, most important of all, free. I found the tool to be user-friendly and flexible, giving me a wide variety of options as regards the inclusion of media types. It also offers four different interactivity types: tooltip (i.e., a small window which pops up when the mouse hovers over the marker), window (a window which appears in the centre when the marker is clicked on), go to page and link.
To create the tag, all I had to do was simply choose one of the markers from the selection in the sidebar, drag and drop it onto the desired location in the article. Once the marker is in place, click on it and choose an interactivity type. A window pops up and allows you to include images, text and links. A HTML window allows for the embedding of Youtube videos, tweets, Facebook posts and any other embeddable media type.
Having annotated some obvious items in the article, such as the Galway: Decade of Commemoration website and the National Library of Ireland website, I had the idea of enhancing the article even more with tweets, Facebook posts and videos that I found to be relevant to the article. Genially allowed me to embed these and display them in windows, as can be seen in the digital artefact above. The finished piece can also be embedded in a webpage or viewed on a separate page. (Here’s the link to the URL for my interactive article: https://www.genial.ly/58778572233b570ad890b5f7/digital-artefact).
So that’s how I did it – but what is the result? What difference does this tagging and annotating make?
I believe that it helps the reader understand the content of the article better. Firstly, it makes the reading experience more interesting and exciting and as a result, one is more likely to read the article to the end rather than merely scanning it.
Secondly, it provides more context to the story. When a reader sees images and reads descriptions of an organisation, event, person, etc. mentioned in the article, it provides him with additional background information without his having to research it himself. The annotations add an extra layer to the article: it is no longer static text, but dynamic and interactive.
An interactive article is, of course, a piece of e-literature. Something like this could not be created on paper. It is text that takes advantages of its digital enivironment and allows for features that are unique to the digital domain.
Galway Independent (2017), Galway 1916 Website Wins a National Award. Available at: http://www.galwayindependent.com/news/topics/articles/2017/01/04/4132527-galway-1916-website-wins-a-national-award/ [last accesed 12th January 2017]
WikiEducator (2007), Digital Artefact. Available at: http://wikieducator.org/Digital_artefact [last accessed 12th Janurary 2017]