It occurs to me that I should have been blogging the process of building Nineteenth-Century Disability: A Digital Reader, all along. But the truth is, there were moments early on when I felt too at sea to crystallize what I was learning. So, better late than never. I’ll write here presuming that you know as little as I did about getting a digital project started when I began, though really, that standard is so low you’d just have to know how to word process and blog with WordPress to be caught up to where I was. I hope that’s encouraging for those of you thinking of starting a digital humanities project and not scary!
Once you’ve chosen Omeka, the next choice point is whether to use Omeka or Omeka.net.
Omeka.net is hosted for you using Amazon Cloud services (like starting a WordPress blog hosted by the people at WordPress). It is great because you can just get up and go at absolutely no cost. The downside is that, as with a WordPress site that the company hosts, you can’t change much about the look of your site or do as much to customize it because you don’t have access to the files behind the scenes on the server.
How to get that access? Buy some server space and host your content management system yourself, in this case Omeka.org. Server space comes very cheap. I’m paying about $9/ month at DreamHost, which I chose because they were recommended by Omeka. I’m also hosting this site on the space and another personal site for a friend, so the $9 is well worth it indeed. You’ll just have to pay about $10/year for the domain names (i.e. www.karenbourrier.net here) for any additional sites. I toyed with the idea of using institutional server space, but my affiliation with Western ends this semester as I move back to Boston University, and I wanted space that I would have complete control over even as my postdoc ended. Depending on your institution, you may get server space but not access to the server and the files, and you definitely want that access if you are going to be playing with your site yourself. Of course, if you are feeling quite permanent at your institution and are happy with the server space and access they can offer, then by all means go that route. I think though, that you wouldn’t be sorry to have a little server space to call your own, and Omeka itself is free so that’s the only cost.
DreamHost has a one-click install of Omeka, which was the path I took, though I’ve since learned that installing things yourself just involves patience and reading directions. Patience and an ability to follow directions (and tolerate some frustration) are two big take aways for me from this process.
I’ll blog next week on what I did once I got Omeka installed!