Building the Digital Lincoln  •  digital history project, september 2009

Digital Toolbox

Most of the material presented in “Building the Digital Lincoln” site has been powered by open-source or free software. The following list of some of the best of these tools is presented in the hope that it might encourage or assist collaborative projects between digital humanists and historians. The era of the digital Lincoln should signal the coming of age of do-it-yourself digital historical scholarship that will aid scholars in their research (by making primary sources and data more accessible).

Drupal is a free open-source Web-based content-management system that provides a powerful tool for publishing and organizing data of all types. Written in PHP with database storage dynamically retrieved and presented on the Web in customizable “views,” Drupal is the central management system of the House Divided Project at Dickinson College as well as scores of other well-known organizations.

A free Microsoft product, Photo Story allows users to create slideshows of digital images and enhance them with special effects, creative captioning, soundtracks, and voice narration. A particular advantage for novices is that Photo Story is easy to learn and requires no complicated skills to complete an impressive documentary presentation.

Standing for “Semantic Interoperability of Metadata and Information in unLike Environments,” SIMILE is a multifaceted project from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology seeking ways to enhance the way various digital assets can work together across the Web environment.

Wordle is a tool that enables users to make analysis of any body of text. Wordle’s swift digital reading provides “word clouds” that highlight the words that appear most frequently in speeches, essays, or any other writing. Free to download and use, resulting images can be saved, printed, or shared with other users in the Wordle online gallery.

YouTube is the most popular hosting service for online video in the world. Founded in February 2005, the service allows for the simple upload and sharing of video clips, either on the YouTube site or through embedding capability across the Internet.

Zoomify technology is revolutionizing the presentation of imagery on the Web by making it possible to zoom and pan quickly across very large image files. By fully loading only the portions of the map or photograph being viewed at one time, Zoomify provides fast, interactive viewing. Free to download, Zoomify works wherever a Flash Player plays.