In response to feedback from faculty and students, LSA Technology Services has been increasing its support for digital scholarship and digital humanities by piloting services that offer new types of consultations, platforms, and community engagement. Scholars can get assistance using new and existing platform hosting services like web hosting or mapping.
Omeka is a popular website platform used for scholarship in the digital humanities at the University of Michigan. Omeka works as a content management system and database for digital collections. Faculty are able to create online exhibits for their scholarship allowing other scholars to benefit from their research. While Omeka allows for rich media content storage, the content has to be placed on the Omeka server, which quickly fills up when storing video and adds to project costs. This became an issue for Professor Matt Lassiter, who was building an Omeka site for a HistoryLab project. He needed to collect recorded interviews and oral history videos, which quickly took up space on the Omeka server.
Professor Lassiter was working with LSA Technology Services specialists, Joe Bauer and Adam Gerard, who began looking for a solution. Bauer and Gerard recognized that video storage and streaming performance will be problematic as more faculty and researchers begin utilizing the new Omeka S platform. Commercial platforms, such as YouTube, were not an option, as many scholars are concerned about privacy and would like to manage their own media and retain ownership of their content. Gerard had prior experience with MiVideo, a Kaltura-powered video hosting platform provided by U-M, but soon discovered that embedding MiVideo content within Omeka S didn’t work out-of-the-box. Google led him to the Omeka S support forums, where he discovered that other institutions had attempted to integrate their Kaltura instances with Omeka S, without success. So Gerard began perusing the Omeka S source code and identified a few issues and questions he thought might be helpful in coming up with a solution. He then reached out to the Omeka development team, whose answers to his questions confirmed he was on the right track, and was ultimately able to modify the Omeka S source code to allow for the embedding and integration of MiVideo content. He then worked with Melinda Kraft, ITS Service Manager for Learning Management and MiVideo. With Kraft’s expertise they were able to create a MiVideo instance dedicated to digital scholarship and supporting research.
Speaking to the value of this integration, Professor Lassiter said, “MiVideo has been a fantastic resource, allowing us to embed short clips from large video files into our Omeka exhibits without going through the time-consuming process of editing and clipping the segment and uploading it into the Omeka items library.” Bauer adds, “Kaltura’s infrastructure is optimized for large-scale media streaming. We are pleased to have found a solution that is available at no additional charge. In fact, to our knowledge, Michigan is the only institution that has successfully integrated Kaltura (MiVideo) with Omeka S.”
The upcoming Humanities Collaboratory funded Documenting Criminalization and Confinement (DCC) project is also using the MiVideo/Omeka integration to enable the presentation of several large videos. Professor Lassiter says, “The DCC project also has 125 media items already on that channel, and we are embedding them into StoryMaps which will be released soon. So we have used MiVideo for three different platforms already, with more to come when our DCC website goes live.”
Additionally, LSA Technology Services has partnered with the U-M Library and now offers a broad range of “getting started” and “how-to” consulting for digital projects, from finding resources and grant proposal support, to planning for sustainability and accessibility of projects. New community engagement efforts include supporting and organizing events like Connecting Digital Scholarship, which brings together scholars and support partners, or workshops like Digital Scholarship 101, which helps scholars avoid outdated projects, unpreserved knowledge, uncredited labor, and privacy or consent issues by emphasizing process in the project life cycle.