There are a variety of public history projects that having a basic digitization can enable. The temptation sometimes is to think that one can only do public history when they have vast resources like the Smithsonian. This perception is fueled by the kinds of large projects that are often sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Yet, one can do good public history even when resources are limited. Domain names are cheap (about $12 a year), hosting is cheap (most hosting providers offer unlimited storage and bandwith for about $300 a year) and most of the content management systems such as Omeka are free. With these, one can build a crowd-source digital project, build a digital exhibit drawing upon one’s personal collection or using photo archives such as Flickr commons, create a digital archive such as the September 11th Digital Archive, the Bracero Archive and the Shelley-Godwin Archive.
Any of these projects can be built using Omeka. I have been collecting items for my Omeka project on development history. I am trying to crowdsource the data and have the people think about the ongoing impact of development schemes. By inviting them to contribute to the project, I am letting them create their own history of the development process. My role is to facilitate and provide a broader context to the history that they are creating. At the end of the day, it is their history and they are best position to tell it.