Digital Skills Reflections


I found HTML useful as it gave experience of designing a website from the ground up, as opposed to website design tools which are more portfolio site (where people just drag and drop content into templates) the benefit of HTML is that it makes the user think about layout and about how page will look online.

I found Code academy useful for learning HTML in way tutorials were structured and in steps, as it would not allow you to the next stage until code was right, which forced me to be more self reflective and also to check what was wrong with the code.



I found Omeka a useful tool for displaying collections and one that I would use in digital artefact because of its ability to form archives, although the way I would envisage using it would be to archive bodies of artworks for example around themes or series of etchings, exhibitions to include all the artworks, press release and associated media.

Projects that I have been involved with, which have had multi media elements:

“New Voice of Ireland 4”: each artist body of work, interviews and podcasts.


“They’ve Taken our Ghettos”: London and Blackpool exhibitions, useful to document all the work in one place, interviews with radio stations, reviews from galleries and media, book reviews and link to buy book.

Separating out all the different strands of work and documentation.

What makes Omeka useful for this is that it makes archiving clearer especially when there is a lot of exhibitions and projects involved as each can have their own respective space rather than having to look around several websites to find information on a project. For example typing an exhibition name into Google would give several pages related to name, but no order and a lot of links, the benefit of using Omeka is that it draws all related content together.

Omeka interface would only allow me to upload one image at a time and stop at twenty before loading again, the interface was a bit confusing to operate and no clear instructions on operating provided.



After initial problems on loading media to Scalar, I found it more useful and diverse for the content and way it could be displayed for example incorporating web articles in their entirety.

While it restricted the size of video files, I found that uploading them first to YouTube, and then downloading them as a multi media file to Scalar was a way around this, and it embedded video into page.

I found Scalar opened up more possibilities for future work on artefact as I began to see the effects.

For each page there is a drop down menu for set up, so you can choose a style for that page and layout, instead of having to manually, shift text and images around.


The Development of HTML 5

This is the fifth version of HTML to be developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which was funded by Tim Berners-Lee and is made up of member organisations who work together for the development of the World Wide Web, it was developed to improve coding language and to keep up with improving multi media and replace HTML 4 which was nearly ten years old and had no way to integrate video into HTML without using plug-ins. HTML 4 could function with simple text and images, but to display video it needed to be embedded with flash players which in turn used up a lot of the processors RAM.

With HTML 5 it is more independent of other devices and less dependant on plug-ins, but also includes several new mark-up tags for example:

<Audio>+<video> for audio and video content

<Article> to isolate a specific part of text, such as in a blog post or a user comment.

Why was it necessary? Apart from fixing problems on the old HTML 4, it improves the quality of content on websites through faster loading times, reduces the amount of bandwidth needed for websites to run and is not as draining on batteries on mobile devices, also reduces the need for updates on plug-ins such as Java and Flash.

Most web browsers are using HTML 5 to some degree as it provides uniformity, in terms of standards to web browsers and design.

It allows Mathml (for presenting mathematical formulae) and SVG (scalable vector graphics) to be displayed within a HTML document.

XML applications can also be inserted into HTML 5, as they are widely used in existing web browsers and easy to embed with HTML 5 and no namespaces needed.


XML (Extensible Mark-up Language)

XML is a mark-up language similar to HTML used to transport data, but different in that it does not use predefined tags, they must be created by the author along with the document structure. XML simplifies data sharing, as it stores data in plain text format and is a software/hardware independent way to store and share data. Both people and machines can read XML, XML data can be stored in XML files separate from the HTML code. XML documents are formed in a tree like structure with root element (bookstore), which branches out to its child elements (books), which can then have elements on the same level (just like brothers and sisters).

A XML document must contain one root element as parent of all other elements, they should be named simply as “book”, and not in format “the title of the book”, most browsers can display XML files, usually with the colour coded elements.

XML can be used to represent any sort of data structure including databases and business information.

One of the best uses of XML I looked at was on “The Letters of 1916”, website which shows the layout and structure of XML beside the original hand written letters of 1916. Although on some of the letters I looked at there seem to be too many line breaks used <lb.> but this is probably reflecting the writing style of the author (wider gaps in places between different words) as opposed to modern day computer edited documents where text would be evenly spaced, but also bearing in mind that people nowadays rarely receive handwritten letters, apart from postcards or birthday cards.

Probably the hardest part regarding coding these letters is deciphering some of the handwriting and formation of individual letters as some letters look like they could be a number of other letters, so really the first task would be to identify each letter through associating them with their use in recognisable words within text.

The most important element about this project is that anyone can transcribe the letters using XML, and edit, providing an opportunity to learn XML in a practical setting along with contributing to the project.


Link to Omeka site


Link to Scalar site


Link to HTML site