Best of the Web – Minnesota Historical Society

I enjoyed reviewing (most of) the websites I selected for this assignment. I tried to take a diverse approach to my selections – reviewing at least one website per category.

My favorite website nominated in Best of the Web is the Minnesota Historical Society’s “Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees.” The site collects oral histories that discuss and educate about the Asian experience in Minnesota; the target audience is teachers and students grades 4-12. I found these stories fascinating and the design of the website to be inviting. I thought the website was effective at making its educational mission accessible as well as engaging. Upon my first tour of the website, I clicked on the left hand links that instruct on how and why to make your own oral history, I found it a little frustrating that each was linked to a podcast, but the more I explored the site, the more valuable I thought that feature is, since it demonstrates how easy it is to make your own podcast and encourages participation.

I enjoyed the tagging function for accessing individual oral histories. Histories are listed on the left of the page, and there is a tag cloud on the right, and each oral history has multiple tags. I couldn’t tell for sure, but it appears all of the tagging is done by the staff at the MHS.

Additionally, there is an interactive map that links the histories to the specific locations the speakers have immigrated from – a function I found to be innovative in providing context to the students and therefore making them more accessible.

I also reviewed a selection of Mobile applications, which I don’t personally use. However, the Golden Gate Park Field Guide application made me want to buy an iphone and head to San Francisco. The features were amazing – I especially liked the self-made itineraries and wildlife spotting functions. Totally worth the $3.99. Another nominee I think is worth mentioning is the BBC’s “History of 100 Objects” podcast, which I enjoyed so much, I subscribed to it.