Footnote.com was launched early this year as a history site that contains images of original documents. The documents on the web site appeal to historians, history teachers and students, genealogists, railroad enthusiasts, re-enactors, local historical societies, social scientists, and many, many others. Footnote.com also sponsors the Standard Edition of this newsletter.
With help from beta users, Footnote.com was already very user-friendly at the time of its launch. Since then, the programmers have made further improvements to that software, even as the acquisition folks continued to add new content. Today I thought I would mention some of the recent software improvements made at www.footnote.com. These improvements give the user a richer experience in the quality and nature of information and also make that information easier to find. I am especially impressed with some of the ease-of-use improvements made to help users add their own information to footnote.com.
Spotlights allow a user to call attention to something interesting that you find or upload to Footnote. A Spotlight is an easy method of drawing attention to something you deem to be important without writing a long description or adding a lot of detail. With a Spotlight, all you need is a title describing what you found and a short line about why it's interesting. The Spotlights you create instantly become visible to everyone else.
You can see an example of a user-created Spotlight concerning the 70th anniversary of Amelia Earhart's last flight at http://www.footnote.com/spotlight/69/70th-anniversary-of-ameli or the death warrant for accused Salem Witch Rebecca Towne Nurse at http://www.footnote.com/spotlight/4/rebecca-towne-nurse-death. Many more examples may be found at http://www.footnote.com/spotlights.php.
Creating a Spotlight is easy.
- While viewing an image, click the "Spotlight This" button
- If you only want to spotlight a portion of the image, click on the arrow to the right of "Spotlight This" and choose "Select a Portion of Image."
- Click "Continue"
- Enter a title for your Spotlight and, if you like, a short description of what you found or why you think it's interesting.
- Click "Create Your Spotlight"
Title Information Pages
Each title on Footnote now has a Title Information page that includes descriptions, free sample images, the number of images from that title currently on Footnote, and, where available, the completion status for the title. Completion status becomes important for large collections that may require several months to scan, index, and upload. The completion status shows what percentage of the work is already available online.
Title Information Pages also show how site members have been using documents from the title by listing recent member-created annotations, Spotlights, Story Pages, and comments about images in that title.
One good example is the Title Information Page for the American Milestone Documents at http://www.footnote.com/documents/4346686/american-milestone-docume. You'll find links to the Title Information Pages in various places around the site, including the Original Documents page.
Updated Original Documents Page
When Footnote launched its website, the Original Documents page (go to http://www.footnote.com and click on "Original Documents") provided a barebones listing of information available. That display has now been improved to provide a clearer picture of information on the site and to also make it easier to find what you are looking for.
The new page includes a full listing of all the titles available on Footnote, including completion status and short descriptions of each. When you scroll over a title, you'll find buttons to search or browse that title. If you prefer, you can click on the title name to go to the Title Information Page for that title.
The Original Documents page also includes a counter that shows the total number of document images on Footnote, including member-contributed images. The counter is updated every 10 seconds, so you may see it move while you are on the page if documents are being added at the time.
The Profile page now gives a more complete view of what a member has added on Footnote, including uploads, annotations, Spotlights, Story Pages, and comments. You can see this profile information simply by clicking on a member's user name on any page.
Other changes are constantly being made to the web site's software. I suspect I'll be writing about still more improvements in another two or three months. In the meantime, you can always see the latest at http://www.footnote.com.