Last week, I got frustrated because Exhibit Builder cluttered my clean layout and navigation. Dr. Kelly told me the name of the theme used in Dr. Greet’s site that I liked. However, he also advised me to focus less on how it looks and more on the content. With that in mind, I downloaded the theme but have not configured it.
Instead, I am updating my metadata. I am changing the titles to English because Americans dislike reading other languages. The subjects will stay as they are. The creator field will now feature the photographer and the original artist. I realized that users would probably be looking for artists in the creator field and are unlikely to know many of the photographers. I also realized that I needed to differentiate their roles with commas instead of parentheses because some artists and photographers use pseudonyms. This need became apparent when I updated the metadata for Die Friedliche Revolution by Fischer-Art. Both the original artist and the street art photographer use pseudonyms. The pseudonyms will go in parentheses behind the artist’s real name.
In addition, I am working hard to update my item descriptions to be less like an archive. Instead, I am now trying to convey what I would want the public to know about the art or East German history or culture through the art. For example, East Germans have a love/hate relationship with some of these works, which comes across well in the description of the Brunnen der Völkerfreundschaft. It has a derogatory nickname but was fully restored in 2022.
I did not think about how much extra effort goes into translating sources, synthesizing research, and reinterpreting it for the public. For example, I have professional experience translating German into English and writing original content in German and English. Therefore, I took for granted that translating German information and writing English content would be easy. However, there are some noticeable differences in the circumstances.
When translating in a professional situation, getting the message across in the moment is often more important than a word-for-word translation. Anyone who has watched UFC post-fight interviews with international athletes will know what I mean. There is an element of “good enough.” My goal when writing translations for documentary films was to make the German content sound like a native English speaker wrote it without making it unintelligible to international audiences.
In both instances, people can ask questions in the moment if they do not understand something. Unfortunately, in digital public history, users seem likelier to click out of the site than ask a question. That creates additional pressure as I struggle through long covid brain fog. My next endeavor will be to add content about East Germany and the artists. I have not decided which I will do first.