HistTech: Jurassic Coast Fossil Finder

One of the new features I would like to slowly roll-out is one called “HistTech”. This is simply my way of highlighting some digital history projects, exhibits, and other resources which bring together historical content and technology. I have chosen these sites because they allow users to engage with the site materials beyond simply viewing, zooming, and printing the collections. Here are the criteria I am using to determine if I feel the site is a valuable resource:

How does this digital history site/project allow users:

1. To participate in building the collection?
2. To interact with the collection? With other users? With staff and/or content experts?
3. To access further resources for research?
4. To provide feedback? To know their feedback is being used?
5. To navigate digital collections and content?

No site is required to meet all five of my criteria. These are just guiding questions I asked myself before sharing these resources with all of you. That being said, I would like to start with the first project: the Jurassic Coast Fossil Finder.

The Fossil Finder is a project that is part of the Jurassic Coast: Dorset and and East Devon World Heritage Site in the United Kingdom. It is a searchable database of over 1000 fossils found in museums in Dorset and East Devon. According to the website, the database received funding from Arts Council England and supported by the Dorset City Council.

What I really like so far from looking at the landing page for the tool is that it provides a good introduction to what the website is about in addition to who funded it. I also appreciate that they provide a variety of ways to access the collection. One has the ability to search the collection, browse designated favorites, and even see 360-degree views of selected fossils. I decided to check out the Honiton Hippo jaw. This entry gives some facts about the object as well as place it in context from the time period from which it originates. If you click “Discover More Here”, then you can find out even more information including some of the object metadata.

On the whole, I really enjoy this digital collection because it allows users, including those outside the Devon area, to learn about and view fossils from prehistoric times. What I also appreciated was the ability to provide feedback, particularly if one knows more about some of the fossils. The site admits that some of their artifacts do not contain a lot of information. The Jurassic Fossil Finder benefits both the Jurassic Coast website and the general public. I encourage you to check this out for yourself!

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