Telephonic Supplychains Siteindex


The main page for the site would feature a slideshow that would show a few different interaction opportunities. Some of the items in the slideshow would directly feature some of the long form pamphlets and content, showing scans of the front covers or other highlighted pages that suggest the content associated with each material. In addition to rotating through these, I think it might also be valuable to demonstrate the kind of search and browse capability, for example showing a view of the map or the timeline in addition to featuring particular materials.

Navigation on the font page will include a link to the about page (which includes context for research and historigraphic overviews, as a subpage, and project ideas, as a subpage), the segmented search bar, a link to the overview of the collection, a link to the geographic page, a link to the timeline, and a link for the general browsing of materials in the collection.


A segmented search bar will be prominently displayed on the site's overall navigation, but there will be a link through to a detailed search page. This page will include the segmented search, in addition to some search tips that describe any of the logical features of the search system (conjunctive searches, etc.).

The segmented search bar will offer a keyword search, a geographic, and temporal limiting box. For example, one would be able to search for "wire production" in the "Southern United States" for the year 1927. Because many of the documents are printed, there is a good chance that they can be reasonably OCRed. From the presentation of materials on the index, and the freeform search box, the expectation will be that the user will percieve that the information is searchable by fulltext, and that it is in fact reliably searchable by fulltext.

Collection Overview

Since the site is essentially a virtual collection, where some material has been scanned and other material is crossreferenced to other archives, it makes sense to include a collection overview page that lists all of this information. This page provides references for all of the archives from which material is drawn, providing links to visit the appropriate web pages and finding guides for those collections. The material that has been digitized, and is made directly available on the site, is linked as such, while other material is described in some detail (similar to a good finding aid) and linked directly to the collection page or archive description at the corresponding archive. In some cases (particularly with regard to the corporate archives), there is little to no web presence for the archives themselves. In these cases, a summary description of the archive is linked to with relevant contact information for the archivist. This page is presented as a curated and ordered lists, chronologically ordered and grouped by archive. This same information is also available in other browse pages, search results, etc. and in these cases is ordered and grouped by the critera of the browse or search. The last section of this page provides a few links and references to other related (but not indexed) collections and sites.


Because the collection is a somewhat specialized one, the goal of the about page is not only to describe the method of the project, the means and circumstances surrounding it and so on, but to provide additional context into the goals of the kind of research that could be done with the collection. This includes some information on the research context and historiography (as a subpage) and some project ideas for student research (as a subpage).

Context and Historiography

Part of this is describing the motivation behind doing Actor-Network Theory work, supply chain studies, and constructing historic material networks. The other half of this is describing the historiography of the telephone, providing some references and pointers to the scholarly work done on the history of telephonic communication over the last few decades.


One of the significant features of the site is the emphasis on geographic presentation of the materials. In many cases, the materials are drawn from production facilities, operators, and companies with dispersed geographic positions throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Once these materials have been tagged with geographic locations (from which they were produced, or which they describe) we can represent that on a map interface that allows users to select information with regard to this geography. For example, someone interested in wire production in the Southern United States may see a number of points indicated on that region of the map. These points will differ in design with regard to the nature of the material, and if they are descriptive or productive. In this example a pamphlet produced in the Southern United States that describes cotton production and cotton picking, a relevant material for the investigation of wire production, would be evident in its placement and presentation on the map.

Browse and Timeline

This page offers a sortable, filterable listing of the items in the collection. While it is similar to search, it is more constructed, in the sense that there are groupings and views that are not otherwise available in the search interface. This includes browsing the collection by tags (such as its material tag, its geographic tag outside of the map context, its production process tag), a timeline that chronologically lays out the material, and selections by the type of content.

Individual Materials

To briefly describe individual material pages, the basic metaphor that the user should encounter is that they have moved into a material from the page that brought them to it. For example, bringing up a material from the geographic interface contains a link that would return them to the map in the same state they left it. Similarly, viewing a material from the browse page would contain the sequential navigation of that page at the top of the material, allowing users to move through sets of materials.

Because many of the materials are printed, I think that an overlayed OCR presentation on the image is a reasonable technical solution. So long as the scans are legible, users will be able to select and search the invisible overlayed OCR text as though it were standard textual content, while being presented with the item as it was originally published or produced.

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