Planning a Digital Study

Fran Adams

Once a collector turns to exhibiting, the requirement to increase one’s philatelic knowledge expands exponentially, typically as a result of the need to display that knowledge to further an award level. Accumulating reference material is not the goal of the exercise. The references must be organized, indexed and readily available to support your information needs.

Accessibility of information is the most important element and electronic media is one way to make your knowledge requirements quickly available. Digital references can be invaluable information organization tools, especially if they’re portable and cross platform. Once assembled, digital information can also be published for public consumption in the forms of printed matter, slide shows, digital philatelic studies (DPS) or references, distributed on compact disc or through the World Wide Web.

Building a DPS or digital reference requires planning, organization, a logical structure and personal effort. Hopefully, this series of articles will benefit interested readers as they contain steps I’ve found valuable in producing such electronic philatelic presentations and references.

Defining the Project Scope

In 1999, I began with the idea that an electronic philatelic exhibit would be valuable if I could integrate additional information. Thereafter, imagining how comprehensive it could be and what types of data it might include produced a goal of a full-bodied reference machine. As with most labors of love, my visions were greater than my expertise. I was forced to confront unforeseen obstacles but continued as this was something I really felt would be both interesting and useful.

That early digital exhibit has since grown into the proportions originally envisioned and become a digital philatelic reference (Bone and Stone) rather than a 16 page digital exhibit with a bit of support material. I’ve since promised myself that for future projects, I would be more thoughtful in regard to my personal ambitions.

You may be thinking the challenge of building a digital reference is too great a task.If that’s true – you’ve successfully constructed a self-defeating wall – start with individual tasks to achieve the end goal. You’ll be surprised how fast a simple thing grows in the world of digital philately.

Perhaps you also believe you’re unable to do this alone. There are plenty of other collectors interested in sharing information and expertise. Find someone with similar interests whom you admire and would like to work with. Ask if they might be willing to join forces and produce a joint work. If there’s more than only one person, that’s fine. Joint projects can mesh the knowledge and talents of many individuals into a greater whole. (Finally, a use for those techie guys…)

The Nuts and Bolts

The how-to is variable depending on your goal. The items you’ll need are:

Hardware —

  1. Computer, and
  2. Printer, and
  3. Access to a Scanner or Digital Camera, and
  4. Supplies — ink, labels, CDs.

Software — Microsoft, Adobe or others

  1. Word Processing software (MS Word), or
  2. Presentation software (MS PowerPoint), or
  3. Page Layout software (Adobe InDesign), and
  4. Graphics software (Adobe Photoshop Elements).

Other Essentials —

  1. Time — each of us has some,
  2. Information and Knowledge — of the subject area, and
  3. Philatelic Material — your collection and other images.

All but one of these items is straightforward; most people have misgivings about the second – software. You believe you need to be an expert user of PowerPoint or whatever software you have, right? Wrong.

Doing a Google search for a “free PowerPoint tutorial,” I found a large number of quick lessons that were graphical and free. I’ve used both free and paid (Lynda.com) online graphic tutorials and they do help. Other resources are the local adult education classes, or, if you’re really having trouble and need an in-house expert, ask the grandkids!

Most high-end programs come with online tutorials. The XXX for Dummies series (Wiley Publishing, Inc.) and Visual Quickstart Guides (Peachpit Press) books are also excellent resources.) Another consideration is publication production costs. If you burn a CD for distribution and add a plastic case with a printed label, a single finished CD is less than $3 for materials, including label, printer ink, and electricity.

I’d like to encourage all collectors and exhibitors to share their knowledge by building digital philatelic studies, electronic exhibits, and/or reference documents.

Use the software you are most comfortable with as familiarity, aside from being a main concern, allows you to concentrate on the content. Each method has its benefits and practicalities and learning about the areas you’re not familiar also brings great satisfaction. End of article marker.

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