We are here at the end of a strenuous semester, our projects are mostly finished, exams start this week, and every single one of us is ready to get out of Dodge and enjoy our summers. As such, it is also time for evaluations, reflections, and thoughts on what we could have done better throughout the semester. In this particular reflection, I want to talk about the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival project my group and I have been working on. This has been a considerably long semester for all three of us, and that is only amplified by the fact this project has been wrought with hours of research and figuring out how to build a website. The research portion of this project took place primarily during the beginning of this semester, with a little bit of work going up until just after our spring break. In accordance to our contract, we wanted our research done and organized by March 11th, however that really didn’t come through, and we found ourselves organizing our research well after then. That said, the body of work of our research was pretty sound, so while we may have gone over our self-imposed deadline, it didn’t mean we were lacking in research. As we know of all three members of our group being procrastinators, I’ll be honest and say there isn’t much of a reason to try and defend our contract. While contracts by definitions are not just guidelines, you’ll find just about every student on earth is going to do what needs to be done to complete a project. If that project comes with a contract on which its students are held to requirements, students are likely to work to complete those requirements as best they can, just as we did. Did we complete our work as stated in our contract perfectly? No, we didn’t. Is that our fault? Absolutely, but given that our contracts were created and finalized by us, and we understand each other’s situations, we are going to treat this contracts with a sense of flexibility and leniency. Really the only thing we lived up to from our contract was what we actually had put onto our website. We stuck with our intended information and what we wanted to use to display that information. For instance, we stuck with our idea of using a timeline to display the history of the festival, and we stuck with using information on Bascom Lamar Lunsford and providing the games programming teams with useful information for their project as well. Our contract doesn’t state what would necessarily be on the pages of the website, just what the pages would be. We stuck with the Bascom Lamar Lunsford page, the Timeline of the festival, the music, the honor roll, and page on the dancing aspect of the festival. In that sense, we didn’t deviate from what our contract stated, yet because of the lack of what’s on the contract, the argument could be made that the contract is weak and thus our project is weak. We all stuck to what we would say we would do, more from verbal contracts than the written contract. We all are comfortable with holding ourselves accountable for any miscues or mistakes made, but there hasn’t been a problem with it yet.
As we mentioned in class, digital citizenship is a very interesting topic. As social media continues to expand in our generation, more and more people are utilizing the internet. You can build your own marketing campaign online, find ways to get around your city with rideshares, and keep connections with old friends, classmates, and colleagues. Growth in social media is sometimes scrutinized however, as issues of how it affects its users and the rise in “social justice” where social media platforms act as launching pads for campaigns speaking out against a number of issues. Obviously when social media is used to speak out against something that someone likes, it can lead to disorder and arguing. While you’d hope people could handle an online argument like grown adults, they often can’t, just like real life. As mentioned in the “Internet Famous” article, social media can also spread acts of violence. The argument here being that social media creates a toxic cycle of material that goes viral, and is especially used to target women in industries. People say terrible things to other people, especially women, over the internet, as if Twitter or YouTube creates some field of anonymity. The internet should never be used for things like this, however as long as an overbearing misogynistic society exists it WILL continue to happen. Digitial Citizenship should be about users being able to grow and flourish as humans, much like you would expect from global citizenship.
So, there’s certainly a lot to this project we’ve been working on, and that means there’s a lot of room for failure. For example, there’s room for miscalculations and procrastination, missed research oppurtunities and not getting along with group members, but part of human nature is knowing how to adapt. For example, a productive failing would be learning from mistakes. If you make a mistake in your research, make note and practice on limiting that mistake. Know where it comes from. Is it from a simple misreading? Is it from over-analyzing? Whatever the cause, identify it and learn from it. To fix a problem at its source allows you to not worry about the same problem down the line. One failure I always struggle with is procrastination. I always seem to find myself with things at the last minute, and it’s a failure that has plagued me from years. But because of this, I can still manage to be productive. In a weird way, I can manage to work well under pressure. While it is more productive to not be under pressure in the first place, I no longer stress out with it. As far as the project goes and productive failure, I struggled to get in research early, either due to sickness or other problems, but it gave me more of a drive to knock out more research later on in the cycle. Knowing that I had to catch back up to make life easier for my group members allowed me to basically clock in some overtime to get things sorted out on my end. In my eyes, that’s productive failure.
So this past week was for both group meetings and meeting with the game science class, who are creating an interactive for our website. The meeting went pretty well, just helped us to narrow down our research even further and focus on the website creation. When we met with game science, they seemed to like what we had going on and we checked out some of the work they’ve done for their course so we have an idea on what to expect. I went over with one of our groups a pretty nice idea for an interactive where the user plays a controllable figure and learns more about the music and dance of the festival. I for one am quite a fan of this idea, with the only issue we can really think of is that the game won’t fit on the website. While this would be a pretty big concern we’re all in agreement that it can be done. I always provided them with a list of important people we can use in the interactive and shared our research notes with them as well, so they’ve got more than enough material to use if need be. I’m very excited to see how the partnership between game programming and our own work goes.
So the other week we had a group of high school students who are part of AVID, which is a sort of college prep program for students who may not have equal oppurtunities to go to college as others. Basically what happened was we had 4 students from one of the local high schools come in and meet us in Special Collections, where we then went through and updated them on what it is we’re working on as well the whole process of choosing our projects, what we’ve done so far, and what we’re going to keep doing. For example, we discussed what was in our research boxes in Special Collections, showed the students some of the files they could expect to possibly find. As for an actual progress update, we’ve got a great jump on research and a lot of progress so far, we’re about halfway through our first box which is already wielding a ton of useful information, and I’ve been working on our website as well, but I haven’t pushed out an changes yet. In accordance to our contract, I’ll have some skeleton crew changes pushed out on the 22nd, but I’ve got a feeling it’ll be pretty trimmed out by the time we get to that.
So this was a pretty good work in terms of getting work done on our Mountain Dance and Folk Festival project, mostly because I’ve been able to work on website for the project so that’s been a huge help. By being able to do that know that frees up time for research in later weeks. On top of that, we’ve officially gone over our contracts for our groups and things are looking particularly good for us, we just need to divide the work up still, which won’t be an issue. I’m looking forward to pushing my changes through to the actual website soon.
The other week in class we discussed several mediums that can be used to list information and display them for an audience, particularly StoryMap JS and Timeline JS, which are very easy to use and are perfect for history students. Here are my examples. UNC Men’s Basketball Championships and Places In My Life
Alright so we’ve had another week of brainstorming and research to work through for our project on the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival and things are really starting to work themselves out. We’ve got a lot of good research information to use now, including audio files that weren’t processed originally so we didn’t know we had them at our Special Collections at UNCA, so that’s a huge bump in the right direction for us. On top of that, we worked out a possible interactive with one of the groups, and we’re discussing making a square dancing tutorial/dancing game in order to get a feel for how things are done at the festival. We’ve still got a lot to sift through regarding research and more audio files but things seem to be lined up well for us. As habit, here’s a song for you. Hope you enjoy!
Alright so one of the requirements for this course is to make blog posts regarding different aspects of the course. This first post is about some websites we looked over, both part of the Century America project and some Omeka websites, and I gotta say I was impressed for the most part with the Century America websites. Particularly the ones by UNCA and the Guilded Age Murder. Guilded Age Murder had a particularly interesting map that they had used, which helps get around the city of Lincoln, Nebraska. The only issue I had with it was that there seemed to be no break up of information, despite having a few pages. It was just a wall of text with very little backing up of other components. The opposite is the case for Great War in the Land of the Sky, in which all the information is supplemented nicely with pictures and articles about all sorts of different topics regarding Asheville around the time of the Great War. There is no interactive though, but that’s common for the Century America websites. What I’d also like to do regarding the blogposts is to link some music. I’m going to make this a habit and link what I’ve been listening to while writing the blog posts so hopefully I can spread some good tunes with everyone. Think of it as a sign off of each blog post. Have fun!