The Trials and Errors of a Digital Humanities Project
Last week marked an end to my Cultural Heritage and Informatics Initiative Fellowship. Although this also marks the technical end to my project, Sixteen Tons, I really view it as the start of what I hope will be a continually expanding project. In hindsight, many of the aims of the project, including a collaborative component and lessons plans, were a bit ambitious. I have to agree with Katy’s advice to new fellows – struggle with this project, because you will. In my head, I imagined a much longer time line of project design and creation, but unfortunately, I hit several technical snags along the way that really hindered my process. I suppose now I can recall Ethan telling us that this was just the start of our projects and we shouldn’t try to expect too much out of initial launch, but I also suppose we all had to experience that on our own.
I would also like to encourage any new fellows that may not be technically savvy going into this project not to be afraid of the technology. I sat in front of my computer for many hours not having a single clue what I was doing with the installation of Omeka. Although I can’t say that I was able to conquer the installation process on my own, like Katy also suggested, I have embraced small victories. Being able to install plug-ins, for example, was a task that was challenging, although not too challenging that I was not able to eventually figure it out. Also, I would highly encourage all fellows to create a small support system for amongst each other. Bounce project ideas off one another and ask people for help and advice.
I’m looking forward to the launching of Sixteen Tons and hope that it proves to be valuable to, not just myself, but for others as well. I hope, too, that it can partly demonstrate the value of digital humanities. I am happy to have my dissertation research and archive materials in the public to share with others and remain a firm believer in the importance of collaboration and open source information.