important lessons learned by a novice in digital heritage preservation
For the novice computer programmer or coder, the digital preservation process can be very educational. Yet, it can also be very frustrating. The most difficult part for me was actually getting started building the platform to present the cultural heritage being preserved. I had downloaded the files for the platforms I want to work and experiment with following the directions to a tee. However, I was stuck. What do I do now? Where do I begin? Two very simple, yet complicated questions. A fumbled around for about two weeks, not really making progress. I began to grow weary; I was having major problems that required minor solutions. Spending much of the time data collecting, I became accustomed to working alone, problem-solving on my own and planning on my own. Asking for help did not readily come to mind. After realizing I needed help, I found myself apprehensive because I did not know what to exactly ask people when I asked for help. All of a sudden, those two previously stated important questions seemed quite silly. I was embarrassed. It is here that a lessoned was learned. Humility and thick-skin are important.
I reached out to two people that helped me greatly. I wanted help and insight from two perspectives: a programmer’s and a fellow colleague who is more advanced in several of the platforms that I am working with. I also wanted a diversity of world-view in any fashion I could configure, because ultimately world-views effect how we engage in problem-solving processes. As a result, I consulted one woman and one man. Their advice proved invaluable. The very first step I needed to do was place a specific aspect of my data in a form that I could conceive it being displayed, presented and aggregated. That simple exercise actually formed the basis of the questions that the programmer could assist me in. First, I needed to assure that the code and files I had was not the issue. Secondly, I needed to convey how I wanted to display, present and aggregate my data to the programmer and confirm if the skeletal codes I was building around were not flawed or errand. The answers to ‘What do I do now? Where do I begin?’ did, indeed, get me started.
What I thus far have learned, as I transition from data collector to a curator of a “Virtual Black Romulus Cultural Heritage Map (VBRCHM),” is that one must never be afraid, embarrassed or hesitant to ask for help. By definition and nature, projects such as mine are collaborative by nature. Asking questions about coding, design, aesthetics and etc are vital and intrinsic to the character and success of the project.