I have honestly been surprised by how much enjoyment can be had in the process of creating the small digital projects we have worked on so far this semester. It is really stimulating to work collaboratively, troubleshooting and engaging creatively about digital spaces that many of us interact with regularly without thinking much about. Initially, I worried that I would find the technical aspects of learning and using coding languages to be a tedious slog, even if a useful skill. To my delight, I have enjoyed learning so far and am starting to really appreciate the opportunities that such skills can afford at even a basic level. Having an introduction to doing things like creating a website with interactive components or understanding that there are javascript libraries available open up an entirely new platform on which to engage with aspects of culture that we find meaningful. At the same time, I have to acknowledge that doing this without others’ input and knowledge would, for me, be nearly impossible. While there are tutorial materials available online, these cannot replace collaborative learning. This has made me wonder what kind of experience this fellowship would be if we were able to work together in person, as is usually the case.  

One of the commitments of the CHI initiative is to foster a collaborative working environment, where members of the cohort actively rely on the collective knowledge and expertise of the group to solve technical problems in the creation of impactful digital spaces for diverse cultural heritages. It has been a challenge, however, to communicate openly and freely given the mandatory sequestration required due to COVID-19. Where communication can be immediate and problems attended to in real time when working face-to-face, the mostly asynchronous nature of digital communication we are currently relying on because of social distancing has significantly altered the ease with which collective problem solving can be done. There is a sense of working together, alone. This observation has given me pause to think about how my own project might be interacted with by remote individuals as I start to consider the range of its functionality and its content. I think that an attention to engendering a sense of inclusivity while being alone is something that is important for digital engagement and to digital heritage projects.