Category Archives: Resources & Links of Interest

[Cross-Posting] On Successful #DH Project Management

Project management is difficult. As one of my teammates said to me point-blank: “I would not want your job.”

As our team began to work on Travelogue, I assumed that my brief stint organizing the development of two separate websites in various professional settings would help me. But while a background in marketing has allowed me to think more critically about things like publicity, nothing really prepared me for managing people my own age in a setting where we do not receive salaries for our work.

And while I have been extremely lucky to work with a group of brilliant people who are  invested in helping me complete the project, it has been tricky figuring out how to tell people what (and how much) to do; everyone has full lives outside of school.

In a work setting, orders would coming down from my boss who had little idea of the actual tasks we needed to take in order to complete a website. The details of these orders were laid out for me by advanced IT and design departments, each of whom had their own ideas about how the website should look and behave. In this project, where I am the “boss,” things were more difficult, especially because while all of us have great ideas, the actual means to execution can be unclear. But just because you only have a basic understanding of web design, it does not mean that you can’t build something (mostly) from scratch. You just need a good plan.

Websites and website redesigns can (and do) take years to complete, but for this project, we only have about four months. In the course of this semester thus far, I’ve found that a few things are essential to completing a project successfully. Some seem obvious, but when you are trying to keep a bunch of different wheels spinning, simple things can be easy to forget.

(Of course, this is not complete list)

Know Your Deliverables

What are the major tasks that need to be completed in order to produce a final project? In the course of a semester, what needs to be completed from week-to-week in order to get things done? Setting some key deadlines, and being able to adjust them, will help the project move forward. I made a simple project plan in an Excel document that was arranged by week, with a new goal for each Monday. From there, I doubled back and talked to my group members about what needed to be completed for each goal. I am indebted to Micki Kaufman for major assistance here, as well as to Tom Scheinfeldt’s lecture last semester.

Use Your Support Network

There are experts at your school who can help you. As it goes with everything, being afraid to ask for help can (and will) diminish your success.

Know Your Team’s Strengths (and Weaknesses)

Project management involves a good deal of emotional intelligence. Knowing where your group members are coming from, and being aware of and sensitive to what they can and can’t accomplish in a given time frame, will provide for a better outcome. It kind of goes without saying that actively listening to your group members’ concerns and ideas will make them more invested in your goals.

Be Flexible

This goes for allowing extra time in your project plan, as well as being open to adjusting your vision and/or timeline. It can be hard to let go of original ideas, but if they aren’t working, it’s important that you are able to recognize that and just let go. In the case of Travelogue, our project scope changed slightly from what I originally proposed when we learned more about our platform. You also have to pad enough extra time in your project plan in case you hit roadblocks or an unexpected learning curve.

Relax (a Little Bit)

In working on a major project with a tight deadline, not only is it important to manage your expectations, but it is also important not to put too much pressure on your group. My personality defaults to surface-level relaxation that can be misinterpreted as lackadaisical, when usually (like anyone else) I’m managing a huge amount of internal stress. I try not to micromanage my team as a result of my internal freakouts, which would make anyone stressed-out and disengaged. At the same time, being too lax about deadlines says: “I don’t really care.” If you don’t care, neither will they.

We are currently buzzing around our computers to get this thing done, with constant revision of the plan to keep things in motion.

Visit: https://travelogue.commons.gc.cuny.edu

And here is a link to the project plan for anyone who’s interested: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0As13_khVZTLXdHBMV2NlNWwtTndiRTZsUk1QQTVWYnc&usp=sharing

Collaborative Opportunities

The Travelogue team has been exploring how other sites are using maps as digital pedagogical tools.  We are also connecting with possible collaborators, including other mapping projects, educational institutions and libraries.

In an effort to be participate in the conversations happening on social network platforms, Travelogue has been monitoring how Twitter is being used by similar projects.  We have explored hashtags that are being used in reference to maps, are concerned with literature, teaching, English, History, Social Studies, high school teachers, lesson plans etc.  We have also been following the conversations/posts on the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) site.

On the development front we are playing with several WordPress Child Themes to see which will best work for the Travelogue site and the ESRI Storymap we will be using.  Research wise, we have completed a workable draft of the Ernest Hemingway content spreadsheet which we will use to construct Travelogue’s Ernest Hemingway StoryMap.

The Travelogue Commons site has a Research section that is categorized and features helpul resources, compiled during the progression of the Travelogue project.  For example, Esri Storymaps for Education.

Thank you for following our journey.  We look forward to sharing our connections with others in the GIS world.

If you want to contact us please do. Our project blog is at  travelogue.commons.gc.cuny.edu. Email us at dhtravelogue [at] gmail [dot] com or follow us on Twitter @DhTravelogue

[Cross-Post] Maintaining Documentation is Important – Examples of Online Platforms | Harlan Kellaway

Cross-posted from: http://harlankellaway.com/2014/03/17/online-documentation-platforms/ (March 17, 2014)


Documentation for technical projects — especially ones you envision having non-technical end users — is essential. This statement comes from various experiences, both as a user and a developer who has both produced documentation for such users and has taken over poorly-documented projects from other developers. Having good documentation cuts down on the endless issues that come with figuring out how to use a technical product, whether from the frontend or the backend.

The reason documentation is on my mind is that one of the current projects I’m doing development for, DH Box, is one targeted towards end users of the variety described above. Not only that, but one of the systems integral to the project is a notoriously opaque one: Amazon Web Services. Moreover, it’s a mission of mine in my personal work to explore how tech can be made more accessible to those who don’t deem themselves technically savvy (I consider the technical/non-technical social binary and contributing factors to be problematic — but I’ll save that exploration for a different post!).

This week, I explored some tools that could help maintain the online documentation for our DH Box project, with a few preferences in mind: documentation that is easily updatable, documentation that is browsable and searchable, documentation that is configurable (e.g. in how it looks).

Continue reading

[Cross-Post] Subtle Elements of Online Branding That Can Help the Impression You Make in the Web World | Harlan Kellaway

Cross-posted from: http://harlankellaway.com/2014/03/02/online-branding-subtle-elements-to-help-web-impression/ (March 2, 2014)


I found myself in the midst of an interesting exchange a couple weeks ago — it was over whether Twitter handles should have underscores in them or not. The person questioning the underscores had been told to not use them period, but was unclear on why. It occurred to me that there are many subtle forms of online branding that folks who work on/with the Internet quite a bit eventually pick up, things that are obscure to more general users.

Here are a few examples of such online branding to think about when building an online presence.

Continue reading

[Cross-Post] Website Development for Beginners – Trade-offs Between Jekyll and WordPress | Harlan Kellaway

Cross-posted from: http://harlankellaway.com/2014/02/20/web-development-beginners-tradeoffs-jekyll-wordpress/ (February 20, 2014)


I’ve used WordPress for years as the base for just about every site I’ve created. It had occurred to me occasionally that WordPress may not be the best choice in every website development case, whether big or small, simple or complex. But, honestly, the idea of creating a website that didn’t have a database behind it hadn’t even occurred to me. A website that is almost purely HTML? I had subconsciously equated this with broken links and scrolling banners. I had equated database-backing with words like easy, maintainable, modern, and extensible.

It’s a clear case of every problem looking like a nail when the only tool you have is a hammer. But what if your problem is a thumbtack? Or a staple? A hammer might work, but it’s most definitely overkill and can even limit your creativity in solving the problem of fastening paper to things.

In terms of website development, WordPress has been my hammer and it’s gotten the job done. But, I had the opportunity the past weeks to use a new tool — Jekyll.

Continue reading

Resources for Film Studies Projects

As I know there are at least a couple other film studies people here, and hopefully others are interested as well, below is a non-exhaustive list of possible tools and/or resources for film analysis. One final note that I would like to add is that I think these tools are productive for stimulating both analytical and creative abilities, the latter of which is often lacking in traditional humanities scholarship and pedagogy.

  • Digital Storytelling & Animated GIFs – digital storytelling seems to be growing in undergraduate and K-12 curriculums. This could be a great tool for humanities-based coursework as it allows students to think differently about how stories and films are constructed. Recording/editing mechanisms are now inexpensive and somewhat ubiquitous, and platforms like YouTube can easily publicize a student’s work. Animated GIFs may perform a similar function. Matt pointed me to Jim Groom’s blog, which is very interesting: http://bavatuesdays.com/how-i-stopped-worrying-and-learned-to-love-the-gif/
  • ClipNotes for iPad – this is a very cool app for doing film studies, though at the moment, it is extremely difficult to share one’s work, and use is obviously limited to iPad owners. http://www.clipnotes.org/
  • Visualization – earlier in the semester we looked at Brendan Dawes’ “Cinema Redux” project, which is perhaps the best example, though varying approaches to visualizing films are possible. http://brendandawes.com/projects/cinemaredux
  • Cinemetrics – this is a great tool for doing film measurement analysis. The website contains detailed information, a database, and some written scholarship on the topic. http://www.cinemetrics.lv/
  • Max 6 – we used Max with Phidgets during Bill Turkel’s workshop earlier in the semester. Max contains several free tutorials on working with video clips in the program. There are some very cool possibilities. http://cycling74.com/products/max/

I hope everyone has a nice break!

The Reverse Midterm

5430419092_479b38c222

Source: “Reverse If,” cc-licensed flickr photo by Sharon Hinchliffe

Given our discussion of DH pedagogy last class, I wanted to share with you a post published today by our colleague Joe Ugoretz, Associate Dean
of Teaching, Learning, and Technology at Macaulay Honors College. In “Reverse Midterm,” Joe describes a recent experiment in the classroom with his students:

I started the class by telling them that I realized that we did not have a midterm scheduled, but we still had to have one, so today was the midterm. [. . . .] but it would be my midterm. They write the questions, I have to answer. I told them they could grade me, too. (this led to some moments of real joy).

Head on over and read the whole post (published, I will note, on the CUNY Academic Commons).

Is this DH pedagogy? Digital pedagogy? Paper-and-pencil pedagogy? I’d posit that such labels matter less than the fact that it is inventive and thought-provoking pedagogy, which is what good teaching should be most concerned with.

Programming in the 19th century

As I was searching more info in of typewriter history I found this fun fact: Today is the day of Ada Lovelace (1815 – 1852) , this british woman is considered as the first programmer, for her work in  creating an algorithm designated for being processed by a machine.  As part of this celebration Brown’s University organized the second edition of the Edit-a-ton, in which women are invited to create or edit articles in Wikipedia about other women whom contributed to Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

You can look for more info in this links:

http://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/lovelace.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/10/15/happy-ada-lovelace-day-go-add-some-nerdy-ladies-to-wikipedia/

 

 

 

Planned Obsolescence

Hello all,

You may already be aware, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s book Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy is available electronically through Project Muse.

Project Muse http://www.nypl.org/collections/articles-databases/project-muse 
*This database is accessible from home with an active NYPL card number

We also have access to Project Muse offsite as CUNY students through the Mina Rees Library http://libguides.gc.cuny.edu/content.php?pid=184234&sid=1548215

If you have any trouble finding it I would be happy to provide instructions with screen shots.

Best,

Melanie