Tag Archives: Travelogue

[Cross-posted] The conundrum of public creation

In the first blog post for our Travelogue: Mapping Literary History project “Welcome to Travelogue” written by our great Project Manager Sarah, she talked about the excitement the group felt at embarking on this project and our eagerness to learn new things and to create a great digital project. She was speaking the truth; we are all excited about working on this project.

For me, as the web site developer, the first thing I had the opportunity to learn was WordPress. The idea was that I would create a meta-blog site and the whole group would use the site to blog and post about the process we were all going through to create out project, “Travelogue – Mapping Literary History”. The process of creating this meta-blog site would give me the opportunity and a place where I could learn and play with WordPress so that when I had to create the official web site for our actual public project, I’d be comfortable and familiar with the CMS.

In her post Sarah also referenced a post I had written for our Fall 2013 Digital Praxis seminar, where I talked about not being afraid to fail. While I wrote about not worrying about failing and how the process itself of learning and trying new things was a success, whether the project failed or not, I must admit that while that may sound good, in reality it is hard to live that philosophy. I was afraid to fail, I was afraid to create a site which would be less than and to do it in public no less is not easy. It is not easy working and creating “in public” (a phrase our professor Matt Gold likes to use). It is not easy to talk about your worries and concerns in public. In my work life I’ve worked where you don’t show the process to the public, just the results. You know, you don’t want to see sausage being made; you just want to eat the sausage. I had to keep reminding myself that part of this class and project was actually doing a good portion of our work in public and letting the public see what we were doing, the difficulties we were having, along with our successes. Stay tuned for my next post where I will write about some of my failures and successes so far in creating these 2 sites and what I’ve learned so far working on this group project.


[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

Travelogue: Format Selection and Other Updates

The team chose the ESRI ArcGIS Storymaps platform for the Travelogue project.  Last week the team had a vote on which ESRI ArcGIS Storymaps format to go with, the options were:

Sequential, Place-based Narratives Map Tour http://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/app-list/map-tour/

A Curated List of Points of Interest Short List http://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/app-list/shortlist/

Comparing Two or More Maps Tabbed Viewer  http://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/app-list/tabbed-viewer/

Comparing Two or More Maps Side Accordion http://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/app-list/side-accordion

A Curated List of Points of Interest Playlist http://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/app-list/playlist

The winner was…Map Tour http://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/app-list/map-tour/

Each team member has an Esri ArcGIS organizational account that can be used to practice and publish.  With the format selected and a large volume of research content done we can now start building.  The American authors that we have chosen to initially feature are Zora Neale Hurston and Ernest Hemingway.  We have shared Google Drive folders for each that feature spreadsheets with the research collected so far.  The spreadsheet entries are organized with a unified chronological date so that the journeys can be mapped chronologically.  All of the locations on both spreadsheets also have coordinates.

Informational text about each author is being written and audiovisual material to be featured on the Travelogue site is being collected.  Notably, direct links to Hemingway images from the JFK Library’s Media Gallery http://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/Media-Gallery.aspx For the content sources we have chosen to use the MLA citation format.

The Travelogue’s Twitter account has received a few new followers.  Also, a Travelogue tweet was favorited by a San Francisco Chronicle newspaper Book Editor (all acknowledgements count).  The Twitter logo has been redesigned.  The look of the Twitter page has been updated to reflect the biblio and cartographic aspects of the project. Check it out @dhtravelogue

The team is looking forward to providing a status update presentation to the DH Praxis class on Monday, March 24th.

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

Finding a Home: Travelogue Picks a URL

The Travelogue team has been navigating the URL waters (travel puns abound but URL names do not).  By Monday, March 17th the URL had been decided upon and purchased.  Details soon to follow (we will let you know when to begin the drum roll).

Other updates: On the Travelogue’s Commons page the Twitter feed has been updated removing the icons and making it more text based.  The team is also choosing between paper texture images to be used for the Travelogue’s Commons site background, consulting with guides on 2014 web design trends.  We have been actively working on the Zotero citations for the content that will be featured on the Travelogue site.  Meet-ups outside of normal class hours have been scheduled.  We have been outlining the research that has been done so far and what needs to be worked on.  Zora Neale Hurston and Ernest Hemingway are the two American authors that the Travelogue project will initially focus on.  Research wise, we are currently working on historical context, researching what was going on in the locations that they traveled to during their time there.

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

It’s a Two-Fer!

Travelogue group members
Sarah – Project Manager
Amy – Technology and Design
Melanie – Outreach and Communication
Evonne – Research
Adam – Technology and Design

Last week, due to illness, the Travelogue’s outreach and communication person was ironically silenced.  However, that means this week there is twice as much Travelogue team blog fun to catch up on!

Travelogue’s Twitter page has a great new logo courtesy of Adam.  Initially, we had encountered an issue with the size of the first Travelogue logo not looking great sized down for Twitter.  Adam also created the Travelogue logo that appears on the Travelogue’s Common’s page.  Throughout the design process, Adam shared drafts for input from the group.  Amy has been hard at work on the design and content of the Travelogue’s Common’s page.

Last Monday on March 3rd the team, sans one under the weather outreach and communication member, presented an update on the project status to the DHPraxis class.  In preparation, Sarah created an action plan outlining how each team member could explain the progression the team has made so far.

Sarah met with our DH Praxis professor Matt Gold to go over the scope of the project and get his input on the current ideas the team has.  Sarah is working on the Travelogue website’s wireframe and created a mock up of the layout.  Also, she is continuously working on the project plan.  The team has been actively communicating, to organize the communication and each team member’s responsibilities, Sarah established an Asana page for the team.

Evonne has been compiling research resources, organizing the research conducted, what needs to be further researched and maintaining citations in a Travelogue Zotero page.  Using Evonne’s extensive research as a guide and the Gale database Directory of Special Libraries and Information Centers, Melanie has been reaching out to multiple academic institutions.  The preliminary goal is to introduce the Travelogue project, request info on the usage of content (for example from the Library of Congress) and building relations from there.  Through the Travelogue Twitter account Melanie has followed organizations working on mapping projects  and will be actively working creating engaging content in the pursuit of followers.

The team has been exploring ArcGIS Story Maps as the mapping tool for the project.  A schedule of meetings outside of class is being established as to best collaboratively brainstorm face to face.  The team is looking into whether Travelogue will be paralleling the travel narratives of the chosen authors (Ernest Hemingway and Zora Neale Hurston), literally displaying the travel trajectories of both on the same map?  Or, will each author’s journey be depicted on a separate map?  The website’s URL is also currently being decided upon.

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

Travelogue team journal post #2

Travelogue group members
Sarah – Project Manager
Amy – Technology and Design
Melanie – Outreach and Communication
Evonne – Research
Adam – Technology and Design

Monday, February 24th

Since the last class meeting, the Travelogue team has decided to focus on two American authors, Zora Neale Hurston and Ernest Hemingway.

Amy has created the Travelogue Commons site, which includes photos of the two chosen authors, the Travelogue logo, Twitter button, contact form (including a Travelogue gmail account) and a bio page featuring photos of the Travelogue team members.  Each team member has been working on a short bio and those will be posted soon.  The Travelogue email includes a signature with the team’s Twitter handle.

Evonne has created a research plan for the project and added it to the Travelogue Google Drive folder.  She also created a Zotero folder for the project, as to track resources and references. Evonne will cross post the resources and references in the Google Drive folders for each author.

Adam has updated the Travelogue logo that can now be seen on the Commons site and soon on the Twitter page.  He has continued to research Omeka+Neatline.  Adam is exploring HTML, CSS and other resources that will be helpful once a mapping platform has been chosen for the project.

Sarah has organized a consultation meeting for the team with Steven Romalewski.  The goal is to decide on a mapping platform that fits the Travelogue project scope.  Sarah has also provided the team with a list of “action items” and organized a schedule of weekly check-ins for the team.

In thinking about Travelogue as a pedagogical tool, but also an accessible resource for those outside of an academic environment, I have been exploring how to identify who the target audience is.  I have been using the Journal of Digital Humanities as a resource to research best publicity practices for a DH project.  I have continued to document the Travelogue team’s progress in journal posts and updated the team’s Twitter.


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

Travelogue team journal post #1

Travelogue group members
Sarah  – Project Manager
Amy  – Technology and Design
Melanie  – Outreach and Communication
Evonne  – Research
Adam  – Technology and Design

The Travelogue project will disrupt and broaden the expatriate narrative, while at the same time compiling American literary travel narratives and timelines with web mapping.  Mapping these journeys for display on an interactive website will provide both a visual and theoretical representation of modern literary movements in America, enabling the humanities community to gain a broader understanding of the history and underlying structure of these works.  It will also act as a pedagogical tool, allowing students to see narratives and literary movements represented through interactive, visual means, and as a general source of information for a wider public audience.

Thursday, February 20th

The team has been off to a successful start, communicating consistently through the Travelogue CUNY Commons group page that Amy created.  As a group, we have been discussing what the scope of the project is and what we would like it to look like.

Sarah created a Google folder for the project.  The folder features the project plan Excel spreadsheet and sheets for info on each of the four authors Travelogue will feature.  Sarah has been providing an outline for the project scope, noting details of the author’s “life journey” that Travelogue should be highlighting.

We have been exploring a diverse list of American authors that have traveled substantially and or lived abroad.  This week we plan on solidifying the list of four authors.  Zora Neale Hurston http://chdr.cah.ucf.edu/hurstonarchive/ and Ernest Hemingway http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/The-Ernest-Hemingway-Collection.aspx will most likely be featured.  Evonne has been researching the authors, narrowing down the list to authors that fit the Travelogue criteria, and have the greatest volume of digital content available.  She has created a Google doc with the data collected.

Amy and I have been researching tutorials and guides for the possible platforms.  We have been sharing the info and links on the group’s Commons page.  Amy and I have also researched possible authors to feature, focusing on female authors.  I created a Twitter account for Travelogue and shared the account info with the group.  During the next collaborative class session, I will inquire as to what the best practices are for sharing project progression details publicly through social media.

Possible platforms the group has discussed:

– CartoDB
– Mapbox
– Google Maps + Google Fusion Tables
– Omeka + Neatline

Adam sketched a logo for Travelogue.  We all agreed it was great.  He has scanned it and has been actively sharing drafts of the logo with the group as he works on the design.  Adam has also been researching Neatline+Omeka, along with other platforms and tutorials.  The group is looking forward to consulting with Steven Romalewski on which platform would be best and most feasible within the scope of the project.  The front runner, platform-wise, has been Omeka+Neatline.  Sarah has also been researching CartoDB, its functionalities and  the cost involved in the usage of CartoDB.

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