Done!

I meant to post this earlier in the week but I was a little out of it from my minor elbow surgery. I am pleased with our finished website (and once the corrections have been made it will really be the final product).  I thought our topic was fascinating and it was fun to learn so much about UMW and the history behind the white columns of the buildings.  Throughout the course of the semester we all stepped outside of our comfort zone in order to take on new forms of technology.  I became more familiar with UMWBlogs than I had been, and I also learned a lot about Google Maps.  We definitely learned a lot about digital history and working together to produce a polished product.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to become more hands on with digital history and also to learn the deeper history of the school I love so much.

And it is also exciting that our site may be picked up by the University! :)

Final Reflections

I am very pleased with how our group project turned out. Putting this resource together has been a learning experience for all of us, and pushed us all to try things we never would have done without this project. Despite the learning curve we experienced, our website has become a useful resource for lectures on James Farmer. I think our website will be useful for campus faculty, staff, and students, as well as others off campus who may be interested in James Farmer.

As far as our group contract is concerned, our group met our contractual requirements in all but a few ways. The major deadline we missed was producing the trailer on time. That requirement was entirely my job, and so the blame should not be placed on anyone but me. I got behind on the video trailer project, and ended up posting the trailer over the weekend instead of on the Friday deadline. While there were certainly things that contributed to this delay (there was confusion about if the audio and video matched up, and there were some issues with the video being different qualities from video to video, which meant I had to do some unanticipated conversions) I still did not produce the material on time. However, I am proud of the resulting video. I feel that if I had rushed to produce the video trailer on Friday instead of over the weekend, the trailer would not have been something I would be proud to show to the class. I also tried my hand at creating a graphic opening in After Effects entirely from scratch (something I had never really done before on that scale) and I was extremely pleased with the result. I had fun deciding what music to use; I thought jazz would work well, since it would be period. I used megatrax to find the music; it is a website which allows you to download music for commercial use that I have a subscription to. I also made a shorter version of the trailer so we could show the video during our presentation at the history symposium.

There also were some minor transcript issues Kelsey had to fix after the deadline for the final transcripts had passed. Quite frankly, though, I feel that this is entirely excusable – she transcribed thousands of words, and so realizing she’d made some mistakes and taking the time to fix them I think shows how hard she was working. Also, there was the same confusion over the audio and video I had. We all had assumed that the audio and video were exactly the same; unfortunately, there were some minor but occasionally significant differences. This meant Kelsey needed to transcribe the video separately from the audio, something she had no reason to suspect she would need to do initially. As such, I think her updates show how hard she was working.

As a learning experience, this project was a definite success. This project required that we all learn some new things we’d never done before. I don’t think Laura had ever managed a website before, but I know she put hours into learning and designing the website. The end product is excellent, though, and I think she should be very proud of the work she produced. Similarly, Michelle had never worked with Premiere before, but nevertheless helped me upload the videos to vimeo. She also edited the transcripts, and wrote a lot of the text on the website. Kelsey wrote the transcripts, which was an extremely time consuming task with relative ease. I had worked with Premiere before, but only once (in the History of the Information Age class last semester). I also had created small graphics before in After Effects (like lower thirds) but had never really done a complex opening graphic before. It took a lot of time to do, but I am extremely pleased with the result and I think I learned a lot. In fact, I put the opening graphic into my demo reel. All in all, I think we learned a lot that will prove useful in the future.

This semester, I have been so impressed by my group members – we got along and worked very well together. Kelsey worked exceptionally hard on the transcripts, Laura did a great job designing and taking care of the website, and Michelle worked really hard on uploading, subclipping, editing the transcripts, and managing the vimeo account. Even though we had to tweek our group contact somewhat, I think that we nevertheless produced an excellent resource. We have come a long way this semester, and I am proud of the results.

Final Reflection

This feels slightly weird to already be writing about the end when it feels as though we just started. I am very pleased with our completed project. The processes we went through and all the work we put in paid off tremendously, as our website has become a resource for James Farmer and the Civil Rights movement.

In reference to the contract, my group was able to finish everything as contracted. I made a few minor adjustments to the transcripts after the date they were supposed to be finalized, such as small grammatical errors and a few spelling errors here and there. Also, after the video/audio fiasco, I made transcripts for the videos later than when I was supposed to because I had assumed that the audio and video were the same. I also uploaded all the audio to the site, and, with the help of Tim Owens, managed to get the audio as podcasts in iTunes U. My other contributions were not contractually listed, but I made a map, fliers, proofread, brainstormed ideas for the website and trailer, and helping to set up meetings.  The map links directly to the lectures that the locations are mentioned in as well as giving a brief description of Farmer’s activities while in that location. The fliers attempt to put the viewer as the decision maker and in situations that Farmer faced during the Civil Rights Movement.

Caitlin, Laura, and Michelle have been the best group members. I had never met any of them before this class and surprisingly, we all got along through the whole process. We did not fight about a single aspect of anything, but instead would suggest ways for the other members to improve. Caitlin is a video guru, and she has done remarkable work, stripping audio, making a trailer, designed graphics for the flier, and helping us with any technological problems. Laura did a fantastic job designing the website. I know she put a lot of time into making everything really work well together. Michelle uploaded video and wrote a lot of the sections for the website, including helping me proofread. They put up with my sometimes overextended enthusiasm and my horrible jokes.

The trailer was a secondary goal, and because of a rocky start, Caitlin was not able to finish it on the day it was contracted to be finished. However, the excellent quality of her finished product should be taken into consideration, as had she rushed to finish on time, the trailer would not be as great as it is.

While we may not have met the contract in minor ways, such as having to correct one spelling error in thousands of words of transcripts, I believe this project is very strong. My group members were enthusiastic and always willing to help with anything.  When we wrote the contract, we had no idea what course the project would take. At the time, we were considering re-digitization. Seeing the completed project and knowing people already admire it speaks to the quality of our work, even if we had to tweak the contract in minor ways after it was written.

Reflection

Wow. I can’t believe that its the end of the semester, that our project is, for the most part (barring revisions) completed, that its almost time to say goodbye to something that has become such a part of my life. This project has eaten my life, in a good way. It was rewarding and challenging, but more on that later.

As for what we contracted at the beginning of this semester, I feel that we met and exceeded every goal we laid out in the group contract. We archived all 114 political cartoons, and made five mini-exhibits, which exceeded our original goal of making just one with the Monroe related cartoons. This is thanks to the Omeka interface, which I really pushed for since it had an easy exhibit builder plugin and I was looking forward to putting into practice everything that I was learning about in my exhibition design lab. In such a rewarding way, everything I learn in both classes contributed to my projects for both.

We researched and displayed all the cartoons in a viewable manner, and despite problems with Omeka we managed to have EVERYTHING and more we wanted for the site. We got the mini-exhibits, we got the archive, we got the Timeline (finally!) and the glossary page. By downloading a new theme we got the slideshow and featured exhibits on the home page, and a really easy to use interface. While it does still have glitches in teh exhibit builder, it is worth it to have everything else we wanted. Overall I am very happy with how the site turned out and believe that we fully met and exceeded our goals.

The process this semester, the getting what we wanted part, was long and at times complex. Originally we were researching alot, which almost made us feel like we were behind the other groups, who seemed to focus on building thier site first. However it was the nature of our project. We decided to say somthing about these cartoons, not just throw them up in political cartoon vomit on the screen, which I think was a good choice. Choosing Omeka was a no-brainer for me, but for the others it was a harder sell, especially since we had so many problems moving from omeka.net to omeka.org and organizing our information at first. I was confident however that it would come through and be better suited for our project than wordpress and I’m glad I conviced them to stick with it.

The editing of the cartoons and the labelling was the most time consuming of my personal tasks. While we agreed that each person would write labels and edit the cartoons in their own section, I was tasked with editing the labels and seeking uniformity. As a result I edited almost all 114 cartoons, as we all ahd different programs for editing and I ended up being the one with the more usable programs. It was time consuming and at times a headache, but I’m happy with the results. The cartoons look like new and are easy to view online, one of the main reasons we edited them. Another task of mine was to make a video about the editing process, and while the contract said we’d use imovie, I didnt touch that program. I had Jing on my computer and used it to shoot the video. I then uploaded it to screencast.com from which I copy/pasted the HTML for embedding the video in the site. It was easier than attempting to upload it to youtube and I’m happy with the video quality. The player has volume and fullscreen options, just like youtube, only without all the hassle.

Label writing is an art, and I repsect now even more curators who write them regularly. Reading 114 cartoon labels per day, every day, for finalize them was a trial. The problem with such a dense collection was that some did slip through the cracks, only to be caught and added later. So the label writing process was long and drawn out way past the due date on the contract, but they got done, which is the main thing.

As far as the group work, I feel that as a group we worked together pretty well. We all had our stengths and we all had our faults, mine mainly being trying to take on too much work, because I like doing the museum work that was associated with it, and I liked learning the HTML later on. Rachel L was a fantastic research guru and label writing machine. Her faults was trying to do too much, like me. Andrew had a styleto his writing that was distinct and inviting. His fault, not of himself but of circumstance, was being stretched thin between this class, others, and his 485 project. Heather was the most technologically savvy of us and worked wonders with DTLT and making the Timeline happen and installing all the plugins and working the behind the scenes interface of Omeka. Her fault was the label writing, but she improved greatly after practice.

Overall this process has been so very rewarding. Not only did I learn about all the digital tools needed to create a website, I worked on a digital exhibit, which is a growing concern for many museum. So many lessons I learned from this project, about coding, and visual design of a website, and bringing museum objects to a new interactive space, will only serve to help me when I try to break into the museum field. I’ll be bringing so much experience in a variety of areas with me and so many good lessons. I’d just like to thank Dr. McClurken, for opening my eyes to the world of Digital History, and for making me take this incredible journey, both inwards and out.

Final Project

Last night we made the corrections to our site, and now it’s finished! It is a really exciting project and I’m proud of all the work my group put into it. Also, I am glad that these videos are in a more accessible format. James Farmer’s lectures are important and useful primary sources of the Civil Rights Movement.

Here is the link:

http://jamesfarmerlectures.umwblogs.org/

Our Final Product

And the final site is up! James Farmer Digital Archive

The James Farmer group meet together in the lab today to make a few changes to the website for the final draft due tomorrow. Things we changed:

- The layout of the homepage: It’s now just the tags and the quote section on on the bottom of the page.

- Fixed the links to the slide shows (FIXED the short photo on the slide!)

- Changed the search bar to show up on all the pages, with the quotes pluggin underneath.

- Cited all of the photos (gave credit to UMW Digital Archives and Caitlin’s Flickr)

- Kelsey’s updated Map with descriptions

- Sent out our official email invitations for our presentation at the symposium this Friday to anyone who has helped us out along the way

We are going to have one last look through tomorrow morning before class and it’s final!

Stumbling Across the Finish Line in a Daze

All uploaded, all edited, all decorated — all done!

Well, at least the website is done for Dr. McClurken’s perusal. Group members went through a marathon of editing and site tweaking over the past several days. If the walls of the Digital Media Lab could only talk… oh, the stories it would tell! There was a lot of grinding away at proofreading, editing, adding needed details and pictures, and structuring for five hours without break, two days in a row. There was some discussion about rubber duckies, some “sprawling” was done, giggle fits were quelled, and general madness reigned.  People went a little loopy from staring at computer screens, but loopiness in the service of history seems noble enough to excuse the madness. It was incredibly productive overall, so the effort was worthwhile.

For the final editing stages, I made an appointment with the Writing Center on Friday and went over the site with a professional. It turned out to be the summer director of the Writing Center, so she had been with the school long enough to know a handful of the people the buildings were named for and it was a delight to hear her own stories. If we continue this project later, or if another group picks it up, than I would like to see about getting personal accounts of these people and buildings from experienced faculty. The lady mostly helped polish the grammar and readability aspects, but she reacted favorably to the site navigation and especially liked the quality of the pictures the group took.

The group began posting our fliers, but the rain dissuaded me from doing so. I plan on putting mine up in my residence hall and waiting until the weather is more clear so they have a better chance of surviving until the symposium.

And even more project updates, I finally heard back from the Office of Admissions. Apparently, my previous email got lost in some interdepartmental delegation confusion, but the lady who replied was very helpful. She was on the road at the time and mentioned she might use our site while she’s visiting other schools and while Admissions’ virtual tour is still in the works.

Enter the end-of-the-semester daze now.

**Edit**

Oh, and I mastered the art of finding HTML codes, copying them, and tweaking the final product to make pictures work on the site’s widgets. Victory!

April 22, 2012 Update

This weekend I proofread the website. Not only did I actually edit text, but also, made sure all the tabs, links, videos, and audio work. We are working to add a few more things, such as, related links and the videos from the other James Farmer site. For our presentation, we just need to tweek a few things. But, now we have Caitlin which will be nice.

Sickness and a Shorter Trailer

Hello all!

This week has been kind of hectic for me. I missed the presentation at the creative symposium because I was extremely sick, and I spent much of the week trying to catch up with everything I had been unable to do while I was sick. One of the main things I did was create a shortened trailer for the history symposium next week. Since we are limited to only 6-8 minutes for our presentation, that meant our current trailer was too long to show. So I cut the trailer down to about 1:30 so we can show a little of what James Farmer sounded like. If we don’t end up using this, it isn’t the end of the world, but I wanted us to have the option of showing it if we wanted to. The trailer is below:

I have also been going through the website and making small changes to layout or spelling and grammar. I’ve made more changes to layout than to spelling or grammar (hopefully a reflection of our excellent writing skills!), but overall I think its made the site look a little better. I added and updated the map tab, and messed around with the photo dimensions on our group photo, as well as having our names link to our digital portfolios. I’ve been having issues with the site crashing a lot when I try to edit it, which has been very annoying. I think it might have something to do with multiple people trying to edit it at once…? Thankfully, all of my corrections have always gone through (if very slowly) so that is all that matters.

We are so close to being done! I cannot believe how quickly this semester has gone.

Update, Symposium, and Stooof

I am really happy with our website.  The mother site is awesome and we corrected some minor issues with our Sevamarkers website.  We are still waiting on assistance to fix the actual timeline html page to link back to the mother site and the SEVAmarkers site.  We are also going to either remove or completely change the header on the timeline so it doesn’t just highlight fredmarkers.  The twitter is picking up a lot of followers and interest, and Lindsey says that the GOOGLE Analytics is producing a ton of results as far as highlighting who is visiting our site.  The bibliography for the entire site will be completely finished and ready for McClurken to tell us what to fix tonight after Ryan inserts his portion of the bibliography.  Ryan figured out our slideshow on the front page and it looks fabulous! I fixed some minor errors with the map so I am not caught off guard next time.  I thought our presentation went really well.  I am really happy with how pleasing our website is to the eye.  Somebody on twitter the other said “THIS WEBSITE IS SOO COOL” and shared our link.  I am so happy!!! I think our presentation will be fabulous at the Symposium and that our website will be very useful for people in the future.  I hope people expand on it.  Its kind of shocking the sense of pride you feel in an academic project.  Weeelll I am off to bed so tomorrow I am able to edit my thesis and write another 10 page paper due Tuesday! I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend. . . and I apologize for the delayed update but the thesis work has been crazy!!!