As we approach the second week of the Institute and the official launch of our projects, my main emotion is amazement that I actually managed to put together something close to what I intended. I started off pretty much as a complete novice about digital methods. The one place where I may have had a leg up is that I came in with a pretty well-formatted database, as it was what I used for my dissertation research. I figured out how to make a website with Bootstrap, how to make it actually live on the web, and then, most importantly of all, I learned to ask for help and utilize the resources that others have developed.
The turning point for my project was when I officially partnered with Open Context to host the data for my project. They already had a system in place to do pretty much exactly what I wanted, and after that partnership was worked out, things really took off. I realized that even though I thought my data set was really solid, there were still a few places to improve things. What occupied most of my time was developing appropriate documentation for each of my variables (a 26-page document in its own right!), and finalizing images for each sherd in the data set (something I finally finished on Friday).
Not only did I lean heavily on Open Context (and Eric Kansa in particular) for getting the data up and running, I also used a handy script that Eric developed to add a search bar to my site that pulls entries from the Open Context database and displays them right on my site. It’s so slick!
If I had to launch tomorrow, I’d feel okay about it. Since I get a few extra days, though, I have a couple things on my to-do list. First and foremost is getting the Spanish version of the database up to make it bilingual and really accessible. And for major tech points, maybe I can collaborate with some folks to add pagination functionality to the return search results, so that people can browse through them. There’s always more that can be done, and I’m guessing one of the last lessons I’ll need to learn for this project is when to stop and say it’s good enough.