I am writing this blog post from a familiar spot – that frustrating feeling you get in most research worth doing where you reach the end of your competency and aren’t sure what to do next. I am stuck.

I am the kind of person who is more likely to blog about the process rather than the content of my project anyway, but it just do happens that this month my content hasn’t taken on any new shapes anyway. I have found that in these digital projects, there is an ebb and flow instead of a constant pace.

Since last month’s update, I’ve been fretting about whether I chose the right approach to my project. Did I choose the right way to build it? Am I doing things in a good order? I was lucky enough to have a phone conversation about these questions with Dr. Karen Shelby, one of the founders of Art History Teaching Resources.

Art History Teaching Resources Screenshot

Screenshot from Art History Teaching Resources website

We discussed how their project evolved, and where they started from. She and her collaborators have built an online hub for syllabi, regular news, and a platform for collaboration among teachers using WordPress over the past several years. But they started with just syllabi, carefully editing teaching plans and displaying them in a clean way. (Importantly, contributors are given both editorial and financial support when they work with AHTR. Given our discussions of digital and teaching labor issues in the digital archaeology commons, this was great news.)

My conversation with Karen showed me a bit of a path forward from being stuck: I need to get something high quality online and slowly build in additional features. It can and should be small. I do not need to try to make every technological function work right now, even if it makes the online presence of this project more in line with the theoretical goals of the researchers.

So my next step will be to load basic content into my domain using the basic site navigation agreed upon by myself and my supervisor. I’ll use this content for testing my theme code, and to explain to my supervisor (and you all!) my progress. I can do that easily and make noticeable progress.

Because the php code is the thing making me feel overwhelmed, the next step is learning PHP. I could use code from the Pinterest clones I downloaded to build my own basic theme, or I could wade into the territory of paring down a quite fussy Pinterest clone, which is likely to result in a lot of broken functions. Either way I’d better learn php so I can achieve this goal.

I think my best bet for busting through this rut will be to set aside two days for working only on this project, like a boot camp. My goal this month is to have a 1-2 day boot camp where the result is my being able to understand the code of one of the pinterest clones I downloaded.

See you next month, with my first working model of the website!