Huzzah! In what may be my greatest technological triumph to date, I figured out (by myself) how to edit my section of the website to include the subcategories that I wanted. Perhaps this can serve as my “Productive Failure” entry as well…
I knew that I wanted my page, “Those Who Stayed,” to have various subcategories. I broke them down as the following: Supporting the War, Education in a Time of War, Gender during the War, and Building during the War. The Building subpage was to have two different components under it: a description of the Studies Building on the Lake Eden campus with a discussion of the difficulties that arose during construction and one of the two interactive components that will be featured on our website. I knew I wanted these things, but I had no idea how to get them on the website. I didn’t really want to ask Joe, either, because I need to learn this on my own if I want to really retain the knowledge. It’s just how I roll. Also, I will have to build other WordPress sites in the future and really just need to learn how to work out my own problems. Anyway, I messed around on the website for quite a while with absolutely no progress before I found the “categories” option under the “Blogs” tab. Believing that I had found the correct method to produce my desired subcategories, I proceeded to create categories for all of these topics. I even included a nice little description on each page so anyone who looked at the website would understand my intentions for each subcategory. So I created these. All of them. I even put my “Those Who Stayed” page as the parent thinking that this would ensure my new categories displayed under the correct option on the main menu. Perhaps this should have been an obvious error to others, but not to me. Imagine my surprise and fury when they didn’t. I was absolutely ready to call it quits, but I remembered that this will not be my last WordPress site. I decided to give it another go.
Upon further inspection of the dashboard, I found “menus” under “Appearance.” When I went to “menus,” I realized that this is where all the pages were organized on the toolbar. Somehow, I needed to get my subcategories on here. After a few minutes I realized that I needed to create the pages first, so I went to “Pages” on the dashboard and proceeded to create my subcategories. Then, I went back to “menus,” added my new pages to the menu, and arranged them how I wanted them to appear. Now it is absolutely perfect! In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t ask anyone for help. This was an incredible learning opportunity for me and I obviously proved to myself that I am perfectly capable of working through my own technological problems and challenges. Well, the minor ones, at least.
My favorite tool that we learned about was TimeMapper and so that is the one I chose to play around with. I did alright with it for the most part. I forgot how to do a few things (like embed images) and there are somethings I didn’t attempt at all (like embedding videos or audio). Eventually I worked my way through the embedding, though. After I had put all of my information onto the spread sheet, I had a few issues publishing the website. Again, just looking back through the directions fixed my problem. The one major hang up that I had (and have still not resolved) is how to adjust the size of my images so that the entire image can be seen. It was obvious upon first glance at the completed timeline that only half of the image was visible. I tried going back through the imbedding code to adjust the size, but it helped very little. I’ll probably ask Joe about it on Wednesday, but I was completely frustrated by the time I had finished working on it. Overall, it was a pretty good experience. Besides the embedding hiccup, everything went just fine and was actually kind of fun! I could see using something like this in our website. I particularly like how it is a split screen- one half is the slide and timeline, the other half the map. Still, I’m a good deal more comfortable with delicate, old onion skin paper than I am with this new technology!
I am not sure how I felt about all the tools that we learned about during our trip to the library. I could not see some of them fitting into our vision of the website while other tools, such as TimeMapper, I saw as being potentially very useful. In some cases (as with TimeMapper) I saw the plugin being exactly what I was looking for in an interactive, which forced me to rethink the interactives that the computer gaming folks would be creating for us. If I could create the interactive map that I wanted all on my own, then what would they do? Other plugins, such as the Juxtapose slider, I didn’t really see as working for our project (despite how neat it was). Who knows, maybe a juxtaposed picture of the BMC campus before and after the studies building was built would be an interesting addition to our website. I also wasn’t overly fond of StoryMap. It seemed a little messy and confusing to me. Regardless of whether or not I want to use all of these digital tools, I was impressed by how much can be done at home by someone who isn’t even necessarily knowledgeable about technology.
My group and I went down to the Western Regional Archives on Thursday for a little meet-and-greet with our collection. This not only allowed us to get a better idea of exactly what was in the collection, it also allowed us to split up the workload accordingly. I think for the most part we have settled on a few different categories on our tool bar: home, the college campus during the war, refugees who came to BMC during the war, teachers and students who were drafted/enlisted/went to work for the government, and the G.I. Bill. As far as I am aware, I will be covering the “home front” while Joe works on the individuals who fought and Keira works with refugees. I’m not sure yet how we will deal with the G.I. Bill… it could be that one person covers the “home” page while the other two deal with the G.I. Bill. At any rate, splitting up the workload will allow us to visit the archives separately and on our own time. It was hard enough arranging one visit together because of our different schedules. The option to work independently of the other two was a necessity.
Joe and I also talked to our computer gaming partners today and got a better idea of what we can do as far as interactive go. The gaming folks were interested in an interactive map of sorts, like Google Maps—a map where you can zoom down to street level. I wasn’t sure how this would work with our actual topics until visiting the archives this afternoon. As it turns out, the studies building that was built by the faculty and students was built shortly before the U.S. entered the war but while the war had already begun in Europe. Because of this, construction supplies were harder to come by. Heather said that there are interviews referring to this. The building also had to remain only partially complete until after the war as all extra materials were going towards war efforts and much of the campus (both male and female students and faculty) had left. Apparently the wormy chestnut wood for the walls of the halls in the building could not be completed until after the war. As a result, everyone had a chronic rash because they were constantly exposed to the insulation. Our talk today with the computer groups and my visit to the archives really helped a lot come together! The computer groups also let us know what sort of materials they needed from the archive to build their 3-D model of the buildings of our choosing. They also expressed interest in visiting the archives (which I wholeheartedly encouraged as they can tell Heather exactly what sorts of blueprints and picture they would be needing). We still need to narrow our focus a good deal, but I can finally see things coming together a bit.