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.