Thesis: Home stretch

The timeline is now coded in HTML/CSS. ActionScript was just a bit too far out of my grasp, so I made an executive decision, and I’m glad that I made it. I spent all day yesterday working on nothing but populating the content for the timeline and tracking each of the photographic assets being used for the bibliography pages. Oy… the bibliography pages.

Well, the good news is that I’m a third of the way done with the timeline in terms of years… I did 1858 through 1908, and a couple of years beyond that. The other good news is that between 1908 and 1958 is really the remaining 80% of the content… there’s only three nodes on the timeline left in the period from 1958 to 2008. So while I say I’m only a third of the way done, it’s more like halfway.

Of course, getting it halfway done yesterday took longer than I thought… 14 hours of straight thesis work. It was actually lovely, because even though it’s logging lots of hours, I’m gaining a sense of completion as I go forward with it. Each year on the timeline integrates historical research and asset research, as well as good scholarship by taking meticulous care to attribute each source properly and in multiple locations on the page. This way, when it comes time to generate the bibliography for the images, all of my sources are already in MLA style and ready to be married on the page with thumbnail images.

Bibliographic Concerns

There’s always concerns about keeping details straight for proper attributions in the bibliography. My project complicates the matters even more because I am relying on historical photographs and resources, as well as modern photographic assets. I am pulling from many sources in the Creative Commons. This is an excellent exercise for me, because it has shown me just what a rich collection of source media exists in the commons space already. especially for academic/non-commercial purposes.

Yet, when you do something like that, especially if you’re taking several different photographs or digital works and combining them into something new, you have to track each component artwork’s level of Creative Commons license. Although not all of them require Attribution, I give Attribution to all of the component artworks because it’s easier than trying to recall which one belongs where. Although not all of them require Non-Commercial, my enterprise is Non-Commercial, so it gets listed. And although not all of them require Share-Alike, all materials will be posted for Share Alike use. However, there are a couple of (thorny) assets which ALSO carry ‘no derivatives’, and I have to be careful not to alter those images or incorporate them into anything else at all.

On -top- of that, I’m pulling resources from several public sources, like the Smithsonian, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the National Parks Service, and the National Archaeological Association. And then there are a select few items which represent about 5-10% maximum of the site, which are simply sited from other sources under Fair Use (de minimis, educational, and non-commercial clauses).

Slows things down

So while I certainly could have designed and written the entire Timeline yesterday, I would have been fairly lost when it came time to do the bibliography because of the vast range of sources. Thus, responsible scholarship is slowing down the content generation process significantly now, but with the added value that once a segment of the thesis is done… it’s done. The bibliography and notes is on Google Docs and saved to my hard drive for double backup. And Zotero saves time and research… without Zotero I would still be struggling.

But hey… I’m getting there. Slowly and surely.

Schedule Update

Tonight I will be staying after work and hopefully finishing the timeline. Being realistic, I think I’ll put a good dent in the remainder tonight, and have to do the last bits of the content writing for the timeline on Tuesday.

Wednesday is a half day from work, and I will use that afternoon to save out all of the individual HTML pages for the timeline to fully work, marrying code and content. Also on Wednesday evening I will take the timeline design panel and repurpose it for use with the Who’s Who portrait gallery. Much of that research is lifted out of the timeline, so it’s just giving users a choice of how they wish to interact with the site.

Thursday is Thanksgiving and I’ll be heading down to Washington DC with friends, leaving at the obscene hour of 3am for arrival at breakfast time. I will be napping in the car, but I will also use that time to code the Who’s Who page. Since it picks up the structure from the Timeline page (albeit with far fewer rollover images) it should be simple enough to handle via laptop from the backseat of the car.

Friday will be a day off for travel and recovery.

Then Saturday will be completely dedicated to populating the content of the Who’s Who page (biographies and portraits), followed by beginning to write the 24 mini-articles for the “Red”, “White”, and “Blue” sections of the website on through Sunday. This brings us to go-week, the Final Countdown, leaving only the Home Page to be written and designed, and the Bibliography page.

Monday will be all about the Homepage. Tuesday and Wednesday will be all about the Bibliography page. Thursday sees final QA testing (making sure it all works on IE 7.0… already works on Firefox because we start coding with the standards compliant browser first and work outwards) and final proofreading check. Friday is when I write the paper describing the entire Capstone project experience, and Saturday it will be both uploaded as well as handed in on CD.

And then Sunday… will that Sunday even exist?

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