DH Praxis IndiviJournal #2

Tuesday was tough. Firstly, I must thank you, Profs, for your support of my project. Though I had not expected people to swarm my project, I was hoping people could see in it potential for their own ideas and creativity. I am still determined to do a version of the project, but with my other school work and work work, I have limited capacity. Scale down time.

As I was making the video of my grandmother, and eking out a pitch, I solidified a couple of ideas about my project and about myself.

1. The scholarly project involves a fair degree of complexity — how do you map memory? Do you employ a Roman method of loci and assign anecdotes to places on a map? Or do you attempt to model the depths and range of the present remembered experiences? How do we contemporize the past?
This prospect has been most exciting to me, but also most daunting given my relatively minimal computer skills. It provides a lot of room for creative mapping — the way memory slips between times does not easily graft onto a roadmap– and seems to require a highly flexible project vision, one that is focused but also able to accommodate fickle data.
2. The human interest portion of the project — providing a digital space for nondigital memory, giving older generations a voice in their digital legacy (so not forcing them to adapt to facebook and twitter and instagram which move at a decidedly different pace from even the most agile nonagenarian) — also feels very important to me. The general response to the project seems to be “oh- I want to record my grandparent!” My initial interest was not preserving some thick truth or archiving some family history, but was meant to reflect the present experience of older people (particularly as it relates to digital production). The “distortions” my father and his sisters accuse my grandmother of don’t matter to me. I feel lucky to have an ongoing relationship with her (despite our political differences). I do think having a platform for people to create a more three dimensional album of their elders’ lives — a platform that requires minimal effort — would be really useful to a lot of people.
That my project didn’t get picked in some ways points to a trend I’ve noticed about these sorts of oral histories– the “Someone should really do that! (But I don’t really want to)” mentality. It’s difficult to confront our feelings about aging. I know just thinking about my grandmother the right way, I start crying (even though she’s fine). So it’s a tricky sell.
Which brings us to things I’ve learned about me:
1. I am not as organized as I would like to be.
2. For all my efforts, I am not particularly good at self-promotion.
Moving on.
Tandem is a bit of a gamble for me. I love picture books and the way print objects look and am wondering, particularly in light of Matt Gold’s Text Transformations class, what steps we need to take to assess how pages look when the shape of a single page can have so many different dimensions (to fit its various outputs — computer, mobile, tablet, etc). Having a way to understand pages of books with mixed modes could provide helpful humanistic groundwork as we move into a more plastic understanding of what constitutes a page.
I’m in touch with NYPL labs folks and others to get on top of environmental scan and have already started reaching out to people who might know more code. My chief concern is knowing enough to know who and how to contact the right people. I’m trying to learn some python so I have a firmer grasp of what we are building and how we will need to define it to get people interested and invested. I wasn’t sold on the name, but it’s growing on me. If only because Tandem looks like “T” and “eM” (Text AND iMage).
The team is working well together already. Chris has incredible energy and excitement. He also has knowledge of various gadgets which are already super useful (Trello!). Stephen has experience on development that will be invaluable. Kelly has useful art and design background, plus we get a tech librarian on staff.
This post is already too long, so I must sign off.

Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel