Throughout the creation of my digital project I learned quite a lot. Although I have used TimelineJS in past projects, applying a different topic changes many things. This semester I learned that my project needed to flow like a story. When writing papers, we are constantly instructed to maintain a clear beginning, middle and end so it tells like a story. Taking that same concept to a digital timeline ironically was harder than I thought. In past projects, I had not considered the value of creating a storyline before. I had just input my content on each slide and added an image to match. This project was different because this class taught me the importance of writing to speak directly to my audience since digital history ideally allows the audience to interact with the information presented through links and images, providing an overall visual connection. I realized the value in this interaction right off the bat with our blog posts. We spoke more casually and openly to our audience, giving feedback and compliments that, in my opinion, more directly facilitated growth and academic stimulation than feedback on an essay can. Not that that feedback is not valuable, but creating a digital platform doubles your exposure and feedback through direct interaction with a wider audience.
Through this process I realized, with Professor Owen’s direction, that dumping a bunch of content on my digital timeline would not be as effective as I initially thought. From there I added a wordpress site to hold all my content and accompany my timeline. Now my timeline does not stand-alone but instead highlights the major themes and points I make throughout the wordpress site so as to create a visual, interactive and simplified version of my research. The images and ability to click through a timeline give a unique learning experience that effectively demonstrates change over time for my audience that can not be achieved solely through a paper or website. Together they tell the full story of shifting dating and relationship practices and gender roles.
Another thing that this class and my project taught and reminded me is how important it is to understand the back end of digital media and how that works because it directly effects the creation of your project or content presentation. When we read about the importance of understanding the materiality of digital content in Kirshenbam’s piece, it hit me that I definitely do not always look at digital content with a proper understanding of how to create/support it. I learned after reading this and our class discussion that in order to effectively create digital content one must truly understand the ins and outs of the program or content set up that goes into it so they know their boundaries as well as all opportunity to utilize the digital material’s strengths. This definitely came into play for me in creating my digital timeline. With TimelineJS, I had to input my content into a Google spreadsheet that is more convoluted than one would think. You actually do need to know some basic coding in order to organize and style the visual layout of the content effectively. Same goes for adding background colors or images, the url is required or and html color code. You cannot just drag and drop an image or color where you want it. These are a few simpler examples than what Kirshenbam refers to, but nonetheless they are applicable and important for the timeline design.
This has been a great semester and I have really enjoyed learning about digital history and everything that comes with it. I hope to carry this with me as I continue with my program and potentially to whatever career I find myself in. I think digital history has the potential to thrive in almost any job setting.
Here is my project poster!
Here is a link to my Final Project! and below is the downloadable version of my poster!
Thank you everyone for a great semester!