In the above link, you can find my project: Same-Sex Attraction. This body of work was explicitly designed to show how a biological fact—that attraction between people of the same sex occurs naturally in human populations—has been interpreted, celebrated, but never absent in human cultures around the world. With material ranging from 5th century BCE to 1920, and geography from Australia to Africa, the broad scope of the project is something that can only be made possible in the digital format.
Rather than an exhaustive look at all the examples of same-sex love, sexuality and attraction in history, which would be impossible in the scope of this course, I instead focused on a variety of examples from disparate cultures showing how different people viewed the same human instinct across different cultures and times.
This project is very similar to the ethos of history pin—that is, proving that every place has a history, and attempting to bring those histories together in short, sporadic, often almost random ways.
My intention starting out on this project was to build something huge, something near exhaustive, and something digitally and visually complex. The hardest issue I faced was relying on a friend to do the coding for the project, which fell through when he found he didn’t have the time to help me. I was scrambling, trying to figure out how I could create something interesting and intellectually similar with a lot less resources.
What I settled on, in fact, was a little odd. It may not be instantly obvious to you, but that website I made is actually a video game. I used an open-source video game designer called Twine, and repurposed it into something that wasn’t a video game at all. It was, instead, a website with some odd functionality built into it, like undo and redo buttons instead of separate pages.
The most important takeaway I have from this attempt of mine to build a digital project is that sometimes, using the resources you have is better than trying to fit your work into a technology that is more expensive, and sometimes, it’s okay to let your project go when there’s still a great deal more things that could be on it.
Even now, as I’m sitting here, things like the trial of Oscar Wilde or more famous examples of Japanese nanshoku art, or the Cut Sleeve story in Pu Songling’s 17th century work Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, haunt me—there’s far more history than I added in!
That, however, appears to me to be the end result of digital projects in general: there’s always something more that can be done. The most important thing isn’t that the project is truly and fully complete—especially a project like this—or that it looks anything like the original vision you had for the project. Certainly, the clickable historic map I was intending is nothing at all like what I’ve created instead.
The most important thing is that your project fulfills the aims it set out to do in a way that’s potentially meaningful to the audience you intend, in my case, queer youth of color.
I believe my project, in its relevance to youth and its ease of finding and navigating, does this adequately.