A semester in reflection

As the semester is closing, I’ve been reflecting on just how bad I did. Almost across the board I dropped the ball, and in this class, I procrastinated and had little motivation to start, much less complete my project. I knew what I wanted to do, although my project did have some slight changes during the semester, (becoming a little more contemporary then perhaps you would like) and I had all the necessary sources to do it because of my research for another class. But carring it out was a real issue for a number of reasons. But, having now completed the project, I am able to look at my site and really feel good about it, something I didn’t really get from some of my other classes this semester. I know there are some problems with it. For starter, the anime “Archive” could really be beefed up, and I’m still conflicted on whether or not I should have used Omeka rather than WordPress. The only caveat to that is I’m not sure if I really wanted to emphasize my archive/collection that much, although an integral part of my website, it was by no means the focus. That being said, I did like how WordPress was a lot less rigid then Omeka, and I found a way to give the posts I wanted to include in the archive a uniformity that gave the impression of an archival format. That being said, I do not necessarily love the flowing text style presentation that wordpress uses, especially when showcasing an archive. Something I could do to combat this, besides learning code of course, could possibly be using tags. Another problem I have is that the “Anime” and “Author” archive are totally separated.  I think making each author’s name in the “relevant authors” sections a link to their own post would go a long way to communicate the interconnectedness of the scholarly and popular culture material. I also worry about how my “archives” are hidden. Even with the link to the anime archive on my front page,  someone visiting the site could completely miss it and that would be a real shame since its pretty nice looking. I think the last criticism of my petite archive is that there is very little organization. I wish I would have figured out how to organize the entries in some may, like the release date for anime and alphabetical for author especially since that would do a lot to improve the presentation of my site. I also think I could have added some more Histories to further contextualize anime, or japan, for anyone who visited the site. I think the last criticisms I’ll make about my project is the amount of text I have and how maybe it could have been better to paraphrase. I really wanted to present scholarly opinion on the subjects so I kept a lot of the text intact, and I believe it somehow makes things look more authentic. But in some instances, I think this might just overwhelm casual visitors and people who don’t have time to read through bunches text, especially since I include a variety of authors opinions.

That being said, I’m fairly proud of my work. Yes there are problems, and yes there could have been more material included, but I think I was successful in presenting not only anime and some history, but that there is a large body of work surrounding anime and that it is a worthwhile area of study. I also surprised myself and resolved the problems I came across, like the archive, and presented a variety of media. Along with this, I really liked having a platform where I could store, present, and compare a variety of views and seeing mine next to the scholarly sources was pretty cool. I thought I understood how digital humanities are a good thing, but until I made a project, I really had no idea how useful it was. Now I just keep thinking of all the other projects I would like to do and how I would like to expand my own project. One of the tools I was really interested in but couldn’t really use for my project, was the mapping of social relationships. I keep specifically thinking about the American artist Allan Kaprow and how he went to Latin America and influenced/collaborated with artists down there. I think it’f be so cool to see that process digitally, and then you could even show art from both Kaprow and the Latin American artists he came in contact with to discuss change and continuity! Now I don’t just see sources as stuff for research papers but as things I could present to people who have an interest in the subject and a chance to give them opportunities to really dive into the material or “see” cultural products in a novel way.

At the beginning of this course I was so excited to learn about how digital humanities was going to wrest control of knowledge and liberate it from the institutions who keep it locked up and profit off it. And now, having completed the course, I feel like in my own tiny way I contributed to this process. I was also introduced to so many tools I can’t even name all of them. In fact, just the databases introduced to me in this class were awesome, let alone the creative digitizations we saw. Of course I was most interested in the issues surrounding video games and History. I remember talking about how video games can’t be super accurate because then they’re not fun and that really got me thinking about the ways history is manipulated and consumed. I’m still not sure if it’s a good thing, although exposure can lead people to research subjects on their own. I really appreciate all the tools I learned in this course, and I think it has surprisingly played to my Marxist sentiments more than any other class, in a contemporary way, that has real relevance and efficacy to my life and anyone who would want to read the history I write.

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