GDE740: Week 6 – Strategy + Workflow

Brief 2 is the lengthiest project that I’ve undertaken thus far, and it’s such a relief to have this time to reflect properly and adequately strategize. If you’ve read week 5’s blog post, you’d know that I was a week and a half behind on the project’s research because I suddenly switched briefs. It wasn’t a total disaster, however. There were a lot of references I could quickly pull from my head for this to steer me in a direction that I could be interested in. But having said that, strategizing was crucial to make sure I didn’t blindly follow the path of mental assumptions and references before diving into what the project could be about.

Strategy

Since I am writing this blog post in retrospect (a week ago, I was not as wise as I am now), I’ll have to admit that my first plan of action was not to delve into The Science Museum’s archive or their online offering, but rather, I kept it more general and consumed as much as I could about digital archives, how they’re built, and their significance in our lives.

A lecture by John Sheridan, digital director of the British National Archives, gave me insight into some of the crucial thinking behind digital archives, their systems, and how they might be organized. Preservation of the archive through semantic web technologies, in particular, can ensure that the archive’s evidential value can be understood in the context of its creation. Thus recordings of objects in the archive are more easily accessible. (Sheridan, 2017) The context, in this case, can tap into collective cultural memory, providing an essential tool for the preservation of that culture.

John Sheridan, Semantic Web technologies for Digital Archives

In an article titled Future of Collective Memory, the notion that archives exist solely for heritage conservation is challenged, instead offering an alternative reading of archives, one which is based on a process of fruition. They argue that digital archives can reach a wider audience, thus allowing the multiplication of subjective experiences and their contextual enrichment of said collective memory. (Hub, 2020) So, what does it mean to challenge the status quo through a reading of the archive? And why is it so crucial?

In one example of this, they mention International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) as such a tool, stating that it should be the standard for the world of digital content repositories. IIIF is a community-based project utilizing API to define standard application programming interfaces that support interoperability between image repositories and ultimately create a more accessible system of transmitting visual cultural knowledge. (iiif.io, n.d.) One example of an online archival platform I found that uses this technology is Project Mirador. They are an open-source, web-based, multi-window image viewing platform with the ability to zoom, display, compare and annotate images from around the world. (Projectmirador.org, 2019) I’ll keep this in mind for any part of my project exploration that would benefit from image network referencing, utilizing already existing databases on the internet.

Projectmirador.org

The project is eight weeks long. Seven if you subtract the missing week from the work I could have done earlier. But eight weeks is a long time compared to our past projects, and it affords us the ability to pace our steps, reflect when needed, and flesh out our ideas when it’s time. So I planned to shed my past working habits and follow this more rigid timeline to discover new ways to design and investigate its meaning and outcome more thoroughly. Hopefully, it will shape my future practice and design thinking methods.

To sum up my general project strategy, I gave a brief outline of my points of interest:

During the process of digitizing their vast archives, the Science Museum Group has invited collaboration in an ongoing exploration of design solutions to address issues of engagement and discovery through their online archive portal.

The digital archive does not need to be discoverable to everyone in its entirety. In the age of the internet, digital discoverability is a subjective experience, heavily dependant on how we use digital tools and the particular interests and behaviors that pertain to that usage. Thus relevance is a significant factor in sparking discovery and maintaining engagement amongst a target audience.

For this project, I’m interested in exploring the role collective memory can play in the engagement and discovery of the archival of cultural information and how that could be utilized for the Science Museum digital archive.

Workflow

Writing the timeline for this project, I looked immediately to our school Canvas account to see each week’s title and then decipher each outcome accordingly. Then, to tailor it to my own needs, I added subsections to envision what type of activities would work best in succession.

Week 1 + 2

    Distill briefs

    Preliminary research + brief selection

    Explore thematic direction (ethnographic, cultural)

Week 3

    Explore trends + case studies

    Define positioning and statement

    Explore ideation process (e.g., mind map, mood boarding)

Week 4

    Define project objectives

    Concept ideation + technical exploration w/ collaborative partners

Week 5

    Define final concept

    Preliminary design development

Week 6

    Feedback sessions

    Develop design prototypes

Week 7

    Test and refine prototypes

    Explore project delivery methods

Week 8

    Package outcome for delivery

    Reflect on the outcome

Finally, I want to discuss the topic of organization and work tools. In 2021, I’m using digital tools as a means for organization more often than not. Unfortunately, using sketchbooks is not my ideal way of working. Now and then, I use them to jot down notes or draw diagrams and illustrate thoughts quickly, but rarely are they future points of reference. So instead, the notes app is my go-to organizational tool. It’s where I write down everything I need, from shopping lists to ideas, to to-do’s and how-to’s, and everything in between. I sound a little bit like a car salesman at the moment, but it has smart features that allow me to utilize it fully and positively augment my work and life. 

Trello has also been one of those critical tools in my life since about 2018 when I started working on a UI/UX project. It was introduced to me by a web developer and has been a savior in various client projects over the years. So, seeing as I was comfortable with it, I’m using it to organize all of my work during this eight (no, seven) week project.

My personal Trello board

(this is a snapshot taken by Week 9, bordering on 10, Yara, so don’t be fooled by the abundance of content here)

To end this week’s reflections, I’m at a point in my professional career where balance is crucial, and pacing is vital. So I hope to take away the process of this project and integrate it into my life as a habit to transform the way I work positively.

Reference list

Hub, H. (2020). The future of collective memory. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/@HiddenHub/the-future-of-collective-memory-9a0445190341 [Accessed 6 Nov. 2021].

iiif.io. (n.d.). About IIIF — IIIF | International Image Interoperability Framework. [online] Available at: https://iiif.io/about/ [Accessed 6 Nov. 2021].

Projectmirador.org. (2019). Mirador — Home. [online] Available at: https://projectmirador.org/.

Sheridan, J. (2017). Semantic Web technologies for Digital Archives. [online] videolectures.net. Available at: http://videolectures.net/eswc2017_sheridan_digital_archives/ [Accessed 6 Nov. 2021].

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