Reflective Essay

The Hurley Convergence Center project has been a wonderful experience. In my reckoning it has kept well within the parameter of our mission statement, even if it has not always lived up to the due dates. I believe I have contributed quite a bit to making this project a reality and steering it into its dual role as a resource and archive.

The original idea for the website layout worked out better than imagined. We were ultimately disappointed of the ability to swipe or click left and right to move between pages, but the menu is just as useful, if not better for including all pages. The idea of Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary pages was exercised for nearly every topic. A landing page was created to explain the purpose of the category and its contents, in addition to the home page these served as primary pages. The secondary pages held most of the information, and each one had some form of visual aid. Tertiary pages were not used for every secondary page, only the ones it made sense to include them in. A common tertiary page would be for a video transcript, and it can be argued that the Archives page served a dual secondary/tertiary role.

For the archive, it was originally imagined that there would be video and audio interviews coupled with a timeline and a catalog of archived documents. Needless to say, there were some serious technical issues associated with this side of the project. To start with, the final website includes no audio-only interviews. It was originally imagined that some individuals would be too busy to make the walk to the production studio, and that we could accommodate them by coming to their offices with recording equipment. In the end the recording equipment was found to be deficient and nobody we interviewed was unwilling to join us in the studio. In the end we exceeded our goal of six or seven interviewees by obtaining a grand total of eight.

After meeting with John Morello and obtaining his personal archive of the HCC, it became abundantly clear that two or three people could not classify every document in that file in the time allotted for the semester, let alone with the other needs of the project. With the addition of Jerry Slezak’s files and the transfer from Hanbury Evans, that goal became much loftier. As a compromise I came up with the hazy idea of putting together certain documents to form a narrative ‘spotlight’ on some aspect of the HCC’s conception/construction (In the middle of a group presentation no less). I consider these my greatest contribution to the site, and by far my favorite.

The final technical issue is one we are at a loss to solve, and likely doesn’t need solving. On some older versions of Internet Explorer the timeline does not display correctly. After the disappointment faced in our presentation I accessed the timeline from several different locations using all three common browsers. I found that the last three versions of Firefox and Chrome were entirely compatible with the timeline, but only the last two of Internet Explorer, and only if the older one was fully up to date with common software. I cannot begin to explain why, but I do take comfort in the knowledge that Internet Explorer is the least used of all three browsers.

In closing I would like to touch on our milestones. As laid out, most of the first few weeks dealt with exploring technology and educating ourselves on the HCC and its equipment. Our interviews were completed on time, our pages were written on time (although not necessarily in their final form), the editing was very nearly complete and the website was finalized on time. The only not wholly done on time was the Timeline, which was held back by a lack of detailed information. It wasn’t until the files of Jerry Slezak laid out the original exploration committee’s several design phases that the entire picture became clear. It occurs to me that I have talked very little about my own role in the process. I was primarily responsible with the archive and, in fact, did the majority of work on it. Otherwise I was present at half the interviews, despite working full time; I developed a standardized look to the resource pages, and I wrote most of them; and I was primarily responsible for making the timeline.

Thank you for the opportunity,

Andrew Steele