When my group first wrote our contract at the beginning of the semester, I viewed it as something to be strictly followed, but now that we have completed everything on the document, I see it as a general guide that kept us on track. To me, our contract seems to be a plan that was written with the best-case scenario for the creation of the website in mind, when we were unaware of the multitude of problems to come. Of the two major areas on our contract, division of labor and milestones, we seemed to stick to our project as contracted with greater fidelity in regards to the former.
We divided work to be done by each individual member as well as the group as a whole. As far as individual assignments, we stuck to this part exactly. We were all individually responsible for things such as scanning the letters, creating PDF versions of the letter transcriptions, uploading the letters to the website, writing biographies of Slaughter and Murray, creating audio recordings of some of the letters, and citing sources. On the other hand, every group member was supposed to research Slaughter and Murray, work on the introductory video, and create the StoryMapJS for George Murray’s page. However, some of these tasks, although they were originally intended to be whole groups assignments, ended up being completed by two people each instead of all four. For example, Kim and Breck, who were responsible for writing the biographies of Murray and Slaughter respectively, did all the research on these two men. Also, Breck and I put the StoryMap together. Even though the entire group was supposed to help with these two things, it seemed to be better that this was not the case. With the research, there were so few sources of information that we all would have ended up with the same thing, so Kim and Breck easily managed it. With the StoryMap, each location leads into the next, so it was easier to have one person (me) look at all the letters and figure out Murray’s movements from one place to another so it flowed well, and another (Breck) go through and contextualize the battles Murray fought in.
The part of our contract that we did not follow very closely was the milestones section. We had ten milestones total and were able to meet five of them on time, completed three of them a few days behind schedule, and were two to three weeks late with the remaining two. Looking back, many of the dates we set for ourselves seem unrealistic because we were unfamiliar with our website’s platform, Omeka, and various other software we used, such as Audacity and Final Cut Pro. We were able to make five deadlines on time, which included scanning the letters, creating PDFs of the transcriptions, taking photos of Slaughter’s grave and Murray’s uniform, reading the letters to check the transcriptions for typos, creating exhibits for the letters, and turning in the site to Dr. McClurken. However, due to our unfamiliarity with Omeka, some confusion with our “Item Order” plugin, and the upload time for each individual tiff file (10-15 minutes), it took us a few weeks past our deadline to get all the letters uploaded. We had originally thought the Murray letters needed to be uploaded first, but once we figured out they did not, we were already very behind by the time Slaughter’s were published. Because digitizing the letters and putting them on the site was the bare minimum, we wanted to get this done first, which set us back as far as completing other tasks, such as the StoryMap and introductory video. The StoryMap was also completed a few weeks late because it involved looking at all sixty-four letters, but the video, although it took more time than we thought, was up about six days after the original milestone. The audio recordings were also completed about six days after the original date because we had some communication problems about which letters to record. Lastly, the bibliography had grown so much after we completed the video that we were about four days late in finishing it. Overall, the problem with missing our milestones was that once we missed one due to technical problems, it became difficult to make up the lost time while also continuing with the other tasks, as we had other classes to complete work for, so it snowballed. But, we were able to successfully complete everything with plenty of time and I am very pleased with the way the site turned out!