Putting My Project Hat On

Let’s see. A few updates.

In case you didn’t hear me mention it elsewhere (or in person), I’m not teaching the digital storytelling class this fall. As it turns out, the need that the Dean’s office thought they had for classes meeting a particular gen ed requirement turned out to not exist. Meh. I was simultaneously disappointed and relieved when I heard the news. Truthfully, I had this inkling that it wasn’t going to happen, so I hadn’t spent a lot of time doing much preparation. I was away on vacation when I found out, and I was really glad that I hadn’t spent my time off working on a class that ultimately didn’t happen. I’m hoping maybe another opportunity will come up in the future. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I’ve been spending most of my time fiddling around in WordPress for a couple of projects. I’m planning on blogging some of the work I’ve been doing on each of these (it’s really typical Martha hackiness, so please look away for the next couple of posts if you’re interested in elegant, sophisticated code).

The first project is one I actually initiated early this summer: Faculty Academy Proceedings. My idea was to contact our presenters at last spring’s FA and invite them to submit short essays about their presentation topic. I heard back from about 10 of them, so over the course of the year, we’ll be publishing these pieces. Building the site for this gave me the change to start playing around with WordPress custom post types (thanks to Alan’s awesome and comprehensive series of tutorials.) In the end, doing custom posts for the articles is probably more trouble than it’s worth in this case, but it was a great opportunity to wrap my head around this feature — and I have no doubt that I’ll be using them again. Stay tuned — I’ll be sharing some of what I did and what I learned.

The second project  grew out of our needing to develop some kind of calendar of workshops/faculty development opportunities for the coming year. Honestly, we have limited success with this kind of programming, and I always wonder if, given the low attendance numbers, our time shouldn’t be focused on other work with faculty. This fall, I’ve floated the idea that instead of guessing what people want and putting a calendar together, we might try “crowdsourcing” the programming. So, I’ve put together a nifty (well, I think it is) interface that allows people to submit topics and then vote on them. It’s a glorious mish-mosh of WordPress, Google Spreadsheets/Forms, FeedWordpress syndication (using custom fields which is AWESOME), and template/css hackery. Again, I’ll be blogging the technical side of it and it will be messy and convoluted, but that’s just how I roll. I invite you to kick the tires on it until we announce it to folks at UMW.

The third project that I have brewing really does deserve a (book-length) post of it’s own. Basically, for the last five years I’ve been yammering about taking the text of Clarissa and presenting it in blog-form. If you don’t know, Clarissa is 18th century epistolary novel (which is a fancy way of saying the story is told through a series of letters). Years ago, inspired by Bryan Alexander’s Dracula project, I thought it would be cool to do a blog treatment of Clarissa. I finally got around to buying a domain name a few weeks ago at http://theclarissaproject.org (there’s nothing but a GoDaddy page there now). I’ve got grandiose dreams of setting up a WP multi site and having separate blogs for different characters, pingbacks from a blog listing critical resources, setting up Twitter accounts for each character and letting people “play along” by owning them for a bit. It’s all a mess in my head, but I’m kind of excited by it. Did I mention that Clarissa is one of the longest novels in the English language? It’s dense and can be a pretty difficult text. I’m open to any and all suggestions, and, again, I’ll be blogging more about it.

In the meantime, I’m waiting for Madigan to start kindergarten in a week and half, and really, really sad about the milestone. I’m also really excited! But I’m also ready sad.