Companion website & recorded presentation

This summer, we had a soft launch for the companion website or digital archive for the book Sex for Sale: Six Progressive-Era Brothel Dramas by Katie N. Johnson.  We believe creating companion sites like this one for print publications can truly benefit readers as they get richer/updated/dynamic content, and authors also benefit as they have more options for extending the reach of their research.  I was in charge for some of the technical side of the project e.g. putting in place an organization structure for the site’s content, modifying the WordPress software to produce a clean and user-friendly interface, installing custom plugins and themes, etc.

Also, in early July I attended the 2015 ARIS Summit in Madison, WI and this time I decided (or had) to record my talk, the good news is that Ann Elizabeth helped with the content … the bad news is that I was –again- reminded that video editing can also be super time-consuming.  Anyway, I think I had a good time at the Summit and now I just cannot wait for some of the upcoming features in ARIS e.g. group and world behavior (sounds like the glue/magic for collaborative playing), ARISjs (maybe the workaround for embedding minigames), and ARIS for Android :-) … so just in case someone is interested in our captioned video talk, check this out:

Finally, both of these faculty-driven projects are unique for CDS and they exemplify the potential and benefits of digital publishing, digital humanities, and collaborative work among scholars, students and librarians.

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Summer plans!

Now that the spring semester is officially over, it’s probably a good time to start planning what the next 2-3 months will look like.  Among my top priorities are: evaluating and testing the author profile module for DSpace, customizing the cover page for articles in Scholarly Commons, finalizing/launching the companion website for Dr. Katie Johnson’s latest book Sex for Sale: Six Progressive-Era Brothel Drama, and getting ready for my talk at the 2015 ARIS Summit.  Additionally, and because some of my spring projects had flexible deadlines, I still need to work and check the ‘complete’ box for some other projects as well e.g. FS Documentary, Captioning PILOT project, DLP and spring e-text files, and some last changes for my IFLA book chapter.

The DSpace work is definitely something that my team has been looking into for awhile and we definitely hope to be able to implement a faculty profile module, add/customize some metadata fields on the cover page for articles, and create a couple of custom input forms … learning how to edit some .java files and rebuilding DSpace seems to be part of the fun! … of course, this summer will also be special because of my new dental accent, which is forcing me to actually record myself for some of my talks -my next big challenge will be for the ARIS talk in Madison, WI in July … y para terminar, I’ll also have to make/take some time off and work on my immigration paperwork, we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel :-)

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Writing & Deadlines

deadlineWithout necessarily thinking about it, in January and in the last few days I’ve spent a good chunk of my time writing and writing and trying to meet certain deadlines.   Of course, most of us don’t like deadlines, although I think we all need deadlines because they can certainly help and keep us on track.  Somebody at EdTech put it this way “Deadlines can be both a blessing and a curse, deadlines force productivity, a timeline and a game plan that might otherwise go undefined.”  Anyway, part of my writings included a mid-year report for our NEH/FS project, an IMLS/Sparks proposal, a book chapter, and a couple of lines of PHP code -maybe I should have done more of this type of writing!

As for my new deadlines, we’re looking at March 30 for our FS 2.0 app beta test; I think Ann Elizabeth and I have managed to understand most of the new functionalities in the ARIS beta editor, the way it handles conversations is definitely 100% better than the previous version.  Perhaps my only complain so far, why cannot we duplicate our games?  Another set deadline is on April 27, when Marcus and I will give a talk at the 2015 Computers in Libraries Conference in Washington DC –my section will be on the ‘captioning pilot’ project we’re currently working on.  Other spring semester activities will include some on-going faculty projects, meetings and work on the MiamIdeas initiative, a couple of lectures for IMS201 on eBooks including one for Kate’s class, and some DSpace/WordPress/Omeka coding!

Lastly … sometimes I also wish there was a deadline for the PERM review process :-(

Fall semester: first half is now over!

At the beginning of this semester, I told a couple of people that I might not survive the first half … and the main two reasons for that early thought were two projects that required some special/unknown tests/research/coding … trying to come up with a realistic deadline when the learning curve is kind of uncertain is a bit of a challenge.  However, here we’re already fully emerged into the second half and I’m pretty sure the next 5-6 weeks will go just fine!

FS game instructionsFirst of all, the Freedom Summer Game was probably my top priority in September and even though we saw all the new features in ARIS 2.0 … because of the amount of work we had in the “old” editor, it was clear that we were better off in sticking to the older version and in the end, it allowed us to develop a good understanding of how the “characters scripts” work … or how to add some HTML code for text formatting.  Anyway, this first version of the project seems to be almost done, we’ve collected some good feedback including a new/short “storyboard” version by David Gagnon, the ARIS inventor.  On my end, some of the lessons learned include: WiFi can be very tricky, therefore devices with no GPS should be excluded; eliminating extra text/buttons on the screen is a MUST; the lack of a “back” button seems to a shared/common concern among playtesters  … perhaps the good news is that some of these issues will be fixed in ARIS 2.0 … which is another reason we want to migrate to that new version -as soon as we can.  During the conference, we kind of made it official that we’ll be working on a version 2 and it should be released sometime in the spring semester … so stay tune!

In early September, we also learned that there was an opportunity to demo the Middle East Media project at an international conference in Qatar … well, something like this was definitely a good reason/excuse to finalize the “beta” version of this site.  One of the major changes was modifying the header.php file as we added a few PHP lines to check if the page being displayed is one of the new “custom taxonomy” pages or not.  Overall, this project has allowed us to test some of the functionalities that WordPress and its plugins can offer to this type of scholarly websites.

closed captioningLast, we finally have some good news for the Miami Video Captioning PILOT project, this week we’re getting ready to hire 2-3 students who will be helping us transcribe selected videos.   We’re still hoping to launch a site for this pilot project sometime around the 2015 Access For ALL Symposium.  Finally, with all the TO-DOs I had for the first half of October, it was easy to completely forget about an IFLA book chapter proposal … however, the editors were kind enough to extend the deadline for a week and now my proposal is in review :-)

Esto es todo por ahora, hasta la próxima!

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Web stuff, accessibility and games!

I believe the words in the title of this post are good terms/tags to describe what my summer was “all” about -at least when I was on campus :-)

web developmentIn the world of websites, I spent a couple of weeks finalizing our new responsive Scholarly Commons site, which is one of the latest contributions by @mire.  On top of the required CSS edits for the look-and-feel, two tweak examples included: adding a submit option in the drop-down menu for logged in users and re-embedding a video player from Kaltura.  As a new member of the library’s web team, I also welcomed the opportunity to start doing some work in Drupal, my main contribution was with a new content type for items (hardware) that we check out.  And in July, I devoted most of my time to the WordPress’ MEM project, it was a bit confusing but we believe we now have the “taxonomy” requirement under control.  The “aha moment” was I learned that new URLs for browsing taxonomies require a re-save of the “permalinks” even if you don’t change anything on the permalinks settings … wish I knew this before :-(

In July, we also learned that our 5K Tech Fee proposal for a Miami Video Captioning PILOT project was awarded and soon we’ll hire 2-3 students to help us transcribe some videos.  The ultimate goal is to evaluate a model that can allow us create more accessible videos and make them available in existing systems (e.g. Kaltura and Niihka) in an affordable and efficient way.  One of our student assistants has been a big help over the summer and we look forward to getting started with this.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt to know that now there is an institutional agreement with 3PlayMedia -we definitely plan to use their service for the text and video sync process.  Our current example is available at http://vimeo.com/99351098

ARISLast but not least, the NEH grant project -AKA as the An Interactive Quest for Social Justice- has also taken a good chunk of time.  It’s been a great experience and we’re lucky to have a group of students who have been extraordinarily helpful in producing a design document … and in implementing/testing the game in ARIS.  It’s also good to have the ARIS experts in the consulting team, the two hangouts we’ve had with them have been productive and we look forward into getting some extra help in early September.  Perhaps my only complain is with time and Google, why couldn’t we/they wait for the new ARIS 2.0 editor? Why did Google have to discontinue their Maps Flash API exactly now? Oh well, I guess that’s part of the excitement in late 2014.

Finally, this week also seemed as a good start for my new IMS 201 class, and apparently teaching at 9am can actually help me have more productive days … just hope it continues like that … hasta pronto!

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