The web team, made up of Abigail Ettelman, Amanda Cole, and Sean Perkins, were tasked with designing this website to accompany the audio tour. Each of us brought different skills and experiences to the project, but no single person was an expert on everything that we needed to accomplish. For that expert advice, we consulted Elli Mylonas of Brown University’s Center for Digital Scholarship. She provided us with great advice given our budget, time, and skills.
Actually deciding what to put on the website was really an iterative process. Early on, we decided that the website should provide a permanent archive for the audio tour and create a space where people associated with Mashapaug Pond could connect with each other and learn more about oral history, environmental issues, or other themes from the tour. One of the great things about this project is that it’s so collaborative. That was also one of the greatest challenges in putting together a website so quickly. To a large extent we relied on other groups for content while we tried to organize the information in a presentable way.
We looked at other websites for ideas, drew sketches, discussed the sketches, and repeated. In a collaborative setting, the only way to be on the same page is to actually get something on the page and that’s what we did. It was a couple weeks into the project before we ever even registered a website domain name.
The website itself came together with ease. Our vision was there – it was just a matter of making it a reality. A semester of learning about oral history culminated in this final project and it was important to us that our finished product reflected what we had learned. We chose to include this section on the website because we believe that the process of learning about oral history is one of the most valuable components of this project. By practicing oral history and thinking about it in new ways (e.g., how do we convey themes pictorially, how can people engage with oral history in an online environment?) we gained a deeper understanding of what oral history really means. It means something different to everyone, and letting people engage with it in a variety of ways encourages new ideas and new discourses. As the stewards of this project, that’s all we can hope for.