Presentation day is nigh upon us as we put some finishing touches on Mecca for Motorists. It has been a trying semester, and I am certain we will still have plenty of touch ups left to do before the final site is submitted, but we are happy with how our project has turned out From now until presentation we will spend our time double checking footnotes and the bibliography, ensuring all images can be enlarged (something that I was struggling with), and double checking links. Tonight’s practice presentation also went as well as we’d hoped for. We clocked on at an almost perfect time and feel we thoroughly—albeit quickly—covered all the necessary information that we would like our audience to be aware of.
This entry is a good deal shorter than my others but at this point there isn’t much to say. I am sure I’ll have plenty to ponder after the presentation is over and we get feedback, but until then we will be focusing on making both the website as well as the presentation as perfect as we possibly can.
This week I made some progress on the “Economy and Culture” page. I adding some more text to “Culture” concerning the Folk Arts Center. This particular institution was designed by the Southern Highland Crafts Guild to help promote, sell, and conserve Appalachian arts and crafts. I also added a few pictures to the “Natural” page under Locals and to the “Economy and Culture” page and fixed the text around the YouTube video! That particular issue gave me quite a bit of trouble, so I’m relieved to finally have it fixed. After reading one of Leah’s comments in Slack, I activated the Jetpack plugin in hopes that it would let me modify the CSS code as the main issue seemed to be WordPress rejecting the code I put in to make the text wrap around the video. I’m not sure if that’s what finally made it work, but it looks much better now!
There is still PLENTY of work to do before presentations. My next step is to finish with the “Economy” portion of the page and fix citations. I don’t foresee this step taking a very long time. From there I will turn to the “Land” page where I will put up more information about buying and selling and (hopefully) add a nice image of one of the maps showing private property that was effected by the placement of the BRP.
At this point we probably have missed a few of our milestones. Nevertheless, we feel like we are making good progress and will have the site done in time. I can personally speak for the many roadblocks (pun may have been intended) I have run into as I have built my pages, but many of these issues have turned out to be a blessing. The website is turning out quite differently than I had imagined it would, but it is far better than I had anticipated. I look forward to showing you all the end result!
This week did not see much progress on the website, unfortunately. I added some more information under the “Economy and Culture” page, and more specifically under the Culture section. What I added dealt primarily with music, but I plan on including a short paragraph about the Folk Art Center as well. This new information changed my overall take on culture a bit. Originally, it had a slightly negative tone that suggested the local culture was somewhat stagnant. However, this new take doesn’t actually imply the culture was stagnant so much as it indicates locals used tourism and the Parkway to help keep aspects of their traditional culture alive. I attempted to include a YouTube video of a WNC Folk artist on the page and, although I successfully embedded the code, the words will not wrap around the video as I had hoped they would. I am certain I will figure out a way around this, but so far all of my attempts to correct this have failed. After our meeting with Dr. Dunn on Thursday we got plenty of ideas about logistics and organization, corrections that need to be made, and what direction we would like to continue in.
Tomorrow Liz and I are set to meet Jackie at the BRP archives at 10:30 to look through some more images. We plan on focusing on mileposts and overviews but I am hopeful I will be able to locate images displaying recreational activities on the Parkway and perhaps even pictures of locals as well.
Naturally I am disappointed in my lack of progress this week. These things understandably happen and serve as a good reminder that things do not always go as planned, but I am looking forward to doubling my efforts in the week to come. In the meantime I want to thank Liz for setting up tomorrow’s meeting with Jackie. We are excited about getting some more pictures up on the website to make it a little more aesthetically pleasing. Onward and upward!
After a few days of going over feedback from the rough draft of the site, I have finally begun making some edits. I haven’t gotten as far as I would have liked, but I am pleased to say things are definitely moving along. Today I made some adjustments to the Home page, adding some additional instruction on the structure of the website and what visitors may expect to find. Based on feedback regarding our menu, I added a description of the different sections and their subpages. I linked every page so that a visitor may click on Locals, for instance, and be taken to that page, or they can click on Economy and Culture to go to that page. I am hoping that this description will be sufficient in explaining the website so as to avoid any confusion concerning the structure. I have also begun linking all abbreviations so that clicking on them will redirect a visitor to the Glossary and Bibliography page. So far I have only completed this task on the Home page, but since we have decided this is the direction we want to go in, it should be easier from here on out to link all other abbreviations on the site.
I have added the “UP NEXT:” area at the bottom of the Home, Locals, Land, and Economy and Culture. I also added an image on the Land page that I feel illustrates “land leases” and “scenic easements” nicely. Perhaps one of my biggest successes concerns footnotes. While building my last website, I experienced absolutely no trouble linking footnotes, but I was told that not every theme is as footnote-compatible as the one we used, so it wasn’t unexpected when I faced difficulties with the BRP site. After much help from Amanda, one of UNCA’s magnificent librarians, we obtained a code that would allow us to link the superscript number to the footnotes section at the bottom of the page. Amanda took care of the one footnote on the Home page and left me with the code, but it proved more challenging than I expected. After a lot of confusion and links that led nowhere, I finally got the code to work properly on the entire Locals section! I still haven’t figured out how to force the link to take the viewer directly to the coinciding note below, but it does in fact redirect the reader to the footnotes portion of the page. I’m not sure I can articulate the relief that I felt at that moment.
Although the site is coming along nicely, I still feel a small amount of anxiety regarding our primary sources (or mine, rather). There has been—and still is—so much to sift through. From maps to superintendent reports to newsletters to oral histories, the amount of information that we have to process is overwhelming. However, anxieties aside, I have every confidence that the website will turn out fantastic. At the very least I have managed to gain the attention of a certain Dr. Anne Whisnant on Twitter! Perhaps this is due to the hashtags that I use fairly regularly or because someone from the UNCA History Department professor mentioned our work to her, but either way we now have outside professionals paying attention to our project which is perhaps the most exciting and terrifying thing that an undergraduate student can experience.
Having completed the first rough draft of our website, we realized that things turned out a bit differently than we had expected. I don’t think this is a bad thing, just different. As a History student I am quite used to my research taking an unexpected turn, so this wasn’t difficult to cope with. I was happy to see that there ended up being more writing on some of the pages than I had originally anticipated. Even the most of the shorter pages have a footnote or two! We are also relieved that we have finally settled on a menu, subpages, and colors for the site.
Even with our little successes—the footnotes, a decent homepage, a glossary and bibliography that are slowly but surely growing—we realize where we are lacking. We did not include all of the pictures that we have on the actual website yet, but we didn’t need to in order to realize that we need to obtain some more images. I also recognized where I needed more sources and what sources were absolute goldmines.
It has been a long and stressful couple of weeks, but it is nice to have a (very) rough outline of our website. At the very least, it gives us a better idea of how we would like to develop the website from here on out.