In my last blog post, I covered the challenges I was facing with my current exhibit project for the next step in my Digital Public Humanities program. Unfortunately, these problems have continued to persist, resulting in a slowdown of project momentum. Thankfully, it is not all woes this time around. There has definitely been some progress made despite the evolving situation in my state.
As previously mentioned, the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in my state has drastically altered the daily routines of life. Practically all colleges/universities are now under “modified operations.” Because I work at a college, I have had to spend a significant amount of time adjusting my work schedule to accommodate my job duties while organizing my personal life in such a way that it does not jeopardize those close to me. Enacting social distancing practices while also securing my home and resources has detracted from the time I originally allocated to do this project.
For example, I am still having trouble with conducting my interviews. I originally had five participants I selected to interview, but this number has now decreased. One of my desired participants is an Elder of the Puyallup Tribe. While I might still be able to have some contact with her, I have decided to not go for an in-person interview at this time due to her higher risk of contracting the virus if I were to be unknowingly exposed to it. Additionally, a couple of my previously scheduled interviewees cancelled because they self-quarantined themselves.
Furthermore, as I have adjusted my views on what I want to accomplish with this project, I have had to make adjustments to the actual interviews I want to conduct. This includes the questions I had planned to ask and the need to gain express permission for their use.
Solutions and Steps
As it now stands, I have rescheduled some interviews and will hopefully have that data to work with soon and host in my exhibit. I have redesigned some of the questions to align more with what I am seeking to explore with this project, namely the changes in the racial/political landscape in Seattle as it concerns American Indian-White relations in the city and surrounding areas.
I have also been working on how to better present my material. While I previously mentioned the method I will use to explore my desired materials, I have also been working on some other avenues for content. Because I work at a college in my state, I connected with a librarian who helped me locate some secondary source materials to use for my narrative descriptions of objects and some modified search functions through the database systems I have access to both at my place of employment and through George Mason University.
Regarding the copyright issue, I also decided to take a step further into that realm and see if I could actually get my hands on the rights to use a full digital image of an article for my exhibit. I am happy to report that for at least one of the images, I was granted permission after a lengthy request process through The Seattle Times (free of charge as a courtesy on their end!). With this in hand, I am continuing to work on the edits to my images in the gallery for the exhibit and the narrative descriptions that accompany them. I hope to have these finished by the end of Sunday (March 22) in order to have them publicly available for viewing.