repository tuesdays

This post originally appeared as a project update for the Institute on Digital Archaeology Method and Practice here. See the original posts for images and comments.

I’m trying to shift from my reliance on deadlines toward a more Lean-based project management approach centered on efficiently completing tasks, thanks to advice from one of my project mentors, Daniel Pett. The trick here is that I’m going to have to get pretty ruthless about scheduling Institute project time. I’m feeling like it’s a little risky to try an unfamiliar way to organize my workflow, but the principles of Lean (namely not relying on a set schedule, but completing small tasks in succession) make an incredible amount of sense. From here on out, I decree that, with the exception of providing urgent assistance to customers, Tuesday will be Repository Day.[i] So, while I’m moving away from schedules and deadlines, I’m also finding it helpful to look at a very general calendar, just so I know when I should be expecting to hit benchmarks and so I can watch out for danger zones.

As of this morning, I’ve finally got my “showcase” projects selected. Here is a quick list of all the cool stuff that the repository and accompanying site will [likely] contain:

  • Croaker Landing: Two Woodland period sites excavated in the 1970s north of present-day Yorktown
  • The Andrew Pittman Site: Pittman was a late 18th– to early 19th– century potter (earthenware) in Frederick County, Virginia
  • Maycock’s Point: A Woodland settlement with extensive shell midden deposits
  • Two 18th – century wooden vessels found in the Mattaponi River Lumpkin’s Jail, a component of Richmond’s slave trade epicenter
  • Jordan’s Journey, a 17th– century settlement
  • A multi-component site on the Appomattox River spanning over four thousand years of occupation
  • Rocketts, the racially and ethnically diverse merchant community just below Richmond that flourished through the mid 19th century

I’ve been working on schema and diving headfirst into Dublin Core. One question I’m still circling is this- should I develop different schema for different media types? Or do I not need to be that granular? I’ve been poking around other people’s KORA schema and will continue to do so. Putting my projects in print on this blog post is, in itself, great motivation. It’ going to be so exciting to see how the public responds.

In addition to the main one pictured, I’ve got another Trello board set up for the front end public webpage, but that’s just starting to come together. For now, I need to wireframe, plan the webmap, and identify query fields. The most labor-intensive step ahead is to ingest the objects and give them all metadata. In addition to the gray literature reports themselves, I’m going to include at least a sample of related datasets, images, drawings, maps. etc. Luckily, I’ve got folks here to help, so I’m not going to be at it alone.

I can already feel the advantage of breaking tasks down. The gratification of moving to “done” is worth it. Clock’s ticking. Better get back at it…

[i] Break Things Thursday, my own separate initiative, was a great success for several months. Thursday is a half-day for me anyway, so I have been working at home (in order to use my own equipment free of restrictions) and focusing on learning technology skills. I’ll be eternally grateful for an employer who values employee development like this.

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