A Self-Evaluation

For my final process blog, I want to reflect on the process of creating the map itself, specifically on what I learned from the process and from the project, in this final analysis.

There are many aspects of my project that I would amend, if embarking on it now. I did not quickly enough adjust my focus away from the drive towards research. I took the idea that I was building a data set from scratch, and forgot to give equal attention to its direction, or to what exactly I would say once acquiring and organizing the data set. I should have earlier explored the URT program, and realized its potential, then assessed how my individual project could best be part of and compliment that larger project, URT. I should have explored the written archives earlier(the documents from the New York Times)–such a simple thing that occurred to me so late in the semester, but which has added as equally an important element to my project as the images I obsessed on finding. I realize my part in the flaws of my final map and my process; they are disappointing, but I think they can be helpful to future students, as warnings that I myself foolishly ignored.

However, I cannot say that I do not feel a certain satisfaction at the final map as well. The topic of street name signs is not exciting in itself, but what is exciting is creating a new area of research for future students and users of URT. Now it will be possible for someone else to more substantially flesh out the bare(ish) bones of an idea that remains relevant in the city today, as the street name signs prepare to be changed again. Someone might be able to begin a socio-political exploration/excavation proven through the degradation of signage in specific neighborhoods, streets and avenues. Someone might be able to investigate the clearly nostalgic turn that certain neighborhoods today have in their current signage. Someone might be able to critically evaluate the deeper meanings of the historic districts in the city, using my project as a springboard for historical background.

This project, and the process of the project, has been quite enlightening. Of course I wish (and I’m sure I’m not alone) there was more time to add more dimensions to the final map. But as a beginning, even though I did not meet all of my goals, I think the completed work is valuable and may prove itself so for future students and URT users.

2 comments

  1. I’m so glad you see the potential *future* value of your project. You’ve blazed a new trail, Sienna; that’s worth celebrating. But of course the project you *have* created, despite its many seeming flaws and its incompleteness, has tremendous value in its current form. I’ll say more about this in my formal evaluation. And equally valuable is what you’ve learned about your process — about archival research and building datasets, about designing connections between individual projects and larger collective endeavors, etc. Yes, these new understandings might’ve emerged in retrospect, as you look back on what you would’ve done differently. But those realizations are no less valuable simply because they’ve emerged in hindsight and are based on perceived flaws. The fact that you’ve already transformed those “flaws” into new understandings about your subject, your research process, and your*self* is fantastic.

  2. Thank you for the research and for the public access to a part of NYC history that you have cataloged in pictures and articles. I have an interest in the elegant old “Humpback” blue signs framed in cast iron. The market is quite active on Ebay. Thank you again, Bill

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