URT so good? Not so much

As I’ve documented in previous process blogs, I have had a particularly difficult time limiting the scope of my project into a manageable portion.  It’s not only because of the “how”, but also because of the “why”.  Decisions to focus my project to certain graffiti writers and certain stories have become completely arbitrary.  And I’m still not comfortable with this arbitrariness, particularly in the midst of a project that forces us to focus on data points and specificity.

And so here I sit with a mountain of materials.  My failure to narrow my focus is wreaking havoc on me, even now.  Every story leads me down a new rabbit hole, haphazardly chasing after a neat story, an interesting writer, or a curious piece of graffiti.

The infamous(?) URT crash of my project for four hours yesterday did not do me any good, either, but I think in hindsight there are many things I should have done differently:

  1. Let go of the data points.  I think had I first approached the project simply as research, and allowed the materials to lead me down a path, I would have achieved much greater clarity regarding my scope.  Focusing on the tool before focusing on the story was the wrong way to go.  I have mostly been looking for scattered elements to plot, and not necessarily a coherent story to tell.
  2. Tinker around with URT, even if it does break.  Working in URT much sooner, practicing how to plot points, how to create record references, and so on, would have made a world of difference.  Had we first worked on a test project, or had I simply forced myself to become more comfortable with the system within my own project (as opposed to fearing the beast), I feel the “real” plotting would have progressed much more smoothly.
  3. Understand and develop a data framework sooner.  In spite of our data modeling class, I continued to agonize for too long over how to plot something — a memory — that often lacked specific detail.  Discovering how to create a relationship layer that allowed this “many to many” record reference was absolutely crucial to the structure of my map.  And yet I didn’t reach this conclusion until very late.

When given some distance from this project, I’m sure there will many more lessons to be learned.  I think the critical reminder I keep holding onto is that this is simply a beginning.  Our projects don’t need to be tied up into a neat little package, but they do need to provide a framework for future works to. . . I’m going to say it. . . make it URT so much better than I did.


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