Labor of Love — Curation and Birth

Saying that you are going to make a website and actually creating an webpage are two very different things. You can blather on about ideas for layout, collect new pieces, and take hundreds of photographs, but actually uploading them to the infosphere is a whole other process. 

Thus far, I had hand-selected a stellar staff (adding a third cook to the kitchen, Ellie Brumbaum became my newest/first Photo Editor), harassed writers and photographers into generating a respectable amount of text and images for the site, and planned the general aesthetic of what we wanted the page to be. Now, our task became breaking through the semi-permeable membrane of the screen—taking that content and those ideas and translating them into (another form of) digital media. It was time to do the heavy lifting, the coding that would take us from idea to product.

Before we began this process, I had an interesting philosophical debate in my head. Here, our class and group conference conversations about code really came in to play. It was weird to think about coding, because at the end of the day our content was not going to change very much once it was put on the site. All of the articles existed in e-mails, word documents, and Facebook messages. All of the photographs were taken on digital cameras and were stored in .JPEG and .IMG files. When we first started in on this project, it felt like we were taking physical paper media things and transcribing them into digital space. In truth, we were simply changing the organization of digital files, taking them out of private digital spaces and then displaying them in one public digital space. I realized that what we were doing was much less complicated and revolutionary that what our other team members do every two weeks for The Phoenix’s print edition. They take the same digital files that we use and transform them into physical media—a task that I realized was way more conceptually daunting than what we were doing.

The platform that we chose to host our media made our lives incredibly easy. Squarespace is designed with all of the tools that a web developer needs to create a user-friendly, graphically stimulating site. The fluidity with which the content was uploaded was relieving to say the least. Once we had designed the base framework of the site and had implemented basic digital infrastructures, it was a no brainer to copy and paste text, drag and drop photos, re-size and reformat text boxes and image galleries. We were not creating, truly, but curating.

Two weeks and hundreds of hours of uploading, copying, pasting, tweaking, shrinking, stretching, and re-configuring later, we had put up all of the content that we had spent so much time finding. Though the site was far from perfect (we still have a long way to go before it will be the publication that this campus deserves), it was ready to launch. As a last finishing touch, I wrote a letter to the student body explaining what the site was and why we made it. Writing this later felt like the last few, and the hardest, pushes of our labor. It was done. We had given birth to something brand new and uniquely ours. The only thing left to do was paste a link and hit “tweet.”

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