Self Assessment

This project was a challenge; it was time consuming, it was unfamiliar territory, and it was also just big. However, now that its done (or as done as it is going to be) I’m actually pretty happy with it. I can zoom right in on what my biggest weakness was in creating this map: too many words. I did not (and still do not) trust the map to make my argument for me, or to really do much beyond serve as another picture in a paper. After having done this sort of stuff one way for so long, it is really hard to break some of these habits. It makes it harder for the viewer to use, but it also made it harder for me to put together. I felt obligated to include all the information I could, and that resulted in records being LONG. There is some significant scrolling to be done with my map. Also, it made it hard for me to keep track of what I had written where because it was not a linear paper, which is in part exactly the point of this exercise. In treating it as such, I wound up forcing some information into some records that was probably unnecessary, but I just could not get past going without.

It was really only in the last hours of putting this all together that I finally let the map speak for itself (but I only let it do that for me, everyone else will have to read all the text I wrote up). I had gone into this thinking in terms of a bunch of different arguments that were not necessarily related, and that would exist only between two or three shows. Once I actually started mapping points, I found the clustering interesting and starting thing about why one thing wound up wherever it was. I realized that the arguments I had been thinking about existed in these clusterings, but not the way I thought. Rather, they were all part of a larger argument that pivoted around the center or Manhattan. They represented a way to talk about how people move upward socially, and what that translates to in terms of actual geography. So I landed on my upward mobility versus bohemia argument, and the whole thing pivots around central park. In this model, new shows can easily be integrated onto either side, or in some cases both. The larger arguments also leave room to address many smaller issues that on their own would not represent all that much of an argument.

This project really made me hyper-aware of how linearly I work. I like to be able to move up and down on a paper and draw straight lines through my arguments. This map really challenged that habit of mine and forced me to look a harder into what I was doing and how I was doing it. I am curious to see as this platform grows how viewers react to it in general, and how they go about finding and understanding the arguments, not having been the one to put the map together.

Generally speaking, I enjoyed the whole experience, and I am definitely convinced of the benefits of multimodal scholarship. I came into this class very much from the school of people who think that academia is papers and lectures, but I am coming around to this more multimodal (and honestly, a lot more fun) version of academia. It also made me realize how crucial something like knowing how to code will be in multimodal academia. Anyone can take a pen to paper and write, but that really can’t be said of coding. In multimodal scholarship, where the platforms are dependent on coding, I found myself frustrated sometimes that I could not just go into URT and just make it do what I wanted it to do. Even though I only have one more semester left here, I’m going to try and use it to learn a bit more about coding and what goes into making a website (I don’t imagine I could work on something as complicated as URT after one semester though…).

All in all, I am definitely glad I completed this project, and got to watch a bunch of broadway shows while doing it!

1 Comment

  • Thanks, Robin! It’s amazing how many people mention that their mapping projects have inspired a serious reflection on their research and production processes! I’m glad you’ve had this experience, too — and that you’ve discovered a new interest in coding!