What I’m working on
I am planning out the 4th Annual OU Creaties for this year. Every year we honor the best students and faculty who created the best new websites and web content in OU Create. This year we’re moving away from a physical event and focusing instead on a video that celebrates the achievements of the Create community. This week we’ve been collecting nominations and laying the ground work for the awards. This includes everything from preparing 3D printed trophies, to updating the website, to getting graphics set up for the awards video.
This week I also worked on a pair of web development projects. I’ve been working with the Carl Albert Center here at OU for a couple of months now on transitioning what had been a biannual print magazine/journal into a digital publication. Extensions, as the magazine is called, is keeping most of its format in terms of featured articles and news from the center. Most of the work then was just in translating the look of the glossy publication into the website.
In working with the staff at Center, Katherine McRae, Chuck Finocchiaro, and Michael Crespin, we drew out on white boards the layout of the home page and how we could use the categories and tags in WordPress to build a new layer of discoverability into Extensions. We picked out a theme, and then I did some tweaking in the CSS and plugins to get everything to match up.
I learned a couple of things on this project. We found a plugin that handles footnotes pretty well, Easy Footnotes, and another that allows us to add author information for the articles even though those authors don’t actually have access to the backend of the site, Simple Authorbox.
The other project that I focused on this week was a site for the Italian Program here at OU. The Modern Languages Department has its own site within our university CMS, but the smaller programs like Italian don’t have their own sites. They wanted something that would spotlight both the students and faculty and explain to students why they should study Italian at OU.
We have great study abroad programs at Arezzo and Bologna, so there are tons of great images to work with. Dr. Irene Bulla sent me tons of great copy for the site, so the main challenge for me was just laying everything out. I think there’s still some tweaking to do on that front to get it looking great, but I’m pretty happy with where we are.
What I’m Reading
I’m trying to read a book every week this year. This week I read:
There have been several articles over the last week about Sally Rooney and her new book Ordinary People. I just got the new book off of ILL, but I thought I would check out her first book, Conversations with Friends, while I waited.
Rooney’s writing style is really interesting. The book is driven by conversation using face-to-face, email, and text conversations to build an epistolary framework for a ménage à quatre. There is very little superfluous description of settings, and the book would feel brisk if there was a traditional, central narrative to follow. However, the story is character driven, looping through the coming of age of a pair of millenial, Irish college students. I enjoyed the book while disliking pretty much all of the characters. I’m going to try to write up more of my thoughts soon.
This week, I finished reading Peter Brown’s The Wild Robot Escapes to my daughter, Evie. We had read The Wild Robot about a month ago, and both tell the story of a robot named Roz who washed up on shore on a remote island. Peter Brown uses the robot and her animal friends as an allegory about family, community, and life. I strongly recommend these books to anyone with kids old enough for some direct conversations. You can find my longer write up here.
I also listened to a book called The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. The book strongly reminded me of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in that it was a gothic noir told within a similar interview framing device. Both this book and Rooney’s Conversations feature well educated female leads who casually allude to literary and intellectual figures to make their points.