Welcome to the final post of the Kitchen Table series for #TechTuesday.
It’s gone so fast! But looking back, we’ve covered a lot of ground:
- We began this Tech Tuesday series with an introduction to the unique challenges facing the Language in Lyrics project. Basically, what the technical obstacles are in our attempt to create an online database of Gaelic songs, and what we’ve learned from then.
- Then explained the Digital Humanities field…
- Then explored other online Gaelic projects that populate the landscape…
- Then explained the kind of the technology that powers some of those projects (WordPress, Wiki, other Content Management Systems).
We’ve spent a lot of time discussing the specifics of particular software, of coding languages, of back-ends and front-ends, of esoteric academic fields.
Why discuss the nuts and bolts?
You can’t build the table without them.
Back to the Kitchen Table
On this final post of this #TechTuesday series, I wanted to come back to our theme of the kitchen table. I wanted to focus on bringing the various threads of our tech conversation back together in order to look beyond them. I want us to look towards the overarching purpose of the project.
It’s the purpose that, at the end of the day, all the technology is merely supporting. The table that all the nuts and bolts are holding up.
If we were to list the purposes of the Language in Lyrics project, what sort of things would we come up with?
We can talk about wikis, WordPress, digital humanities theory, content management systems, and all the rest as much as we want. But they are only supporting our ultimate goal. The point of it all is to have a conversation around the kitchen table.
And how do all those pieces work together to support our ultimate goal? Well, sticking with our table metaphor, it could look something like this:
What are the legs of our table? These are the base supports of the project: the Gaelic language, digital humanities theory, CMS/database software, and the songs and stories themselves.
What’s underpinning the top? The connectors. Things like interpersonal relationships, the code, and the song database itself.
What’s running along the table edge? The big themes like collaboration, communication, identity, and memory that are running through everything we do.
What’s on the table top? The main course, our main goal: language revitalization through music.
Language in Lyrics is our contribution to the Digital Humanities landscape, but more importantly, it’s our contribution to the Gaelic community.
It is our goal to use technology, in the form of our Gaelic song database, to facilitate real-life no-screen conversations around the kitchen table – or any kind of table for the matter. But a kitchen table holds a special place in our culture. For Gaels, this is where the heart of life happens. Cups of tea. Conversations with loved ones. Visits. Ceilidhs. Writing letters. Reading. Learning new things. Fostering old friendships. Creating new relationships. Eating meals together. Having discussions, heated and peaceful. Singing songs, new and old.
Our purpose in one sentence: language revitalization through music. Providing the nuts and bolts (songs and the database) to build the table (a vibrant Gaelic community).
A Final Coda: news on our database!
After all the discussion of different approaches and hosting platforms, you may be wondering: where is the Language in Lyrics database currently at now?
We faced some barriers along the way since we have a small, time-sensitive budget and none of our team members have extensive coding or web design skills. This made both paying a third party to build our database, or building it ourselves from scratch, a challenge. You’ve been with us as we’ve explored our various options through this blog series.
In the end, our friends over at the Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic (DASG) have come to the rescue and their experienced design team has taken on the task of creating a platform to house and present our song data. We are delighted! True collaboration around the virtual kitchen table. We saw a prototype just this week and are feeling encouraged – we can’t wait to share it will you all when it’s ready!
After that, if just one person uses our database to learn a new song, we will have succeeded. If someone looks up a word from one of the song titles they don’t know, same thing. If someone decides to learn Gaelic because of a song they find through us, that too is success.
Language in Lyrics takes to heart the motive of many Digital Humanities projects: it’s about providing a tool; showing a new way of looking at information; making raw data useful.
It’s about the “digital” making real life better.
It’s about the kitchen table.
Aleen and the Language in Lyrics team