The past week has been very productive in shaping my project but also extremely stressful. For me, changing my project topic to make a more specific argument and analyze a smaller scope has initially felt like a huge compromise and limitation. However, after reformulating my argument a bit, I actually really liked the direction I have gone in of using Ibn Battuta’s travels as a lens through which I can illustrate the cultural and economic interconnectivity of the Indian Ocean world. While I was pretty excited about moving in this direction, I have faced more bumps in the road after speaking to a librarian about hashing out my argument. While the lens was narrowed, my argument was still said to be too broad or too big for a DH project and more like a dissertation. I struggled a little because I felt as though the Indian Ocean in general is seen as too big to analyze and therefore I must choose a specific region or city. This I feel really takes away from my project as the point is to illustrate a mobile maritime community that isn’t founded only in one region. However, I realized that I can still use a case study to make a broader argument about the roles of Hadramis in Indian Ocean port cities and still also utilize Ibn Battuta’s travel descriptions of these cities. After updating John Clark on this new trajectory, I felt a lot better about this switch and I don’t have to make too many changes to the map I will be creating in ArcGIS as it will mostly serve as a background illustration for information that I will bring to life in Neatline using pop-ups and the timeline.
Another positive has been that compiling data for Ibn Battuta’s travels has been far more easier and focused. I messed around a little bit with ArcGIS and was able to reorient the Indian Ocean in Yemeni-centered way fairly easily, so it seems that with the help of John making my base layer maps won’t be extremely time consuming as long as my data tables are well structured and documented. Moreover, after looking at some Neatline tutorials I can really see my project come into shape; now it’s just about executing my plan. I think my maps and Neatline annotations have a lot of potential and I have compiled a majority of my data which makes it feel more possible. I am considering learning HTML because I am not really pleased with how my Omeka site looks, but if it becomes overly time consuming I might have to make another sacrifice. Overall, I have been facing a lot of challenges both in terms of my argument and how I want my site to be built; however, I have been rolling with the punches and I definitely can envision my project with a more realistic lens than initially. I also feel that the compromises I have made will pay off in the long run and it will be something I will probably be more aware of after the fact than in the moment.