(Digest #5) More Reflections on Project Management

It has been a couple weeks since my last digest, but as you can see from other posts, the Praxis goings-on are many! Development scurries to fix the multitude of bugs that seem to keep crawling out of the WordPress woodwork, while Design continues to apply CSS, SASS, and SUSY to bring our vision of Ivanhoe to fruition. Meanwhile, Francesca and I draft, revise, and reorganize content for our informational website, which will go up next week.

As Project Manager, I have been busy getting word out about Ivanhoe, preparing for the Praxis panel and demo on April 4, gathering testers, and constantly rethinking how we want to present our new game to the world.

I also continue to reflect on my own role as project manager. A few weeks back, I chronicled my project-management crisis, in which I reached a point where I wasn’t entirely sure what my purpose was because my team needed very little actual management. As we rapidly approach our soft launch (April 8), I realize how very much I have to do in terms of promoting Ivanhoe and organizing the next major phase of the project: testing.  In writing my post on testing, sending emails to prospective testers, and preparing Ivanhoe web content, I have to consider what people unfamiliar with Ivanhoe need to know about it. I also find myself revisiting the question which our team debated through the entirety of the first semester: what is Ivanhoe?

I am not going to speculate on what Ivanhoe is in this post; for my presentation of the game, check out my “Call for Testers” post. What I do wish to take a moment to marvel at is how having to present Ivanhoe to others has made me see new aspects of it which I hadn’t considered before. While showing the game to a friend just last night in a sort of informal think-tank session, I discovered just how useful it is to be able to view a string of posts containing YouTube videos, image files, text, and web links, one after another. Our Theme also allows users to view a list of all the moves a player has made in a given role, which makes it easy to see how the player has developed that role over the course of the game. Essentially, we have streamlined multimedia game play and greatly facilitated role review. When Ivanhoe comes out, and after we kill all the bugs, of course, it will be easy to use for collaborative multimedia game play.

I see even better now how my role as project manager is both coherent and vital.  By being at the forefront of publicity, I constantly revisit the question of what Ivanhoe is, and I can bring those insights back to team meetings and use them to guide us as we continue to make decisions about features and design details. At the end of “On Managing Projects, Not People,” I mentioned that the task of maintaining our vision for Ivanhoe was at that point “a bit amorphous and abstract.”  I now have a much better idea of how very real that job is.  I look forward to presenting that vision to the world, incarnate, in a couple weeks.

This past May, 2014, I completed my M.A. in English at the University of Virginia. As a graduate student I focused on American literature, textual studies, and learning as much about digital humanities as possible. I served as project manager for the 2013-14 Praxis cohort, rebuilding the Ivanhoe Game. I now work at Rare Book School and the Washington Papers doing bibliographical research and social media. In my spare time I enjoy jamming on my violin, researching family history, and having movie nights with friends. I love ballroom dance, can't get enough opera, and enjoy making gourmet pizza at home.

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