Tag Archives: dipity

24 hours in photos at suny oswego: mission accomplished, lessons learned.

Watching a Zamboni clear the ice at 3:12 a.m. Visiting our student ambulance corps at 2:23 a.m. Seeing students working on papers and projects in our library at 2:47 a.m. Smelling donuts frying at 4:42 a.m. Listening in the studio as WRVO starts its local news coverage at 5:30 a.m.

These are among the many things happening while most of the campus and community are fast asleep. And also among the many highlights of our successful 24 Hours in Photos project looking to capture the many facets and faces of SUNY Oswego from 12:01 a.m. to midnight on Friday, Dec. 2  — a fairly typical day on campus.

In addition to the wee hours happenings, much of the day captures academics, the arts, athletics and more — classrooms, study areas, student organizations, a student art opening, musical performance, formal event, two basketball games, a women’s hockey contest and much much more. Moments large and small. Public and private. Silly and sublime.

Friends at other colleges have shown an interest in doing similar projects, so I’m happy to pass along lessons learned:

Use a team. While I did a lot of shooting for those 24 hours, I had a half-dozen dedicated students helping collect images as well as our office photographer. I opened the contributions to the campus community, and students, faculty and staff submitted by emailing sunyoswego@posterous.com, tweeting with a #24hoursinphotos hashtag or directly submitting to me via email or Dropbox. The combination of team and crowdsourced contributors made for a marvelous variety and a nice level of community ownership. But the team also included entities like University Police, who let me ride along to capture many images, and Auxiliary Services, which allowed me to visit the on-campus bakery and an early-opening dining hall.

Plan extensively. I created and shared a Google document with other participants containing photo ideas we all contributed. I asked students to cover particular beats, areas and events as their schedule allowed. I laid out my own schedule of overnight shots, knowing that 12:01 to 7 a.m. could be a big challenge. And I directly solicited ideas and submissions from anyone I could think of, especially events staffers and student organizations.

But expect the unexpected. Outdoor shots were muted by an unusually rainy December day; I’m no fan of snow, but it would have been more picturesque. The foul weather meant I couldn’t capture a glorious lakeside sunset (one of our trademarks). Some student photographers had complications arise, but we found ways to adjust. And some of the best photos were utter serendipity, as one may expect.

Goals first, then tools. You’ve heard this from me before? Once we had the basic concept, I sought tools that could best execute. Dipity threw its share of challenges in along the way — such as occasional visitors finding a message saying they did not have permission to view the timeline — but I value its robust experience, so we finally upgraded to the $4.95/month package because the free version only allowed 150 photos and limited access options. Posterous worked marvelously in taking moderated photo submissions with easy download. And Dropbox once again proved an outstanding way to move large amounts of big files.

It did involve plenty of work for several people, but getting a half-hour of sleep between Wednesday and Friday was a worthy sacrifice for meeting the unsung heroes protecting campus, preparing food or operating necessary equipment while I’m usually dozing in a warm bed. If you’re interested in doing a similar project, feel free to ask questions here or drop me a line. It was an unforgettable and undeniably valuable experience demonstrating what wonderful people, places and events comprise our campus community.

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history, visualized: creating an interactive timeline via dipity.

With SUNY Oswego celebrating its sesquicentennial this year, we wanted to do some really neat stuff on the web. We started kicking around some kind of history timeline for the college and Rick, our resident web development genius, came across the simple yet powerful Dipity web application. The resulting interactive SUNY Oswego timeline has earned rave reviews.

With Dipity, you create a timeline, upload photos, caption them … and it’s just about that simple! Inserting the date automatically positions each entry. We’re running the basic version, which means the version on the Dipity site has ads … but we’ve also embedded it on our own site (sans ads). That said, we may yet ponder a paid version for multiple licenses … having easy-to-create timelines could be an excellent teaching aid for the academic area.

Those viewing your timeline can drag it back and forth to see different eras, click a photo to see more, adjust a bar to see longer or shorter timespans or tap little + signs at the bottom to see more photos in condensed time periods. Users can also view it in a flipbook mode. I find it user-friendly on both the back and front ends.

Developing our timeline was time-consuming only because of quantity and the desire to have something up quickly; I spent the better part of two days downloading hundreds of photos from Penfield Library’s Special Collections online archive, editing the photos, uploading to Dipity and creating captions. The Dipity part of the equation was probably the easiest part. In creating the timeline, you have thumb-up/thumb-down toggles that weight photos higher … meaning they are more likely to appear at the top.

Not many drawbacks I’ve found yet. Occasionally when I’d try to upload photos, I’d get a spinning icon that showed no progress, but I simply closed out of the interface box and tried again. Also, you’ll definitely want to crop and optimize the photos for the web first. We tried a beta version with larger photos and it was exceedingly slow. Now, with a couple hundred web-sized photos in our timeline, it moves pretty briskly. And alas, you can’t use an approximate time — like c. 1960s — because the site needs an exact year. Not ideal historiography, but you can explain in the caption.

All in all, a great and easy little program. Gathering content for it will take longer, but given the positive reaction we’ve had, I would highly recommend giving Dipity a try.

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