The idea for this project originated from a sophomore year Thanksgiving vacation, where I first saw an Operation Track Sweep poster. I was struck by the specific language used as it made me feel as if I was part of a community with the MTA. I investigated these feelings through different posters, eventually culminating in an essay for ENGL 203: Climate Fiction.
The concepts were inherently visual, and formatting my ideas for an essay was challenging, so when I enrolled in ENGL/INTD 388: Digital Humanities, I had this very project in mind for digitization.
Traditional humanities projects attempt to teach readers about some critical element of human society through a written or vocalized medium. Digital humanities is a budding field where traditional humanities projects can utilize more analytical space through the use of computer software, online tools, or any number of digital resources.
For this website, I took a traditional humanities project and adapted it into a digital humanities project, maintaining some traditional elements while adding new digital elements to make the project more suitable for an online platform.
The purpose of this project is to show how the MTA builds a community between a company and its consumers through carefully crafted advertisements in a way that benefits both the MTA and the riders. This analysis is worthwhile to both consumers and companies alike, as consumers can become more consciously aware of the impacts felt from different styles of advertisements, and companies can be prompted to change their style of advertising from a toxic consumeristic cash-grab to a more positive and mutually beneficial model. This is essentially the traditional humanities aspect of my project. Examining how a corporation can use advertisements to influence its customers is useful to corporations and consumers alike, showing how interactions between different groups of people can be mutually beneficial. This project reinforces the importance of community in maintaining healthy and ecologically efficient lives, which benefits everyone involved if practiced truthfully.
As a traditional humanities project would, I break down and compare elements from various works in order to convey a pattern in messaging that the MTA uses to the mutual benefit of the company and its riders. Yet moving past traditional humanities into digital humanities, WordPress and Preview were two programs highly utilized in order to cement this projects place in the digital humanities.
Along with a full-size photo of each advertisement, I made smaller edited versions of their elements that I discuss in each blog post, and integrated them with the text. This allows users to directly compare my analysis to the related elements without having to move back and forth around the page and search for each specific element in the photo, while potentially forgetting what the analysis was or losing their place in the text.
Each advertisement being in its own blog post allows for a certain level of interactivity between the reader and the content, where one can comment on each advertisement’s blog post or share the posts to social media. I encourage this response from readers, as I am always looking for feedback to improve myself or to consider in future projects.
Embedded YouTube videos within posts and intuitive analysis of their content is something unique to a digital project. Having a video able to be played within the blog post allows users to easily compare advertisements to the video while taking the provided analysis into account. A traditional humanities project would not have access to such a dynamic interface for analyzing video content and comparing videos to text and other photos.
On the homepage, snippets of each blog post – the title of the piece, the beginning of the text analysis, and a portion of the images – give users a taste of the advertisements that they will read about in each blog post, and make the posts seem more enticing.
WordPress was used to host and build the website, and Preview was used to edit the photographs shown in the backgrounds and blog posts. The ease of use for both of these programs was integral to this project’s success. WordPress allowed me to keep the content of my project while changing the themes, which was hugely useful in finding the perfect theme for my ideas. WordPress also allowed me to update each photo as I edited them in Preview, so I did not have to worry about messing up the website’s formatting as I continued to edit old and add new content.