What Made the Dead so Grate?

My digital project serves two purposes surrounding the Grateful Dead. My first purpose is to illustrate where each Grateful Dead member got their influences. I also looked at the polarity of their songs. Since I am a long time Dead fan I had a lot of knowledge about them already, but I did not know very much about who or what drove them to create psychedelic rock. My research consisted of documentaries, interviews, the book “Deal” by Bill Kreutzmann, and online research to solidify the facts I already knew about each member. This project was completely different to what I was used to doing. When Professor Schacht introduced the idea, I was very scared up until the middle of October because I knew very well that I am not good with technology and understanding the use of computers. Throughout the course I learned a lot, we learned some coding, how to make a website, how to use Timeline JS (which I used in my project), how to embed youtube clips, pictures, or anything really. For my project I choose to use WordPress, the reason was because it looked like it would be easy to master and I did do a good job learning the ins and outs of the site. For my timeline I inserted every song that I selected to look into for the polarity of them. The first ten songs listed on my site are the songs that I believed were either happy or dark. Then the last six songs listed on my site are the songs that the software thought were the darkest or happiest. For the polarity section of my project Kirk Anne helped me a lot. He used a software called “Textblob”, the software computes all the words in each song to determine whether or not the song is dark or happy, Textblob and I had a couple of agreements and some disagreements.

Spreadsheet of song polarity: Made by Kirk Anne


The first challenge I faced was creating a website. I didn’t even start a website until the end of October because I didn’t know how to use it too well and I thought I would ruin the site altogether if I tried to get started. While I was still trying to get over my fear of technology, I did the research and wrote down all the content for my site using google docs. I overcame my fear by going to office hours with Kirk and Professor Schacht so they could help me better understand how to work WordPress and to do better in the course. I still have a one challenge left in my project; I wanted to cut out scenes from the Grateful Dead documentary on Amazon, but due to copyright issues I was never able to get this on my site. How did I overcome this obstacle? I noted down where I wanted to cut the scenes while watching the documentary so I could remember where I should go. Thankfully I did this because I decided to quote the scenes that I wanted to cut out. Although, it is not the way I wanted it to turn out because quotes are not nearly as good as someone from the band speaking about their experiences, I was still able to make it work.   

Screenshot from my site, the top bar is embedded from Archive.org and the bottom from YouTube.


My website is easy to navigate because I wanted to keep as simple as possible, but at the same time make fun and exciting for anyone who visits the site, not just Deadheads or people who enjoy reading about music.

Screenshot of the sidebar on my site

This is the only sidebar I have on my site, I choose to only do one because again, it kept the project simple and concrete. When you click on the arrow next to “influences” all the names of the band members get hidden. I like this aspect because it makes my site look clean and organized.

Throughout the semester I learned a lot and I am extremely happy that I took this course. All the digital tools that I have learned how to use this semester will be very useful in the future, whether it is for a school project or for a future job. Thank you Professor Schacht and Kirk for a wonderful semester!  

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