The management of projects

The supreme Basement Archaelogist

There are projects, and then there are projects.

There are projects that reveal themselves as mere tasks when they’re completed in one or two sessions. There are projects that depend on the successful completion of others.

There are projects that have hard deadlines – whether set by yourself or by outside agents. Often there is a plan that determines which projects should be tackled immediately, those which can be delayed, or those that eventually get dropped altogether. There is also this thing called “life” – born as the unholy offspring of human nature, boredom, exhaustion, financial situations and changing personal circumstances.

Life doesn’t find a way. Life gets in the way.

Then there are the ongoing projects: responsibilities and maintenance tasks that you take on for reasons important to nobody but your own delusion of “the greater good”.

One project may delay the start of others. One of these is my “SA labels” project at Discogs.

About 1½ years ago I announced that I haven’t the resources to continue maintaining the increasing number of South African label/company entries in the database.

The plan was to rummage through and round up all the loose fragments of information, documents and image files that had accumulated over the years, then use them to profile and define each respective entry. Many of these companies no longer exist, leaving no choice but to base some of the profiles on snippets, hearsay, conjecture, and fallible memories via personal blogs and/or nostalgic Facebook posts about the “good old days” before everyone emigrated.

Some parties, I can’t help shake the feeling, may have even been actively deleting profiles and online information about certain business practices and licensing agreements from the past. Luckily Google Books’ scans of Billboard Magazine and own paper records and physical media cannot be un-printed.

Of course, nothing beats the information contained on the original physical media artefact. To help fill in some blanks and confirm often-contradictory statements, I got around to scanning and adding my stash of South African records and CDs into the database.

Grid of record sleeves

As enjoyable as listening to old, forgotten records and nerding out over metadata is, many entries lead to a labyrinth of mistakes made by previous users. There is no end in sight.

The more you look, the more new entries and gibberish you find. It gets depressing after a while. Items like Transistor Music, CCP Records or Mike Fuller Music (Pty.) Ltd. and related entities like publishers took much time and effort to correlate and repair. Companies and manufacturers like Teal/Trutone, Gallo/GRC, Sony/BMG/Sonopress and CDT remain on the to-do list. It is tiresome.

Sure, the database’s growth is a blessing: More users + more records + more data fields + more knowledge = more music history metadata preserved. This is good.

What is not good is that this is a project I wanted to actively abort months ago – yet I still haven’t brought myself to let go of this child’s hand.

Although it must learn to walk on its own, I’ll probably never see the end of it.

But first I’m taking a break from it. Other projects beckon.

Image credits: Scans by hmvhDOTnet

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