Last week the new Praxis cohort ratified its charter. This important document ended up demanding much more deliberation than we had anticipated. Nonetheless, after a couple weeks of thinking about what really mattered to us in commencing our program, we established a set of core beliefs and structuring principles which I believe will help guide us through a very exciting year.
We took inspiration from the previous cohorts’ charters in several respects because in many ways we feel we are continuing in the same tradition. We, too, will conduct our work in the spirit of open source. We, too, feel that a key part of this experience will be our all sharing credit for the project. We also hope to learn programing skills central to DH professions, and we plan to launch a digital tool at the end of the year as an outcome of our participation in the program.
A key tenet which is of primary importance to our particular cohort is that of flexibility, and this ideal influences many aspects of our charter. For instance, we want the tool we build to be adaptable for various scholarly needs. As of yet, we are in the early stages of conceptualizing this tool, and the issue of flexibility and utility will no doubt arise as we progress. (I anticipate many reflective blogs to come on that topic.) Perhaps even more importantly, we plan to be flexible–understanding, sensitive–with each other. We all come from different scholarly and professional backgrounds, and we all have personal lives with various demands and responsibilities. It will be our goal to be supportive of each other personally while working together to make the Praxis experience an enriching one for all.
Last Wednesday, Eric and Wayne showed us how to use a text editor, Github, and a rake task to publish the new charter on the Praxis website. This was our first lesson in programing. Our brilliant SLab computer mentors encoded the new charter text in Markdown, committed it to our code repository, and then let us do the simple–but no-less-important–step of hitting “Enter.” Upon striking the key, watching a whir of yet incomprehensible code flash across the screen, and thus finalizing our newly forged charter, we felt a rush of glee. In that moment, we had plunged headfirst into the new and intriguing world of Digital Humanities, and we had a charter to guide our voyage.