Kudos to Brooke for her excellent blog post this week. I believe she was writing it in the midst of a texting session with me, during which we each gave vent to plenty of grad student perfectionist angst (along the lines of “what on EARTH can I say this week that will be worthy the highly visible platform that is the SLab/Praxis blog??”). I’ve been inspired by her honesty in writing about what many of us are thinking: transparency sounds great in theory but is pretty terrifying in practice, especially for those of us relatively new to both the academy and to the DH community. But Brooke is also right about the speed of the Praxis program: we’re flying through the basics, and there is simply no time for perfection. This, I think, should count as our disclaimer for anything we may put up here, in the coming months, that may sound slightly crazy, impossible, or (heaven forbid) ill-written. We’re doing our best to keep up, and in exchange, we appreciate your indulgence.
That said, I do want to add a simple paragraph’s worth of unadulterated enthusiasm to the blog tonight with regard to Prism. In our meeting last Tuesday Bethany explained the basic concept, beginning with its origin in a text-analysis game involving Xeroxed texts and transparency overlays. The most exciting part about the proposed project, in my opinion, is so well-put by Bethany that I despair of rephrasing it more effectively. Here she is in her blog post this week: “What would happen if we could systematize, capture, and build collective interpretive energy — on shared understandings and unexpected disagreements?” Yes. What would happen? We are going to build something that allows us to peek into other readers’ interpretive, individual, creative minds. Any given book club discussion, literary journal, or scholarly society gathering testifies to the fact that everybody reads and processes texts differently: to think that with Prism we will be able to pin down a little bit of how and when that happens… I want to shout this from a rooftop somewhere! (And I suppose this blog is as good a place as any!) I’m with Brooke–I wish we could have Prism up and running tomorrow, as long as that didn’t mean my internship at the Praxis Program was over. Fortunately (and I mean this in all seriousness), we have a long way to go. I’m looking forward to every stress-inducing, joyous minute.