The (beautiful) truth about Praxis

I thought that this week I’d give you a behind-the-scenes peek at what we really do in the Praxis Program at the Scholars’ Lab. Brooke and I both wrote posts at the beginning of the semester about how much pressure we felt to appear polished and professional 24/7, but the reality is that 1) this is a learning process and 2) we’re only human. I applied to be part of the Praxis team because I wanted to work on DH with other people (not an opportunity that presents itself every day!) and it really is as great as I thought it would be. At the risk of making all of you hopelessly envious of our camaraderie, I’m pleased to share below a pictorial flowchart of sorts that illustrates the way things generally happen here at the Praxis Program during Fellows’ “office hours.”

First, one of the extremely knowledgeable members of the Praxis team teaches the newbies about something. Here, that something is wireframing.
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Next, Praxis Fellows try out their own ideas on the new concept, using each other as sounding boards. We achieve various degrees of success depending on a number of factors, including that day’s caffeine intake level.
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At some point, the knowledgeable Praxis team member usually has to avert some kind of impending crisis: “I’m going to make an intervention, because you need one.” But these interventions are always performed in a very kindly fashion. We appreciate them. (This photo actually captures two such interventions occurring simultaneously… wireframing and programming CAN happen in the same room!)
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Finally, the focus group (wireframers here again) agrees upon some kind of model to be used for sharing with the larger Praxis team at the weekly Tuesday afternoon meeting. We dissect, discuss, and suggest modifications as a group. Then it’s usually back to the Fellows Office for revisions and a repeat of the process.
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Disclaimer: the above images are drafts and first-round workings-out of wireframing problems. They are not necessarily representative of where we are now with our wireframing. I don’t think we’re giving away anything too top-secret, and since one of the goals of this program is to be “live and in public” I thought it was about time you got to see something we’ve actually drawn up ourselves.

As a final touch to this essay on the joys of group work, I’m appending, for your delectation, a sampling of overheard office hour chat:

–Discussing life’s most challenging questions, such as Why We’re Here:

Ed: I’m here to break your application with one capital letter. That’s why *I’m* here.
Wayne: You’re not gonna break MY application with one capital letter.
Ed: You just let me at your application…

–And another vignette from today featuring Ed:

Ed: YESSSSSSSSSSS!!
The rest of us: [quizzical looks]
Ed: I just got Heroku to work on my application. And even better, Wayne was wrong.
[laughter]
Ed: I’m gonna go tell him.

Til next time!

Sarah is a 2011-12 Praxis Fellow, former NINES Fellow, and a PhD candidate in the Department of English.

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