Praxis Weekly Digest #2

This week, Praxis has made some very exciting progress.  Eliza, Scott, and Veronica continue to work on our WordPress Theme.  As Veronica mentioned in her post, “Foreign Languages and Ivanhoe Progress,” the challenge the Development team faces this week is figuring out how to create links between moves which respond to other moves.  For instance, if in the Suffragette Game, a telegram from Lord Asquith is found in Mary Leigh’s trunk, and “Mary Leigh” made this move in response to the newspaper article posted by “Anonymous Suffragette,” then we want those two moves to be linked together in the WordPress database.  Then, when a user views one of those moves on the front end, each move needs to display links to its associated move.  This system of networking moves is a central feature of our Ivanhoe, so Development’s successful execution of this complex task will be a major breakthrough in the programming of the Ivanhoe Theme overall.  Take a look at an extract of the Suffragette Game on our mockups, hosted by GitHub, to see examples of this network.

Our Design team, Francesca and Zach, will be working on the logo and overall aesthetic for our Ivanhoe informational website, which will eventually extend to the Theme itself.  We chose to construct Ivanhoe as a WordPress Theme so that we would be able to control the look of the game, and now our designers are working to decide what that look should be.  What should the colors, fonts, and graphics of the website communicate about our interpretation of the Ivanhoe Game?  Jeremy met with Francesca, Zach, and me this week to instruct us in tackling this step.  He stressed the fact that each design choice should have special significance to Ivanhoe—meaning, we can’t just choose a font or color because we like it.  With Jeremy’s help, Design began making progress in brainstorming a logo.  They want to incorporate the Prism colors and aesthetic to stress the continuity between the projects, while adapting Prism’s design in such a way as to emphasize Ivanhoe’s focus on interactive play.  The thought is yet in its nascent stages, but it compelled me to visit some of the design blogs from previous Praxis cohorts, and a quote from designer Chris Peck struck me as useful as we begin to consider Ivanhoe with respect to Prism:

There’s something very compelling about refraction as a metaphor for collective interpretation of text. The crowd is a prism that reveals facets of the text, and the text is a prism that reveals facets of the crowd. The rainbow splayed across the text is an apt image for Prism’s aspirations for bringing text to life through accumulated interpretations. (“Prism on Spring Break”)

Chris wrote this while playing with the idea of displaying multiple colors of highlighting across text; he eventually changed this to showing only one at a time.  Still, his comments show his design ideas to be metaphors for how he viewed Prism theoretically, and this thought process is one which I think we should try and emulate in moving forward on Ivanhoe design.

On the Project Management front, I continue to meet with the separate teams, see how they’re doing, take pictures, and publicize.  In this vein, I would like to introduce the #Ivanhoe hashtag, because Ivanhoe is a phenomenon unto itself… can become a whole new movement in critical thought… and is being revitalized for pedagogical and scholarly use as we speak!  What better reasons to create a hashtag?  Look for it in tweets from @PraxisProgram and @scholarslab.

I would also like to announce a talk which Praxis will be giving on Prism and Ivanhoe.  Members of both this and last year’s cohorts will be speaking on the use of their projects for textual interpretation at the UVa Graduate English Conference, “Reading Then and Now,” to be hosted in Charlottesville on the UVa campus the weekend of April 4-6; our panel will be that Friday.  I will announce this again with further details when the conference schedule is established, but if you’re planning to be in Charlottesville that weekend, mark your calendars.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on Prism and Ivanhoe.

This past May, 2014, I completed my M.A. in English at the University of Virginia. As a graduate student I focused on American literature, textual studies, and learning as much about digital humanities as possible. I served as project manager for the 2013-14 Praxis cohort, rebuilding the Ivanhoe Game. I now work at Rare Book School and the Washington Papers doing bibliographical research and social media. In my spare time I enjoy jamming on my violin, researching family history, and having movie nights with friends. I love ballroom dance, can't get enough opera, and enjoy making gourmet pizza at home.

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