This has been an eventful week in Praxis, since we both finished our charter and started trying to design Prism. The charter took longer than anticipated to produce, primarily because we had some difficulty figuring out when we needed to be incredibly specific and cover all possible scenarios, and when we needed to be very general and deal with problems in a case by case basis. For example, we eventually decided that we didn’t need to include a policy covering credit for departing members because we thought our general statement about credit would cover it. We also had a tough time deciding on the tone for the document; we didn’t want to sound paranoid about potential problems by assuming that we would have conflicts, but we also didn’t want to sound too naïve or optimistic and assume that it would all be smooth sailing. Eventually we decided on language that seemed suitably neutral. Additionally, we had tried to use language that covered all our job titles (graduate students, faculty, and staff) in an attempt to be as inclusive and respecting of difference as possible, but we decided that we wanted to emphasize our unity above all, since the charter applies to the whole team, so we made such to always say “all Praxis team members” instead. It was an excellent exercise in team building as well as project management.
Our attempts to start designing Prism have been both rewarding and frustrating for me. It’s rewarding because we have started discussing features and the philosophy behind the possible visualizations for Prism: today in our morning meeting we talked about how to visualize overlap, whether a user can mark a word with two colors, and whether the visualization should be tied to an image of the text, or whether it should be colored lines by themselves without the text. The frustration for me comes from my own negligible artistic skill; although I’m intimately involved in the other arts, I have never been adept at drawing. Consequently, I end up having to describe the image of the project I have in my mind with words instead of letting a pencil do the explaining. Now more than ever I am reminded of one of our charter’s goals: “We aim to recognize, respect, celebrate, and leverage the differences in our intellectual convictions, our academic backgrounds and experiences, and our talents and skills.”