This post is a couple weeks late, but I would still like to share a few thoughts on the process of drawing up our 2013-14 Praxis charter. Though we had the eloquent and insightful charters of the previous two cohorts as models, the Scholars’ Lab faculty encouraged us to think about what_ our_ goals, principles, and priorities were and how we could best articulate them. Reflecting on what we wanted to accomplish this year – ‘accomplish’ being itself a difficult term to define – was more challenging than anticipated, but the result is a charter which – in my opinion – lays out a path for all of us to learn, play, think, and work together amicably and productively.
Stephanie has already discussed some of the specific aspects of our charter, but there are a couple which I would like to elaborate on further. Therefore, I’ll throw in my two cents on our goals as we did and why ‘flexibility’ is one of our core values.
We organized our goals by what we all wanted to get out of our year as Praxers – a solid grounding in DH, an interesting tool for our scholarship, and an improved handle on how to harness the power of our social networks. Personally, what DH is, how it works, and its role in the humanities and social sciences as a whole are my primary questions. Specifically, one of the things which interests me is the role of databases as tools for building knowledge and not just as repositories of ‘preformed’ knowledge. By learning what computers can actually do – and how their capabilities have been applied within the humanities and social sciences – I hope to get a better grasp on what I can do with data in my own field.
And that would have been the end of my charter. Fortunately, however, I am working with a dynamic cohort of Praxers and Scholars’ Lab faculty, and so the whole ‘outreach’ thing is laid out as a top priority, too. To be clear, I believe in working collaboratively, in public, and getting feedback throughout the process. However, I’m terrified of social media and my own insecurities have driven me to a back-seat position on the web, watching the fantastic on-going work of other people and then scurrying back to my private little hole (in the basement, no less) to obsess about my own research until it is perfect (or, more likely, I get completely stuck). Now, talking in person about my ideas and research is easy – I know my audience and there is no permanent record of the ridiculous things I say. Putting ideas out on the internet and accepting that they will never really go away completely…well, that’s scary. Hence this blog post is three weeks late.
Finally, a quick note on our core value of ‘flexibility.’ It is worth noting that we came to this concept through various routes – we wanted a ‘flexible’ and multidisciplinary tool, we wanted to be ‘flexible’ with one another, we wanted to be ‘flexible’ with our definition of the Ivanhoe Game and how we would approach building it. I think this ethos really is fundamental to our group-definition, and I hope it is reflected in our work throughout the year.