Yesterday morning, I arrived at the Lab early, grabbed a cup of coffee, and began to work on a series of slides for an upcoming data management for humanities and social science graduate students workshop. As I worked, the Lab slowly, then more quickly, filled with my incredible colleagues, students, and one very adorable baby. Over the course of the day, there was an ebb and flow of questions, answers, experiments, consultations, and a few random cat gifs.
Today, the official Day of DH mirrored the feel, if not the same events, of yesterday. I realize this post is in danger of sounding overly-sentimental (and extremely privileged), but I have been thinking a great deal about Miriam Posner’s excellent Commit to DH People, not Projects post, particularly as the Praxis team readies for the Ivanhoe launch. So, I thought I would contribute a few of today’s observed moments of the Scholars’ Lab cultivating people.
We are very fortunate to have Spandana Bhowmik visiting the Lab from Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Spandana opened the morning with a presentation of her work. As she walked us through her project, several good questions were raised despite the fact none of us were very familiar with the texts she studies. Engaged listening is something I have noticed in my short four months in the Lab.
In the afternoon, the Praxis team gathered as they ready for the launch of Ivanhoe. In the midst of talking out strategies to support the launch, the possibility of Ivanhoe crashing after 3 minutes was raised. Immediately, the response: “Maybe, but what a glorious 3 minutes it will be.” A casual moment reflecting failure was possible, but the discussion then turned to what must be done to release the best working game we could—something Miriam points to in her post, sometimes failure is good, but steps can be taken to protect against failure. I am consistently impressed with how the R&D team set our fellows up to succeed, to gain confidence, and to laugh at and then understand the broken bits. The flip side of this is I am also impressed with how hard our fellows work.
All of this is not to sidestep the important discussions around the implicit dangers of the imperative to “do what you love;” this post is not really about doing what one loves, but more about seeking out people who are committed to cultivating environments of experimental play, collaborative learning, and fellowship.