Rebecca Sutton Koeser bio photo

Rebecca Sutton Koeser

Lead Developer, The Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton University

Twitter LinkedIn Github ORCID iD Keybase Humanities Commons

Sometime towards the end of the process of revising the project charter for the Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton Research Partnership with Marina Rustow on her Princeton Geniza Project, a few lines from Wallace Steven’s “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” came to mind, but with a roadmap in place of a blackbird. The roadmap may have been on my mind since I had already revised this one multiple times; my first attempt was far too optimistic (see stanza VIII). I originally posted this on twitter to celebrate the charter being signed. It is dedicated it to my colleagues and collaborators.


Among twenty moving deadlines,
The only moving thing
Was the cursor in the Google Doc.


I was of three minds,
Like a map
In which there are three parallel roads.


The deliverable whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the roadmap.


A developer and a designer
Are one team.
A developer and a designer and a scholar
Are one team.


I do not know which to prefer,
The pleasure of a well-made plan
Or the delight of completed work,
The road stretching ahead
Or arrival.


Suggestions filled the long document
With fierce colors.
The shadow of the cursor
Crossed it, to and fro.
The revision
Traced in the document
An indistinct idea.


O clever scholars of Princeton,
Why do you imagine golden prototypes?
Do you not see how the possibilities
whirl about the minds
Of the collaborators around you?


I know optimistic dreams
And lucid, impossible roadmaps;
But I know, too,
That the pessimist must caution
In what I plan.


When the road stretched out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many meetings.


At the sight of diagrams
Flowing on a lit screen,
Even the students of the indecipherable
Would cry out joyfully.


She reviewed the document
in the browser.
Once, a fear pierced her,
In that she mistook
The wisp of a resolved comment
For an error.


The clock is ticking.
The plans must be winging.


It was waiting all afternoon.
It was reviewed
And it was going to be reviewed again.
The roadmap held
In the charter.