Prism is a tool for collective interpretation, an experiment in crowd-sourcing and visualizing many readings of a set of common texts. As part of our project to make crowd-sourcing more meaningful and less mechanical, users interact subjectively with a text, highlighting it in accordance with certain interpretive categories, such as sound, sense, and modernism, to produce an aggregate visualization of all other users’ markings that shows points of analytical agreement or disagreement.

The basic workflow is simple:

  1. Play in the sandbox on our introductory text to practice using the highlighting functionality.
  2. After creating an account, choose a text to highlight.
  3. The highlighting page automatically starts with the first category selected. Simply click and drag over the desired text to change its color. To switch categories, simple click on the desired category. Click on the eraser tool and then click and drag over text to undo any unwanted highlights.
  4. When done, click the submit button to see a visualization.
  5. To switch to the visualization for a different category, simply click on a different category.

Prism is an ideal tool for research and pedagogy alike; students can highlight a text and discuss their markings in class, and scholars can see how the world at large views these texts.