About Coding

In my opinion, coding isn’t exactly something you can learn in a day or two, and studying it at a shallow level  isn’t really worth the effort, since a deep understanding of the topic, languages especially, is required to make good use of it. As such, and unless coding is an essential part of the work a student might be doing with the digital humanities, I believe coding is more of a supplementary part of the program, as helpful as it may be, since the main focus of DH is the humanities part of it. Donahue sums up my position pretty accurately in his introduction, believing”While programming will indeed usefully equip one better to understand computer scientific discourses, it should NOT be taken as the necessary precondition to engaging with the computer sciences”.

The programming aspect is, simply put, a distinct approach to the same concepts already being considered,  or in Donahue’s words;”the discourse of programming is only the technical jargon with which computer scientists address many of the very same questions that one encounters every day in the humanities.” The same way one does not necessarily need to learn Spanish in order to pursue a study of the history of Spain, programming isn’t critical to the understanding of Digital Humanities and its components. Interestingly enough, Kirschenbaum expresses a similar sentiment in his article when proposing the equivalencies of a computer language and a human(?) one, with a main point of his being: “these questions should be resolved on a case-by-case basis”, in reference to the question of the necessity of programming in a DH student’s career path.

As for my coding experience with Codecademy, it was fairly simple yet engaging. I was first introduced to coding here at Carleton, when taking Intro to CS and Data Structures this term, so I already had some knowledge of Java before beginning the online courses. Most of the coding follows a similar structure as other coding languages and is therefore interesting (if not a bit tedious) to find out the slight differences in formatting styles when it comes to coding languages compared to programming languages. Tying back to the argument of students needing to learn programming, my prior knowledge, while somewhat useful in understanding what was taught to us about HTML and CSS in class last week, probably also caused me some unnecessary confusion to the point where my background was no advantage compared to someone who knew no coding at all. Building from zero, in this case, could have been simpler, for some students, than attempting to modify what knowledge they already possessed to encompass the new language.

The setup of the courses is done so as to promote a continued investment in the class, so it isn’t exactly cumbersome. Furthermore one can complete the courses at their own pace, if you think you understand that portion of the course, you can skip directly to the instructions until you reach something new to you.
My Profile

Reverse Engineering “A Liberian Journey”

The project I chose to analyze is essentially a storytelling of Liberian history. “A Liberian Journey” is mainly the result of an expedition in 1926 financed by the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. as a means to understand the cultural and geographic makeup of the country they had been recently introduced to. The pictures and videos taken during the expedition are, to date, the oldest visuals of Liberia, which have been categorized by location and cultural significance. While the expedition was meant to be a scientific/business venture, the Harvard student managed to capture the country during a period of rapid change, unrivaled by any other speculation made in the present. The project also provides an interactive element in which its viewers can, and are encouraged to, expand on the project by sharing pictures, videos and stories about other periods of Liberian history, or provide a meaningful context to the media already posted on the site.

Home Page The layout of the website is fairly straightforward, with the homepage presenting an interactive map of the country, populated by the routes and destinations of the 1926 expedition. Each of the destinations (around 50 in total) brings up a link to its respective pictures and video, which capture a combination of the natives, nature and local villages.
The Exhibits tab contains, for the time being, a presentation on one of the Liberian leaders and her impact on the landscape of 1900s Liberia. The exhibition goes far more in depth than the content in the other sections, and is supported not only by the expedition’s experience with the Chief, but historical analysis of the time period as well. The Collections tab is an amalgamation of all the information relative to the time, separated by type, which includes pictures, films, documents, diaries and stories.

My House

I was somewhat concerned by the vagueness of Austin’s instructions at first when regarding this assignment, yet working through it one realizes the difficulty in finding a good stopping point, since there always seem to be more details missing. My memory not being the best didn’t help, but not beginning the basis of the house to-scale became an issue towards the end, where all my doors were different sizes, among other issues. I think the biggest problem was the lack of accuracy, detail-wise, as mentioned before.The colors and patterns of the walls especially never seemed to fit right, and made me question other choices in its makeup.
The house itself is built essentially as a mirror to its neighbour, attached to each other at one side, making it difficult to have ever gotten a wholesome view of it.

All in all, the assignment was pretty fun, and I believe it could be improved with some more dedication, some more skills with the program, and maybe a real image of the house to compare the model to.

How to Sketchup

All in all the sketchup intro we did in class was fairly straightforward, trying to listen to the instructions being given while performing them at the same time was a bit more challenging, since making a mistake would put you behind. The interfaces vary slightly between the Windows and OSX versions which might also present a problem. Otherwise SketchUp does a lot of the work for you, and is fairly easy to comprehend once you tinker with the many options at your disposal. I’d suggest beginning with a simple tutorial, but not following exactly along the lines, instead try to explore independently, as most of the content is easily accessible with a little effort.