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.
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