Are We All Coders?

The topic of debate in Digital Humanities classes across the country is whether or not those studying the humanities ought to have experience and knowledge coding? (at least I think it is… I have a small study sample) There are both positives and negatives to a major requirement including coding experience. Within an open and progress-driven discussion, a leading takeaway in this debate ought to be:

“The focus of our work, however, is on an equally fundamental but domain-dependent dimension of the structure of text: content

Donahue, Evan. “A “Hello World” Apart (why humanities students should NOT learn to program).” HASTAC, 28 May 2010, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022

I have fallen on both sides of the line and for this article I found myself leaning towards the perspective that coding is not something of importance to humanities majors. Coding, being considered an implementation of a program through a coding language, is a primary task of a developer or designer in the many many sections of the computer sciences. As such, many hours of frustrated debugging and scanning through cryptic documentation are put into developing this skill and making it useful. Minimal understanding of it can be useful in understanding the introductory processes of coding, but only after two years of studying Computer Science did I find that coding had a very limited scope without the other larger concepts of computer science and computational thinking. Leaving coding to those who invest into coding as their passion and leaving the domain of thought to the humanists and clients will improve the innovations and capabilities of project. In order to improve collaborations between the client and a coding professional, both an understanding of computational theory and of domain-specific study are required between both parties.

A valuable meaning through which one might learn coding is coding tutorials. I have had many of them through CS courses; at job experiences; and when trying to learn how to do something for my own personal projects. Yet when given a tutorial on for a digital humanities class, I was surprised to see that my expertise was limited to the intermediate level of HTML/JS/CSS. I learned a lot from these tutorials at every level(Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced), but my favorite is a Javascript capability called AJAX that allows developers to render pages and information asynchronously instead of reloading an entire page. A simple implementation is below

var req = new XMLHttpRequest();
req.onload = function (event) { . . . };'get', 'some-file.txt', true);

I won’t spend time explaining what this is doing, but I have found use of this capability for a project that I am creating. I would like to create a container of tab and corresponding content and plan to use AJAX to load in things like a calendar, an information tab, or other useful content. Point being, this tutorial was very helpful in the implementation of a project for a client with a vision, but there is little to no need for a client to know how to create a tabs container, instead their knowledge of the calendar events and the information going on the info tab is much more useful and disperses the work necessary across both the client and developer.

Spooky Nuggets

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.