I applied (successfully) to a digital humanities programme some months ago entitled “Digital Literacy for Early Career Researchers” (hurray!). Last Monday I received the information regarding the first workshop, with the following programme:
09.00 coffee and registration
09.30-11.00 Session I: Coding and website construction
11.15-12.45 Session II: Content Management Systems
13.45-15.15 Session III: Analysing web design
15.30-17.00 Session IV: Digital collaboration beyond the university
Well, it could be worst.
I have a problem with Digital Humanities and this kind of courses. Yes, I’m interested in the digital humanities. I’m involved in several projects, actually (don’t forget Wax Eloquent, available next september for iOS and Android). So, no, I’m not a luddite. I agree: we need to think about and with the new technologies.
My problem is: why do they (people on the digital humanities workshops) insist on teaching us to code?
Before carrying on with the post: I know that coding is the future. I even coded in the past, webpages but also data bases, using an old and lost language called “Visual FoxPro” (don’t ask me about it… I was young and needed the money). I have Hopscoth and Daisy the Dinosaur in my iPad. I coded my hour with code.org (did you?) and I know that I will need to improve my code skills for the future, just to control my fridge in 2028 (maybe sooner).
But, is it coding the only skill we, humanists, need to improve in order to take part (or even lead) a digital humanities’ project? I don’t think so.
If we want to be part of the second wave of digital humanities, we will need other skills and abilities. We will probably be interested in how shall we estimate the value of an app for mobile devices. For example. Or how shall we write the storyboard for a videogame. Or how can we produce a video.
Yes, sure. It is great to code our own webpage. And even more, it is great to know the workflow. It will help you in the future to estimate more accurately how many time will take your project to finish. But shall it be the core of a course on digital humanities? I don’t think so.
In any case, I’m going through this course. And I’ll learn to code, if that is the point. But let me be optimistic: I’m eager to know what the “Session IV: Digital collaboration beyond the university” is about… I gotta feeling.
I’ll keep you updated.