Posted by Roger Whitson on December 7th, 2011
At the Digital Scholarship Commons (DiSC), I’ve made one of my goals learning some basic programming. While I don’t think that every humanist needs to be a hardcore computer developer, I argue that humanists should at least have a basic knowledge of coding. In this new series, I will chronicle my own process of learning how to code with Python.
Why? In the post that follows, I will sketch out a case for 1) why humanists should learn to code; 2) why Python is a great language for beginning humanists; and 3) what are some great resources for learning Python.
Why should humanists code?
I get this question all of the time from my colleagues who are busy teaching and reserching and don’t really understand why they should devote the time to learning how to code. Let’s set aside the great arguments by Stephen Ramsay and others about the centrality to coding for the digital humanities. What can humanities scholars who do not actively practice digital scholarship learn from coding?
Learn to Talk to Programmers: As digital scholarship becomes more prominent on University campuses, it will become more important for scholars to be able to discuss their work with programmers and developers. Knowing the basics of a computer language can help you communicate your ideas.
So, why should humanists learn to code? To better understand a world that is mediated by digital technology.
Python has a learning curve. You can’t learn Python instantaneously. Be patient, work incrementally, and realize that it takes time to read and write Python.
Important Resources for Python: Okay. Let’s say, I’ve convinced you to start learning Python. What are some resources to get started? I’ll cover how to read, install, and begin programming with Python in a later blog post, but I want to go over some great resources for you to look over in the meantime.
That’s it! I hope you enjoyed my first post on Python. For my next post, we’ll be looking at some projects that used Python and learning the basics of Python syntax in order to read their code.
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