Rather than being as fresh as a daisy from DHSI, I am brain overloaded and jetlagged. But that doesn’t stop me. I’m stepping up to my next challenge.
At a Decoding Digital Humanities meetup last year we were discussing a paper by Michael Mateas’ ‘Procedural Literacy – Educating the New Media Practitioner’ which suggests that procedural literacy is necessary for DH and new media researchers, because without understanding the back end of the programme, researchers will never be able to think critically about digital projects. Ever since then I have continuously been asking myself the question;
Do you need to be procedural literate to be a great digital humanist?
I thought I was doing ok, with my humanities background, love of digital things, and enthusiasm. But I have always been aware that I can’t code, I don’t know how to make interesting tools and applications, and the thought of exposing myself to numerous letters (C++, PHP), acronyms (XML, XSLT, HTML) and snakes (Python) left me in a muddle.
One of the elements arising for the DDH discussion was can you ever be procedural literate if you don’t have any training in computer science? Well, for the whole of this week I will be attempting to find out. I will be taking a week long intensive course in Programming with PHP. By the end of the week we will see if I have the brain capacity to be procedurally literate and whether or not it has enhanced my critical thinking about digital humanities. Or as Mateas’ puts it, will I be illiterate, fundamentally unable to grapple with the essence of computational media and therefore not reach my potential as a digital humanist?
Or does it not matter? Can I be illiterate and still achieve? We shall see.