I was pleasantly relieved after reading the introduction for this textbook to learn about the unique approach to coding, or what the author Nick Montfort refers to as the “creative potential of computer computation” I’m genuinely interested in how we’ll explore computation as part of our culture and possibly get a chance to reflect that in our semester projects. I was also glad to learn that this text was produced with students in mind and not for individuals who might already have some prior coding experience. Although I have attempted to learn coding in the past I’m grateful for the refresher and would like to take baby steps back into this realm. I’m also very intrigued by the authors claim to lay a different foundation for beginners that focuses on a more “Artistic and humanistic inquiry” which really calls my attention as a creative person who likes to build and tear things apart to better understand how they work. Overall I think the introduction did a nice job of conveying Montfort’s approach and soothing my own fears about revisiting coding.
Why I’m learning:
My history with CompSci and programming has honestly been a rocky one. As a Comm. and digital studies major I’ve attempted twice to take some variation of an intro course for computer science and haven’t had much success. I’ve always been interested in the process but find that the classes I’ve taken move too fast for me even at the beginner level. I think my biggest problem is that I get easily overwhelmed by how complex some of the languages like Python can be and like the quote from the introduction stated “Unless you can think about the way computers solve problems, you can’t even know how to ask the questions that need to be answered.” This pretty much sums up my biggest dilemma; I’m much more of a hands on tactile learner and with coding I have a hard time wrapping my mind around how it all comes together on the screen. On the other hand I have no problem fiddling away with HTML or CSS. I’ve spent pretty much all of my adolescence up until now toying with building and designing webpages so it has always been a source of frustration for me that coding has been so difficult to learn. I’m optimistic about this new approach though, which like the author mentioned I had never considered before as an area where both the computing and arts/ humanities could be blended. Thinking about it again after reading the introduction, it sounds like the type of approach that would best benefit someone like myself who would like to learn the basics so that I could enhance other projects and avoid the stress I’ve felt in the past about having to undertake an entirely new language. The way the author talks about his guided approach was very reassuring and reminded me of the saying “a mile wide and an inch deep” since we’ll be covering a few languages and techniques.
One of my goals, and probably the most important one, is to stay on top of all the readings for this book. Now that I have a copy I plan on catching up and staying ahead of the readings so that I have enough time to digest the material. I’m usually a fast reader, but I know there will be parts in this textbook that I might have to read several times before I feel like I’ve fully grasped the concept. I will own that time management has always been a slight struggle for me and since this will be my third time approaching programming, albeit from a new angle, I’d really like to not hinder myself by falling behind and playing catch-up this semester. Another goal of mine would be to create something worthwhile using the tools in this book. I’m excited about the artistic element to this upcoming project and I’d really like to come up with something unique that reflects both what we’ve learned in class and tests my imagination.