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Editors’ Choice: The Call to Coding Round-Up

By Michael Widner, Lee Ann Ghajar, and Sarah Ruth Jacobs | February 17, 2012

Michael Widner, Learn to Code; Learn Code Culture, February 16, 2012

  • Along with the explicit philosophical and cultural aspects of coding—e.g., open source, geek culture, hacking, hacktivism, black hat vs. white hat, etc.—code itself is a form of writing with a dual audience: machines and other coders (including one’s future self). Others may want to read and modify that code in the future. Such a task becomes far more difficult when the code does not show an awareness of the culture. But beyond simply the practical issue of code maintenance, if you skip the culture, you’re missing out on half the fun. Code culture has a long history of humor, stylistic and methodological debates, and cult-like devotion to a particular tool/language/platform/idea. One cultural touchstone of coding is a knowledge of the three virtues of programmers: laziness, impatience, and hubris. Without developing this trio of qualities, you will never be a Real Programmer. Read Full Post Here

Lee Ann Ghajar, I code, you code, we code…Why Code?, February 16, 2012

  • I’d argue that pushing humanists to learn to code for the sake of coding equates with learning how to use a tool without understanding where, when, and why it’s useful. And that the Pavlovian response methodologies of projects such as CodeAcademy have a instructional niche, but they misrepresent the process of becoming a coder, the complexities of speaking languages that give us narratives of infrastructure, relationships, and information retrieval. As decontextualized rote response mechanisms, they are retrograde pedagogical steps in an era when critical thinking ought to be a hallmark of educational effectiveness. Read Full Post Here

Sarah Ruth Jacobs, Academic Call to Code and the Networked Self, February 6, 2012

  • Davidson and Leavitt’s calls to code, both of which espouse a leftist politics of democratic or Do It Yourself coding, make me reflect on the different values that are currently competing in the software programming and academic spheres; proprietary models v. open access/open source models. In particular, the academic debate about open access to academic knowledge recently reared its head in Congress, when in December of 2011 the Research Works Act, an act that would block mandates of public access to federally-funded research, was introduced to the House of Representatives. This act is likely a response to recent moves on the part of the Obama administration toward better access to scientific publications (see the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 and the subsequent Request for Information on Public Access to Digital Data and Scientific Publications). While the Research Works Act will probably not pass, it speaks to the conflict inside and outside academia between privileging information and disseminating information, between profit and public interest. Read Full Post Here