Digital Humanities Workshop
Many people have difficulty learning programming because courses, textbooks, and tutorials are often written with the assumption of a math or computer science background. They use mathematical equations and formulas as a universal language to teach you how use and build elements within the programming language. However, if math is the gatekeeper to programming, then learning programming can be a daunting task.
The Racket programming language was largely developed to make programming more accessible to diverse audiences. It’s introductory tutorial eschews the math as gatekeeper pattern by drawing on an entirely different universal language, pictures, to represent the same programming functions. Instead of adding and multiplying numbers, the tutorial teaches you how to combine simple geometric forms. By the end of the tutorial you have a gallery of pictures you’ve cobbled together. The end deliverable, while interesting, is not terribly useful on its own.
Building on this foundation, we have developed a workshop to teach basic programming skills to humanities students with an end deliverable which can be immediately applied to their daily lives. Using the Racket programming language, the user-friendly text editor DrRacket, and the markup language Scribble, participants will learn how to write an academic paper from start to finish which can then be exported to html and pdf. In addition to easy export to multiple formats, Scribble also allows you to write more complex functions directly into your document. This can range from auto-formatting an image list, to looping through a text to calculate word frequency or word groupings.
This workshop utilizes all free-software technology, and will urge participants to release whatever code they create back into the community. Academics are constantly presented with new tools to facilitate digital humanities projects, many of which are locked down and proprietary. But, an underlying understanding of programming allows us to build our own tools, modify the available tools to our specific needs, understand how to go beyond what everyone else who has access to these tools can do, and return these contributions back to the wider academic community.
We believe that programming should be accessible to everyone. While our workshop is immediately applicable towards a humanities audience, the structure can be applied more broadly.
Boston, Massachusetts 02110