The cyberpunk worlds of William Gibson have never seemed so far away as when I was staring at my computer screen trying to figure out how to use Github in conjunction with a free Bootstrap template. All the sci-fi romance of cyberspace shriveled into a dry husk as I watched introductory how-to videos on YouTube to learn how to use Github to access and rewrite the template’s HTML code. As I watched these videos, I knew that I was missing something important, something that wasn’t being explicitly stated. After bumbling around and downloading Github Desktop and the text editing software, Atom, I made another attempt to modify the template’s code. And failed. I wanted to smash the computer, but then it all turned out ok.
Working on the introductory team project this semester has been a great learning experience and has reinforced how important collaboration can be for learning new skills and using digital tools. As it turned out, each member of my team had figured out a different piece of how to make our Github pages website work. When we came together after agreeing to self-educate with online resources, all of the mysteries of how to interact with the online tools, text editors, and files were solved. Figuring out how to open the door, so to speak, was the hardest part and the collaborative troubleshooting was paramount to our eventual success in learning the basics of maneuvering in a new technical space.
This initial engagement with digital tools has allowed me to start to think realistically and strategically about what I would like to do with my own project. It has been difficult to imagine a well-scoped project without having directly interacted with the technology through which it will be produced. My research interests lie in interactions between people with chronic diseases and their everyday digital health technologies, and the ways that each inform the other. As the digital has everted into daily life, as Steven Jones asserts, it is challenging to identify what might be both useful in the context digital health humanities and attainable considering my inexperience in digital making.
Jones, S. E. (2014). The emergence of the digital humanities. Routledge.