This is one of my last weeks at CHI and its led me to think about all of the progress I’ve made this year learning to code. I’m not sure if my project will really highlight all that I know and have learned when I showcase it next week, but I really have made a ton of progress. If you begin the CHI fellowship with no knowledge of coding like I did, you might experience the journey in similar ways I did.

When I started CHI, we were all asked to work through a bunch of classes via Code Academy, where we learned the basics of html, css, and javascript. I remember being thrilled to figure out how to place a picture on a webpage using html, and changing font size and style with css. I took copious notes and felt like I had arrived!

In the first half of the semester, the CHI fellows were given group projects and tasks to learn how to work with mapping, data-visualization, and website-building. Again, I felt like I had a ton of tools to prepare myself, and I did! But what I’ve learned this semester is that trouble shooting is a much more complicated process.

When I started working with Twine, it felt like starting from scratch. Building a Twine story is a bit like working with an HTML and CSS page, except that Twine also has its own kind of language that is like html and css, but not quite. My first few weeks on my project was especially tough.

One Friday, it took me all six hours of our workday to figure out how to change a font from “futura” to “courier new.” SIX. HOURS. I was honestly so ashamed. We worked on an additional coding project that day where we could change the title to whatever we wanted, and I called mine “Adventures in Courier New” to celebrate my embarrassing victory of learning.

What I’ve learned throughout this process in CHI is that the individual making of a project is much more time-consuming than learning the basics within a pre-created template or program. My project may not look like much, but it is evidence of hours of toiling, googling, tutorial-viewing, self-deprecation, and multiple asks for help. Coding, like writing, is not an individual process, but a very social one, something that requires the support of many multiple people. I’ve come a long way since my Adventures in Courier New, but I have years to go before I feel like I truly know what I’m doing.