Coming back to CHI, I realize how enjoyable the fellowship is, especially as a space where we break and un-break things together. During my first time as a CHI fellow, I was especially afraid of breaking things. This time around, I am enjoying breaking things and un-breaking them with my peers. As part of our GitHub challenge this past week, we as a team are building a website for a hypothetical Bison tracking app in the Wanuskewin Park.
Using GitHub again was an exercise in memory as much as learning things anew. How do pages update? How and when do they become visible? When should I merge branches? These were all questions we encountered in the first five minutes. Once we had those solved, we got down to actually writing/editing some html code which is one of most exciting and sometimes frustrating activities for me. I love it because writing html feels logical to me. I appreciate being able to go line by line, item by item, and writing in properties etc. But it is also frustrating because sometimes the smallest oversights can make a page look so wrong. And as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I just start from scratch instead of editing an old code. After a point it is easier to have a clean slate than go back to each line, especially when the code is super long and complicated like my first project website was. Writing html always makes me think of the transformation of code into the visual vocabulary of a website. Thus, writing each line is as much about the overall aesthetic of the website as it is about the individual element—for me it involves thinking visually and in syntax simultaneously. The transformation of code syntax to visual vocabulary is truly amazing. Yet, like most amazing things, it is a lot of mundane line by line consistencies and clarity. As I think about a pedagogical project, one of the things I would like to emphasize is the ways in which digital humanities are about creativity and nimble thinking. It is not about always writing code ground up but being able to see the bigger picture. In pedagogy this would mean concentrating on skills and concepts, because the means to get to an end goal exist aplenty, even if only as starting points.
Full disclosure: I am still having issues with the page I am making for the project, but I am hoping to solve it this week.