I resorted to GitHub many a time when I took a geography class and learned how to use some python modules to facilitate geospatial data processing. Great contents and programming resources organized and shared by some GitHub users impressed me. I, however, used GitHub the same way as I used Stack Overflow then: merely passively reading relevant contents and code written by others and never actively got involved in the system. Thanks to our first series of challenges at CHI, I have finally experienced GitHub’s version control system first-hand over the past two weeks.
The takeaway lesson I have learned from using GitHub is that practice brings familiarity and confidence. Admittedly, such a summary may be applicable to acquiring many other skills or handling many other different tasks. However, learning through intensive practice has not been part of my force of habit for a while. I have somehow found my production of the dissertation at this late stage of my graduate career quite analogous to slowdown of senior citizens’ metabolism. That said, concentration on writing qualitatively has left me oblivious to the feeling of rigorously acquiring new know-how, especially technological know-how. Last week, after hearing Brian’s introduction of GitHub’s version control ideas and watching some short YouTube videos on similar topics, I felt quite prepared to game. Unfortunately, my hollow, groundless preparedness immediately struck back. I figured out how to create repositories and branches, and how to used pull requests to merge my branch into the master branch. While experiencing some excitement of using GitHub to work on a group project, I encountered quite a few difficulties. For example, I already had a messy commit history that confused myself. Also, I encountered problems that I had minimum knowledge of how to resolve: conflicts upon merging. The many an unanticipated difficulty reminded me that I was far from being ready to game. In order to be able to better participate in GitHub-based group collaboration, I need to more regularly immerse myself in the GitHub environment to familiarize myself the GitHub flow and structures.
I also learned the same lesson when editing a HTML-based template from Bootstrap into webpages for our group project. Although having learned HTML coding on couples of different occasions, I found myself forgetful some syntax and grammars of the language. Bummer. Being embarrassed by my lack of solid command of the markup language, I considered that keeping practicing on the regular basis should be my approach to mastering computational skills systematically. The way I produce my dissertation- doing a lot of reading and waiting for manifestation of epiphanies- proves futile here.