Understanding Computers: From Mystical to Manageable

Before Starting this Class

I was markedly ‘anti-computer’ in my scholarship before. I would pay more for a physical copy of a book instead of a computer copy, I would take all of my notes by hand, and I would write out essays in a notebook before typing them up. I really thought that it was better – for learning, and also just personal preference. I was really comfortable in the aspect of my identity that said “I’m not good with computers.” And this wasn’t really for lack of trying – I tried to be tech-savvy and to be ‘modern’ in my use of technology, and it just didn’t really work for me – I always got tripped up and frustrated and would return to my comfort zone of paper and pen.

The Process

However, just through the first few weeks of this class, I have gained so much comfortability in using a computer in different ways than I ever had before. If you had told me last fall that I could use code to make my computer do things for me, I would not have believed you, and probably would have laughed. Even just understanding the file system of a computer was a huge step for me, let alone navigating it through GitBash. I was so surprised when my script to open up, name, and edit a markdown journal file actually worked – it just never seemed like something I’d be able to do. I think a lot of this had to do with how it was framed – I had always considered computers to be something like magic – something that is to be used as much as you can, but outside of my capacity for understanding. Understanding how computing in the modern sense came to be really helped, and so did a systematic breakdown and intuitive flow through information. This all made it seem possible to undersand, and much less mysterious and magical.

The Results

This increase in knowledge and skill in regards to computers has really changed the way I am living my day-to-day life. I had always used a bound paper planner – on that I used a ruler to draw, since no planners I could find worked for how I was using it. This took so much time and effort – and this isn’t to bash paper planners, because I still use it some and I still really love the process that went into it – but it was restrictive because of the time it took. Since starting this class, I have been really able and willing to transfer my planner organization onto a notion page and use it to keep track of deadlines and tasks and events, and it’s so much quicker and easier than copying things over by hand. I have also started – not only in this class, where it’s an assignment – to take notes on my laptop and actually be able to focus while doing so. I don’t lament having to read or write on my computer anymore – and I think that’s just a byproduct of actually understanding what’s happening when I’m using it.