Author: Melissa Maliniak

Update: I thought I knew more than I did

I did not expect this class to be this way at all. I’m not sure what I expecting, but it was not this. I had never done any sort of coding before or even understood the complex inner-workings of things as simple as a website. In my first blog post, I said that I thought I understood computers pretty well. I realize now how wrong I was.

I recognize that we are barely scratching the surface of computing and that amazes me. Personally, Markdown is very simple compared to HTML. I love having the knowledge to work in Markdown. I find it difficult to remember all of the specific codes for HTML, while Markdown seems to be much more introductory. I find it very similar to when I learned Spanish. Learning basic Spanish was pretty simple, but once I learned all the tenses and conditionals and when to use them is where I got lost. For me, Markdown is basic Spanish, while HTML is all the added parts.

Something I struggle with in this class is recording what I am learning. My computer works slowly with Virtual Box, so I cannot bounce between it and Atom to record exactly what we are doing when working in Virtual Box whether it regards Python or WordPress. Because the computer language is so precise, I forget the specifics when I try to document how we did what we did later. Recording in the moment causes me to fall behind the class and miss things. I am going to start taking photos of my screen using my phone or screen-capture to try to record what I am learning more efficiently.

I have learned a lot though in the class, but my lack of records makes it difficult to recreate. What I found most valuable from this class is using Virtual Box and Python. There are so many things that you can do in Virtual Box, Python, and even Jupyter. I think it is fascinating to analyze texts using these programs. There are so many things you can learn from language-processors and these programs that recognize patterns. I am excited to be in the Thoreau Data group, because I think we can learn so much more about Thoreau through this. I have previously taken the Thoreau Harding Project Class with Dr. Gillin and will be working on the cabin this summer as well. Being able to use this technology will definitely help me understand Thoreau more.

Another thing that this class will eventually help me with is computing for children when I am a teacher. There are children’s games and apps which incorporate coding and teach them HTML. Honestly, I bet if I downloaded the games it would help me in this class. Having even the basic HTML knowledge I have gotten can help me support my future students. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a future coding-genius in one of my classes!

On a Need-to-Know Basis

I have never been one to excel at technology. The first main piece of technology I ever “owned” was my brother’s Wii (we basically shared it but don’t tell him that). I knew how to turn it on and off, use it, and basic troubleshooting which describes the extent of most of my knowledge of technology that I own.
When we first began this class, I densely said that I was very knowledgable about technology. I now realize that I am only very knowledgable in comparison to those who have less knowledge than me (aka my parents and grandparents). My grandmother writes down questions about her iPad for me to answer when I see her. I can usually answer the questions within ten seconds. My parents are more technologically advanced but will still ask me questions that I can answer. I use my technology more than I am willing to admit on a day-to-day basis but after a few weeks of this class, I know that my knowledge of what I am using is minimal.
Technology has never interested me much. My brother, on the other hand, loves it. When he was in eleventh grade, he took apart his laptop and then put it back together. I, being a ninth grade brat, was not very interested or impressed. My brother now works for a branch of United Technology (Pratt & Whitney) and is working on plane engines.
The value that our society puts on technology is so incredibly high. Coming into this course, I already knew there is going to be a strong connection between technology and humanities, especially as continue to become more technologically-advanced. My brother was hired right out of college, given benefits, a signing bonus, a moving bonus, and a decently-impressive salary. I believe that in a world where technology is praised and used so often that we should have a better understanding of what it is and how it works. I am glad that this was the only class that fit in my schedule because I feel that I will benefit because of it.
Additionally, I am going to be entering the education field soon enough and having this knowledge of coding to pass on to my students would be incredible. There are children’s apps that are games where they can learn basic coding for fun. I want to be able to give them the opportunity to code and understand technology and I can’t do that unless I have at least a general understanding of what it is.
I love my computer. I would easily give up my phone for my laptop. I love how easy it is to use, how many things I can do on it, and the comfortability I have typing on it (thanks TypeToLearn). This summer, the week before I left to study abroad, it crashed and I had to take my mom’s laptop with me for the six weeks. It wasn’t the same. I habitually use my laptop and the day it crashes for good, I will probably be upset. I am not someone who gets attached to objects, but this laptop I use so often and for so much that I am attached to it. The more I think about technology, the more concerned I become because it is truly unknown what is to come with it.