How I Learned To Like A Computer Class

I remember the first computer class that I took my freshman year of high school. It had a unique name that I can’t recall because it didn’t solely involve computers, but physics, woodworking and welding. It was a required course, like home economics, intended to teach us valuable life skills. I was, for the first time in my school career, completely out of my element. I got by alright with the building, primarily due to my childhood experiences following Lego direction booklets (if you’ve ever attempted to follow a Lego build, you know that can be much harder than it looks). When it came to the computers though, I was completely and utterly lost. It was like attempting to read a language where you can’t even recognize the letters. As I recall, I got by because of my best friend at the time, who is, appropriately, now going to school for mechanical engineering. When the year was over, I vowed never to take a computer-related class ever again.

Yet here I am in Literature Study in the Digital Age, learning how to use the terminal, write commands, understand markup and XML/TEI. Like the class’s name says, we’re in a digital age and it’s valuable to know computers. So I’m trying to learn.

One part of the class that I’ve really enjoyed so far is learning about the history of computers and literature. Broad Band in particular is a fascinating read because it shows the extent to which women were involved in the history of the computer and were the earliest users. I think reading it actually helped me become more confident in my ability to navigate the class. This actually connects to the Social Psychology class that I’m taking as we’re learning about the ways in which stereotypes create self-fulfilling prophecies, where people start to believe and act out the stereotypes that others put on us. There is a stereotype that women aren’t good with computers and that computer science is a men’s field. However, Broad Band directly contradicts that idea which I think has made me feel better about my abilities in this class.

I’ve also enjoyed learning about all the hidden features in my computer that I didn’t know existed, such as the terminal. For example, I had no idea that you could create and organize files using the command line. Additionally, the fact that plain-text files are almost endlessly transferable across computer systems is very cool and it’s changed my perspective on specific word processing systems and companies such as Apple or Microsoft. It’s opened my eyes and made me more curious about the limits imposed by some tech companies.

To wrap this up, I no longer hold a grudge against computer-focused classes (though I still despise Lego directions) and I think I’ve learned a lot of valuable tools and knowledge in this class so far. I’m excited to see what the next part of the semester brings.