[Humanist] 23.107 programming: the fear of it

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Jun 26 07:14:39 CEST 2009


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 107.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>                      (22)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.106 programming: the fear of it

  [2]   From:    Martin Holmes <mholmes at uvic.ca>                           (16)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.106 programming: the fear of it

  [3]   From:    Alan Corre <corre at uwm.edu>                                (26)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.103 programming: the fear of it


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 10:38:17 -0400
        From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.106 programming: the fear of it
        In-Reply-To: <20090625053649.B4E1D22019 at woodward.joyent.us>

Yes, Mark's point is a very good one.  Even students of poetry aren't
necessarily able to write good poetry, but it does indeed help to try.
 I think most students of literature would be better students of
literature if they had four years of calculus simply for the mental
discipline that study imposes.

That being said, I had fun with geometry and trig, hated Algebra, and
was grateful to get out of calculus when I finally did.

I'd like to emphasize that I don't think programming is an
-inherently- boring activity, just an activity that is boring -to me-
(at least on the low level I've attempted it).  My main response was
to the assumption that those who dislike programming or seek to avoid
it are motivated by fear.  I would say that when fear really is
present, it's probably fear of a lack of mathematical competence
proceeding largely from lack of recent practice.

Jim R


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 07:58:22 -0700
        From: Martin Holmes <mholmes at uvic.ca>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.106 programming: the fear of it
        In-Reply-To: <20090625053649.B4E1D22019 at woodward.joyent.us>

I'd just like to pick up one of Mark Wolff's comments:

> An interesting poem resists  
> easy interpretation

Poems that "resist" interpretation are not the better for it, surely? I 
usually think of poetry that is "hard" as flawed in that particular 
respect, although it may be rich in other aspects and reward the work 
put into reading it. The best poetry is surely both accessible and rich.

Cheers,
Martin

-- 
Martin Holmes
University of Victoria Humanities Computing and Media Centre
(mholmes at uvic.ca)
Half-Baked Software, Inc.
(mholmes at halfbakedsoftware.com)
martin at mholmes.com



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 13:44:12 -0500
        From: Alan Corre <corre at uwm.edu>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.103 programming: the fear of it
        In-Reply-To: <20090625053649.B4E1D22019 at woodward.joyent.us>

I do not care for crossword puzzles, but I enjoy programming because 
apart from solving a problem you are left with a usable product. I also 
feel it encouraged me to think more logically, but I cannot prove that. 
I suspect however that the bulk of humanity does not, and will not ever, 
care for programming. I think two languages indicate this. COBOL was 
designed as a business language in which the boss could look at the 
program, and figure out what the programmer was up to. It did not work 
out that way. Programmers started abbreviating the commands in such a 
way that COBOL became full of gobbledygook just like other languages. I 
suspect too that the bosses were only interested in the end product 
anyway. Another example was Bill Atkinson's Hypercard for the Apple 
Computer, which has been described as "a software erector set." In 1990 
I wrote a book of original Jewish children's stories with this medium 
which showed a book on the screen, and the child could turn the pages. I 
got a student to draw sets of pictures as illustrations, which I 
displayed in quick succession so that they were animated. It was 
published, and sold quite well. Black and white only in those days. But 
Apple stopped supporting Hypercard years ago.

But this is just an introduction to a plug for my forthcoming (free!) 
e-book on Icon Programming for Humanists. In spite of it all, I am still 
an optimist. Stay tuned.

Alan D. Corre
Emeritus Professor of Hebrew Studies
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
corre at uwm.edu
http://www.uwm.edu/~corre/





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