[Humanist] 30.787 hands on

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Feb 28 07:12:31 CET 2017


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 787.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:15:57 -0500
        From: Henry Schaffer <hes at ncsu.edu>
        Subject: Re:  30.785 hands on
        In-Reply-To: <20170227061326.9C7018A78 at digitalhumanities.org>


I was going to respond with a claim that there is art and beauty in well
written computer code, but Bill Pascoe said it much better than I could
have. The problem with this area is that one has to be reasonably skilled
to be able to appreciate the beauty. As to Bill Pascoe's response:  +1

--henry schaffer

On Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 1:13 AM, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 785.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>         Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2017 07:41:45 +0000
>         From: Bill Pascoe <bill.pascoe at newcastle.edu.au>
>         Subject: Re:  30.781 hands on
>         In-Reply-To: <20170226063514.64EB68843 at digitalhumanities.org>
>
>
> Hi,
>
> Craftsmanship has long been an important part of writing code, and so
> implicit in digital humanities. It's been important not only as aesthetic
> appreciation but of great practical importance, and free of nostalgia for
> handicrafts. This craftsmanship goes by names such as 'well-structured
> code', 'coding best practices' etc. - anything relevant to what makes
> 'good' code as opposed to 'bad'. Not only does a developer appreciate the
> beauty of it when they see it but it has practical and economic benefits.
> There's commonplace ideals such as separation of form and content, of front
> and back end, the MVC pattern etc. Simply neatly laid out and well
> commented code saves time and money in the reading of it, and so it's
> modification etc. Code that is laid out in a structure that makes sense
> similarly is good craftsmanship and makes sense. The best code is so well
> designed, in terms of its architecture, its use of design patterns, and the
> sort of techniques that you learn as you progress from '
>  apprentice' to 'master', that changes and additions to it can take hours
> instead of weeks.
>
> There are so many ways in which code can be well written, where you can
> see the work of a skilled craftsman, that I can't list them here, but are
> easily found in internet searches. One example is the art of the one liner
> - a piece of code where someone has found an elegant and clever way of
> writing a single line of code that others might have written in convoluted
> loops and subroutines. While not a one liner I remember feeling a swell of
> pride when C# introduced reflection and I realised you could use a simple
> hash in lieu of a factory method - so simple, so ingenious, so beautiful.
> (Dare I mention Perl Poetry? http://www.perlmonks.org/?node_id=1111395 )
>
> Ways to instill this sense of craftsmanship might be simply by teaching
> what makes good code (eg: Google 'well-structured code'), designing
> demonstrations where good architecture makes code more flexible and
> repurposable, articulating all the benefits of code re-use etc, etc.
>
> In short I think the craftsmanship you seek for DH and the ways to
> highlight its importance and teach it are already there in coding
> practices. You just need to recognise it. This raises the question whether
> there are any differences to the craftsmanship of writing software in
> itself and in it's application to humanities. I think so.
>
> Kind regards,
>
> Dr Bill Pascoe
> eResearch Consultant
> Digital Humanities Lab
> hri.newcastle.edu.au http://hri.newcastle.edu.au/
> Centre for 21st Century Humanities<http://www.
> newcastle.edu.au/research-and-innovation/centre/centre-for-
> 21st-century-humanities/about-us>
>
> T: 0435 374 677
> E: bill.pascoe at newcastle.edu.au
>
> The University of Newcastle (UON)
> University Drive
> Callaghan NSW 2308
> Australia




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