To code or not code?: That is the question

We should consider ourselves architects of spaces and places, and authors and guides for interactors navigating through these often networked, socially mediated spaces (Carroll 31).

We have been discussing all semester the mediated, interactive, networked, multimodal nature of new media composing. However, it is often easy to forget about some crucial aspects of how digital (new media) texts are actually composed, what kind of “behind-the-scenes” stuff needs to happen for us, as “architects of spaces and places” in the digital world actually can build things.

A number of our readings have mentioned the importance of having a working knowledge of coding (as well as the workings of the web more generally), what it is as well as the basics of how to actually do it. Consider the following few excerpts:

  • “He [Marc Prensky] further explained that the next language to be mastered is the language of programming” (Cohen & Kenny 6).
  • “We think the savvy user should have a working knowledge of how the web works and why. Understand the basic functions of the systems of participation will help you to speak the language and create on a higher cognitive level, enabling you to become a leader in the digital environment and make higher-quality work” (Cohen & Kenny 49).
  • “Although many web writers and editors aren’t asked to build websites from scratch, they should be aware of how web-authoring code works and how it makes digital content manifest in a browser window (Carroll 45).
  • “Web writers and editors do not necessarily need to become proficient in these web programming languages, nor do they necessarily need to know how to develop an app. But it certainly helps to be able to hand-code pages and to understand the capacities and limitations of these coding languages” (Carroll 45).

So, the major debate at stake here is: “to code or not code?” Some thoughts, to get the conversation rolling:

  • What, if any, is your knowledge of coding?
  • Do you have any experience coding? What are you feelings towards coding? (fear, annoyance, empowerment, etc.)
  • Do new media writers need to know how to code?
  • How has the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) nature of much of today’s digital platforms changing the need for (and our knowledge of) coding? Is coding necessary?
  • Do you feel that coding should be an integral part of the work you do as a student in the PTW major, and beyond in your career?
  • How/why is (or could) coding be useful in your professional life? What is to be gained by coding? (is anything lost by it?)

(friendly reminder: don’t forget to check out the purpose / expectations for this, and other Class Discussions, before you get started here)

9 thoughts on “To code or not code?: That is the question

  1. The only knowledge of coding I have is the basic HTML code I used back when Myspace was popular. I also did a research project with professor Lansiquot which helped me realize how important coding. However, I am apprehensive in learning code due to the fact of how hard it seems to understand.

  2. I have no working knowledge of coding, I am 100% unfamiliar with coding. I’d say that many new media writers as well as old writers should learn how to code. Due to the ever changing world of new media, writers are expected to wear many hats, coding being one of it. I believe that coding should be integrated in the PTW major because it is such a valuable skill. Many jobs require you to have some working knowledge of coding and I think as PTW students, it would give us a hedge in the workforce. If your dreams is to write within the realm of digital media then it is crucial to your professional development not only as a added skill but it helps with your critical thinking skills.

    • Jodie, thanks for pointing out how coding is an important professional (and marketable) skill. We’ll definitely be talking more this semester (and in the PTW more generally) about how coding is integrated into the degree. Have you discussed / used it yet in any of your other PTW classes (I know yesterday you ladies mentioned something about Professor Ferdinand stressing the importance of coding)?

  3. Just came across this article from ‘NPR’: “Coding Class, Then Naptime: Computer Science for the Kindergarten Set,” http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/09/18/441122285/learning-to-code-in-preschool, & it adds to this discussion here. Take a look and see what you think.

    The article, published last week, discusses “code as a fundamental literacy” & discusses its implementation in primary schools (which perhaps would help to alleviate the notion of it being scary or difficult that Mariah mentioned, concerns I know many of us share?).

  4. I have just started to learn coding with a little encouragement from my daughter. I think that it is important to learn the language of coding because “knowledge is key”. We are entering a generation where every child will automatically learn how to code just as they know how to talk and write. So without a doubt, I believe it should be taught in Professional and Technical Writing.

  5. I actually have no knowledge of coding. After reading the NPR article, I do feel it’s becoming more of a demand as the idea of teaching children to code is being introduced. This particular quote speaks on my fear of even learning to code. “With coding we throw you in the deep end in high school or college and are surprised when most kids drown.” This idea that coding can’t be broken down for an adult in a way that is not completely overwhelming is unacceptable.
    Coding should be integrated into the PTW major but it should be done in a way that breaks things down to a fundamental level.

  6. I have no skills in coding whatsoever and I always thought it leaned more towards engineering majors but I couldn’t be any more wrong. Coding may be a blessing or a nightmare but I’ll just have to wait and see.

  7. I have moderate experience in coding i took a class on it my senior year in high school and as Mariah said designing my fabulous myspace page back in 2007. I think being that we’re in a major that focuses on writing we should have some basic knowledge of how coding works. Even if thats just to be able to get out words out on a blog or web page in the style we like, so knowing how to center, align and change the font of what we’re posting would be helpful. I also think it would be important if you’re taking the editing route and you’ll be editing things both on and offline. Most of all being that the world is moving more and more towards a digital way of life as Jodie said it’ll give us an edge to understand it.

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