Commit 3462683a authored by Geoff Cox's avatar Geoff Cox

Update Readme.md

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## 1. Getting Started
## 1.1 Begin()
It has become commonplace, or sometimes even mandatory, to include programming in education programmes at all levels and across a range of disciplines. Yet this still remains relatively uncommon in the arts and humanities, in subjects where learning to program does not relate explicitly to career aspirations. This raises questions about what gets included or not in curricula, and why this is the case, beyond vocational needs, to what kinds of knowledge and skills are considered appropriate for some and not others. Certain kinds of privilege is clearly affirmed in these choices. For instance, and in very general terms, "high culture" related to art and philosophy has long been the domain of university-educated (wealthy, white) people over the "low culture" of ordinary people and the experience of everyday life. Programming cuts across this in interesting ways as both an exclusive and specialised practice for sure but also one rooted in the acquisition of skills with real-world applications in both work and play. We might usefully characterise this in terms of literacy -- once applied to the skills of reading and writing -- to further include programming. Indeed coding is often referred to as "the literacy of today", and as the 21st century skill "we must learn to master [sic]".<sup>[1](#myfootnote1)</sup> Argubly, knowing some basic coding skills will enhance employability in the future, but also allow for a better understanding of how things (codes) are *encoded* and *decoded* more widely.
It has become commonplace, sometimes even mandatory, to include programming in education programmes at all levels and across a range of disciplines. Yet this still remains relatively uncommon in the arts and humanities, in subjects where learning to program does not relate explicitly to career aspirations. This raises questions about what gets included or not in curricula, and why this is the case, beyond vocational needs, to what kinds of knowledge and skills are considered necessary for some and not others. Certain kinds of privilege is clearly affirmed in these choices. For instance, and in very general terms of cultural studies, *high culture* related to art and philosophy has long been the domain of university-educated (wealthy, white) people over the *low culture* of ordinary people and the grounded experience of everyday life. Programming cuts across this in interesting ways as both an exclusive and specialised practice for sure but also one rooted in the acquisition of skills with real-world applications in both work and play.
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To use the term literacy implies much wider social situations and cultural relations in everyday life and everyday use, which is how Annette Vee, the author of the book "Coding Literacy", suggests us to shift our focus from skill to wider relations. As she says, "Seeing programming in light of the historical, social, and conceptual contexts of literary helps us to understand computer programming as an important phenomenon of communication, not simply as another new skill or technology"<sup>[2](#myfootnote2)</sup>.
We might usefully characterise this in terms of literacy -- once applied to the skills of reading and writing -- to further include programming. Indeed coding is often referred to as "the literacy of today", and as the 21st century skill "we must learn to master [sic]".<sup>[1](#myfootnote1)</sup> Argubly, knowing some basic coding skills will not only enhance employability in the future, but also allow for a better understanding of how things (codes) are *encoded* and *decoded* more widely. Echoing cultural studies, and its foundations in an expended understanding of literacy to include ordinary culture, Annette Vee's book *Coding Literacy* is an attempt to shift our focus from the skill to these wider cultural and social relations. As she puts it, "Seeing programming in light of the historical, social, and conceptual contexts of literary helps us to understand computer programming as an important phenomenon of communication, not simply as another new skill or technology."<sup>[2](#myfootnote2)</sup>
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Beyond coding literacy, we also observe other kinds of literacy in mainstream media, policy making and academic discourses, such as procedural, data and digital literacy.<sup>[3](#myfootnote3)</sup> So, what are the implications that coding is framed under the umbrella of literacy, and for whom? In her book, Vee weaves together parallel histories of writing and coding movements, to compare and trace what it means by literacy, and how to understand the rise of computing and the cultural discourse around the importance of code and coding. Indeed, it is commonly seen that writing and coding, text and code are used to discuss in parallel, which is especially seen in humanities genre like electronic literature, digital humanities and software studies <sup>[4](#myfootnote4)</sup>. You will also experience such discussion regarding code and language in Chapter 7 - Vocable Code. As in our earlier claim about gaining an expanded coding literacy by reading and using this book, we take one of Vee's arguments for coding literacy, which is to learn new ways to think, and that literacy no longer enough for just "reading for comprehension", but also "reading for technical thought as well as writing with complex structures and ideas" <sup>[5](#myfootnote5)</sup>. Such argument for literacy, however, is not only for individual but also concerning wider cultural and society levels in which one can create and make changes. This will lead to a different way of coding practice beyond specialized discplines like Computer Science and Engineering, the so-called 'STEM' curriculum and approaches. Although Vee's book is not a programming book and does not address the question of how to program, the book is very rich in terms of unpacking the notion of literacy from a historical and comparative manner.
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As the first chapter of this book, we think that it is important to reflecting on why do we need to learn programming, which is also a way to set the scene and sustain our motivation to learn persistently. Knowing the fact that not all new learners would like to be a creative coder or professional programmer, we would then also address on code as means to work computationally, to think conceptually on wider cultural issues as well as to raise questions critically. As such, engaging with programming provides a way to creating changes in techno-cultural systems (which we have also discussed in the Preface). By understanding from many others especially our students who begin with our course without any programming experience, learning to code is a deep learning process with enjoyment and achivement but also comes with frustration in most of the times, specially there are new perspectives, syntaxes and structure to explore and experiment at the first place. It may not come naturally but takes time to familiar with computational thinking through structured logics and precise procedures.
//////ADD programm or be programmed.
//////On one level, the choice is simple: to program or be programmed.
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