Tag Archives: week0

Week 0

When overviewing the article going over some of the more prominent coding languages throughout the decades, it made even more apparent my lack of previous experience with web development. The only one I had recognized by name was Java. More than anything, it was just interesting to see the coding languages evolve throughout the years alongside technology that precedes and coincides with the gradual evolution of the web and internet. I was most surprised that different companies kept developing and expanding existing technology from other companies in a competitive sort of manner, as opposed to the same companies redesigning their own information. As a millennial, older people are always telling you that you’re very lucky and fortunate to grow up with the internet and all these capabilities due to technology. I did not know previously what exact year “The Web” was born, and it is slightly mind-blowing to learn that it was created right before I was born.

Another portion of the reading I enjoyed was part two of computational thinking and journalism. Specifically, when there was a quote regarding comparing everyday actions and computational actions. Comparing buying your own set of skis instead of renting is comparable to online algorithms.

Journalists and programmers

I’ve found the learning curve for programming as an overbearing writer to be both challenging and potentially rewarding.

Of course, there are the similarities in thought processes between copy editors and programmers (e.g., Brian Schlansky using his editing habits to carefully read each line of code). And, as a large portion of the “Rethinking our Thinking” post cleverly and reasonably detailed, coders are in many ways like editors. But copy editors are often the worst enemies of writers.

Some of the 17 rules of Unix Philosophy are anathema to the laws of good writing (Melville, Churchill, etc.). “Clarity is better than cleverness” and “Design for simplicity” to name a few. Having the habit of condensing lines to the bare necessities — and potentially breaking the entire code with a single character out of place — is also frightening to writers, yet common workflow for coders.

What I see as potentially rewarding is the benefit that journalists could gain in learning from programmers. Software languages — like human languages — have developed from Autocode to iOS, and that matters because we as future programmers should know that everything is fluid and able to continually evolve. And although coding often requires linear, step-by-step thinking (similar to the infrastructure of the internet) when compared to writing that is often tangental and more loosely flowing from beginning to end, there is still a progression of thought and purpose for the finished product.

After completing the readings, I still don’t believe that writers are programmers. But I do believe that writers and programmers have the capacity to be journalists. I have faith that the end goal of both draws on some common ground between the diametrically opposing belief systems. When writers use their words and images to tell stories, programmers rely on design and page hierarchy to tell you what’s important. Perhaps, just as there are many forms of writing, a visually appealing article page could be equally as effective in enlightening and entertaining an audience — even when compared to a Shakespearean play? Ah! There’s the rub.

Mindset and Re-thinking

When reading through the progression of programming languages, I had heard of many of them but never knew what they were or that there were even different programming languages. Though that reading outlines the key traits of each programming language, it was difficult for me to conceptualize without actually seeing them in action. The tree connecting the different programming languages, other than signifying when each was created, wasn’t too helpful in understanding the relation between them either.  That is one reason why it was difficult to know which of the programming languages I’m most interested in learning about, as I do not fully understand the differences and pros and cons of each.

Your blog post on mindset and thinking and how they relate to each other was the most interesting of our readings for me. Having a psychology background from underground, I’m reading a book right now that is actually called Mindset, based on research by Carol Dweck. Without getting too sidetracked, her research deals with how your mindset affects different outcomes in your life. More specifically, people with fixed mindsets tend to view their abilities as unchanging, while people with growth mindsets view their abilities as malleable. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people who view their abilities — whether it is academic or athletic or whatever else — as malleable find more success. For example, someone who figures they just are not a math person will struggle with math. Whereas someone who may not be very good at math, but who thinks he or she can improve, will often do better.

And yet, almost subconsciously, I’ve always had an intimidation of coding and programming. In the same way that some people (wrongly) think they are simply not cut out to do math, I never even entertained the idea of coding because I figured you had to be a real computer person to get good at it. Which is why the most comforting and encouraging thing to hear last night was that Greg did not have any sort of coding background either.

Metaphor is key

I’ve never been great at left-brain thinking — math especially. Reporters are notoriously bad at math, so that was one more thing that helped me fit into this profession.

But the further removed I’ve become from the feeling of stressful confusion that dominated my experience in math and other classes that generally served as precursors for those who went into computer science careers, the more interested I’ve become in the prospect of learning code. Computers aren’t going away.

Getting past the jargon of programming will be a huge hurdle for me. I love deciphering jargon — good journalism writing is being able to cut through jargon and clearly explain concepts to readers — but up until I really understand a concept, it’s difficult for me to connect the dots for myself, let alone readers. That’s why Greg Linch’s post on computational thinking was so helpful.

Specifically this passage, from Jeannette Wing’s article that Greg pulls is very helpful for getting in the right frame of mind:

“When your daughter goes to school in the morning, she puts in her backpack the things she needs for the day; that’s prefetching and caching. When your son loses his mittens, you suggest he retrace his steps; that’s backtracking. At what point do you stop renting skis and buy yourself a pair?; that’s online algorithms. Which line do you stand in at the supermarket?; that’s performance modeling for multi-server systems. Why does your telephone still work during a power outage?; that’s independence of failure and redundancy in design…”

Metaphors like these will greatly help me de-mystify the definitely mystifying world of computer programming and instill some much-needed confidence when I’m tackling topics like this.

I also felt super mellowed out when reading the Zen of Python post. Many of these mantras work for life.

Beautiful is better than ugly.
Explicit is better than implicit.
Simple is better than complex.

Especially in regards to the “explicit is better than implicit” piece, I’m getting a sense that writing code is a bit like doing the work of an observant reporter — one who shows rather than tells — but it’s even more akin to writing a screenplay. When doing screenplay writing, every action is clearly denoted and explicitly stated. Actors in a horror never “feel scared” in a screenplay. They start to sweat. They clench their fists. They dart their eyes around. Their intention and thoughts are only conveyed through action.

It’s a very different way to think about writing than what many of us are used to, but learning it has helped my journalistic writing.

Behind the Curtain of PR

Although I have been “functioning” in the PR field for quite some time now, I did not fully realize how much I owe to the codes that make up the foundation of my everyday work. However, the IT revolution is a fact, and we are surrounded by a whole range of electronic devices. Each of them is programmed in some way; therefore, it is significant to know how they work. Such an understanding increases the chances of professional development, without the necessity of becoming an expert. Regardless of the industry in which one works, we spend more and more time using the Internet. In my opinion, knowing how it is created can one day help me in the future.

This week’s readings present that programming is omnipresent. If you drive a car, you must have some knowledge of how the mechanics behind it. That is why I have a similar approach to learning web development and programming techniques. As a result of my work this semester, I can not only become better at my job, but also create higher quality projects for future clients.

Learning the language of programming can also be helpful in acquiring the knowledge of other useful skills. Logical thinking, the ability to create and examine solutions step-by-step as well as anticipating consequences are just a few of the benefits of gaining coding-related knowledge. Also, it is a kind of mental exercise, thanks to which I will be able to communicate more efficiently – since the organization of thoughts and ideas in a logical way undeniably helps in this process.

Moreover, after completing three lessons on Codecademy’s platform, I have a better understanding of web development and its significance in the field of communication. Thus, I am looking forward to this class and all the exciting things I will learn.

Unraveling the mystery of the internet.

The internet has been grossly been interpreted by many and has hence created the idea that, its nuance and supposedly complex nature  are solely designated to a few tech-savvy professionals who somehow have special skills to demystify these complexities. The readings, from how the internet works through the various philosophies of the software companies, allayed my fears as a not so tech-savvy type.

It was particularly refreshing to note that many in the tech industry are acutely aware of the general perception about the internet and have been working on simplifying our view and experience on their systems. That was a huge sigh of relief for me, especially having held the notion that this area of study is a reserve for a few.

My ultimate take aware is that the internet is, and will always be, a continuum. Understanding and working the internet is an unending enterprise that requires frequents updates of information, just as applications and software do.

Modern Day Journalism

Our world is constantly developing and changing. From the readings, we can see how the internet evolved to lead us to where we are today. It is not going to stop here and as our demand increases, the urge to create something new is a requirement. As our world becomes more complex, the problems we face do too. Computational thinking is a critical way to solve such problems because we need to understand and assess the situation before taking a stab at solving it.

I found it very interesting to learn more about the importance of our mindset behind learning how to code. As PR professionals, we understand the importance of digital platforms and how crucial it is to utilize them as best as possible. A couple of years ago, I was working for a tech company that helped couples plan their weddings. One of our main goals was to constantly update our mobile app to make it as user-friendly as possible. Consumers are always on their phones and we need to meet such demand. We must understand human behavior to understand their needs. Journalism is evolving and in order to do better journalism, we need to incorporate innovation and technology. We must look at a matter as a whole then dissect it into small pieces, in order to find patterns and understand what the issue is made up of.


A Whole New World

As I began watching the YouTube video for one of week 0’s assignments, I got excited when I had many “aha moments,” due to my experience in information technology on the military side. However, as I got my eyes on the reading assignments, I had a mixture of anxiety and ease.

In all honesty, programming seems like it is a giant puzzle that takes a lot of effort to solve. I have always had an interest in teaching myself the basics of coding, but I got extremely overwhelmed when I made the interesting choice of starting off with JavaScript as my first language. I used to feel extremely discouraged when people’s response to me expressing my love for public relations and interest for programming was “they are completely unrelated.” The blogs regarding computational thinking & journalism part one and part two granted me some ease and made me feel like it can be one of the most marketable skills a communications professional could have.

In the “Timeline of Software Languages” reading, it conveyed that coding languages are always changing. It was interesting to read that there are so many languages out there that serve different purpose, yet have the ability to feed off of each other. In the technology realm, programming and devices are constantly evolving. I predict that in the future, there will be many professions that will be valuable if they have at least some exposure to programming. The “Timeline of Computer History” is a great example that computers have never stopped changing from the 1930s.

Overall, I am happy to learn that programming isn’t so much a new world, but a part of ours that many professionals haven’t taken the time to get to know.

Is this a whole new world or is this a world I never took the time to see?

Course Preparation – Spring 2019

Welcome! Our first class session is Tuesday, Jan. 15 from 5:10-7:30 p.m.

Be sure to review the syllabus before the first class.

The readings, site registrations and software installations below must be completed by Sunday, Jan. 13 by 11:59 p.m. The analysis post is due by Monday, Jan. 14 by 11:59 p.m.

Pre-course assignments

Required free software to install:

Notes on required software:

  • These three programs must be downloaded and installed before the first class to be sure you can hit the ground running.
  • If you have problems installing that you can’t resolve by searching online, please contact the instructor as soon as possible.
  • After you install them, you don’t have to start using them before class starts, but you’re encouraged to explore what they do and why we’ll be using them.
  • Important: Don’t change any MAMP or XAMPP settings.

Be sure to subscribe to the blog to get all the updates posted here:

Analysis Posts

Everyone will receive an individual login for this WordPress site so you can submit the analysis post. If you haven’t used WordPress before, please see the first section on how to post. Be sure to:

  • Add a title that briefly describes the content, themes, etc. of your post
  • Under “Categories,” check the box for “2019 Spring class”
  • Under “Tags,” add one called week0 — with no spaces between week and zero (it will be one of the suggested options when you starting typing “week”). After that you can add other tags that are relevant to what you discuss in your post (e.g. history of programming, computational thinking, etc.)
  • If you don’t want your post’s content publicly viewable on the course blog, please change the “visibility” to “password protected” in the publish box (top-right of the post edit page; see instructions) and enter the password I sent by email. That way everyone in class can read it, but not the wider web.
  • Under the “Notifications” section, always check the “instructor” box, which notifies me your post is ready.
  • Change the status to “pending review” and save

The weekly analysis posts don’t need to touch on every single thing covered, especially this time because there was such a variety of material. Ideally, in the case of a reading/video, a post will explore a particular theme or topic you found most interesting. Choose one (or a few) things and go into more depth.

In the future, if most of the work assigned one week is skills-based or project-based, you can reflect on that experience. Also, as mentioned in the syllabus excerpt, those assignments will be when you want to talk about progress you’ve made and any hurdles.

Some brief explanation can be ok, but definitely avoid summarization for the analysis posts. The only exception is if you’re doing an explainer of something you learned while working on your final project.

The point is to do one or more of the following — or something along these lines:

  • analyze the materials
  • find connections between the materials within a given week (or, in the future, between weeks)
  • relate something to your experience (how it could help you, how it enlightened you about something, etc)

Also, be sure to link back to the materials you reference in your post.

Please let me know if you have any questions by email or in the comments below. I look forward to meeting everyone at the first class session!