Do I Have To Be Techy?

In a word, no! You do have to be willing to be comfortable with experimentation, with things that break, and with asking for help from your peers or from the prof.

My ‘Technical’ Objectives for You

I aim to:

  • build your confidence with a variety of appropriate technologies
  • teach you how to teach yourself:
    • how to document process
    • how to find help
    • how to help others
  • foster a critical approach to digital techs, asking such questions as:
    • what does this tech assume about how the world works?
    • who could this harm?
    • who could it support?

On asking for help

Things break all the time. There is no shame in asking for help. Sometimes, whatever it is you’re trying to do breaks for reasons beyond your control: an underlying package is no longer maintained, for instance. Sometimes, you just need another pair of eyes.

And sometimes, you just need to take a break, then come back fresh. First things first: When you find yourself frustrated and nothing seems to work, STOP. Close your computer. Go for a walk. Take a break. If it doesn’t come in 30 minutes, it won’t come in 3 hours.

I do not want to hear about how you struggled heroically for hours with something and it just wouldn’t come together. That does not indicate effort. It indicates you didn’t hear me. There is no need to struggle on your own. No heroic lone scholars here!

When you need help, you can reach out to me, to a classmate, to a friend, neighbour, or family member. Digital history is a team sport, and I have no issue with you asking around for help, under one condition: all help is acknowledged.

When you want to ask me for help, please email me like this:

Dear Prof. Graham

I could use some help.

I was trying to:

>> Describe what it was you were trying to do.

>> Describe what you wanted to happen.

>> Describe the intended output of the code.

I am stumped by step X.

>> in the case where there are explicit steps to follow.

I consulted the following sites:

>> Link to any tutorial or online help you consulted.
>> Indicate if anything on these sites seems to be useful, even if you don't fully understand.
>> It is ok to indicate if the site seems to assume something that you just aren't getting: 'I don't understand where it says...'.

I have attached screenshots of what I am seeing.

>> attach as appropriate screenshots of:
>> - your code
>> - error message received/
>> on a mac, use cmd + 4 to take a screenshot; on windows, win + g

Thank you,

>> your name!