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Here we share some readings that were important to us in putting together the inaugural Speaking in Code event.

Code as Craft

"Speaking in Code," both as an event and a minor movement in the DH community, draws inspiration from larger movements in the software development world that encourage professionalization and code quality. These often speak of software development as a craft, possessed of its own best practices and rationale—its own theoretical basis, underlying the code produced and recommendations made by expert developers. Their suggestions are meant to apply to any programming language, and to almost any project. In fact, the recommendations of some software development communities extend beyond the act of programming itself and include suggestions for the work environment, such as specifying labor conditions and outlining collaborative practices that constitute an ethic and philosophy. Although the connection is rarely made explicit, the Scholars' Lab traces these impulses to the deeply humanistic work of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement. Readings in this section also include historicizing of software and platform development.

  • Brooks, Frederick P. The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering. Addison-Wesley Professional, 1995.
  • Cohen, Mike. Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using Scrum. Addison-Wesley Professional, 2009.
  • Ericsson, K. Anders, Ralf Th. Krampe, and Clemens Tesch-Römer. "The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance." Psychological Review, 1993. Vol 100, Number 3, 363-406
  • Fowler, Chad. The Passionate Programmer: Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development. Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2009.
  • Hoover, Dan. Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman. O’Reilly, 2009.
  • Hunt, Andrew. The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master. Addison-Wesley Professional, 1999.
  • McBreen, Pete. Software Craftsmanship: The New Imperative. Addison-Wesley Professional, 2001.
  • McConnel, Steve. Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction. Microsoft Press, 2004.
  • McPherson, Tara. “Why Are the Digital Humanities So White?, or, Thinking the Histories of Race and Computation.” in Debates in the Digital Humanities,Matthew K. Gold, ed. University of Minnesota Press, 2011.
  • Desmond Schmidt. "The inadequacy of embedded markup for cultural heritage texts." Literarary and Linguistic Computing 25.3 (2010): 337-356.

Academic and Aesthetic Considerations of Code

The media studies and digital humanities communities have discussed programming and software development for many years, but less often from the point of view of the everyday, practicing developer, and more often from the standpoint of the cultural critic or appreciator of code aesthetics. Critical Code Studies looks at code as an artistic object. This includes such practices as code poetry and interpreting code as literary texts. Software Studies is a broader area of study, which tends to pay less attention to the code itself and more to its end-product in software, and the place of that software in modern culture. Speaking in Code draws upon both of these areas of study, but its focus is more practical and hands-on. How do we create a software development culture in digital humanities that produces code which has beauty as well as considered, self-aware cultural impact—but which is also solidly constructed, flexible, and easy to maintain? How can we best mentor new developers and welcome a more diverse cohort of colleagues into digital humanities software development?

  • Bianco, Jamie Skye. “This Digital Humanities which Is Not One.” in Debates in the Digital Humanities, Matthew K. Gold, ed. University of Minnesota Press, 2011.
  • Drucker, Johanna. SpecLab: Digital Aesthetics and Projects in Speculative Computing. University Of Chicago Press, 2009.
  • Knuth, Donald. “Computer Programming as an Art.” In ACM Turing Award Lectures: The First Twenty Years., 33-46. ACM Press Angthology Series. NewYork: ACM Press, 1987.
  • Manovich, Lev. Software Takes Command. MIT Press (Software Studies Series), 2013.
  • Marino, Mark C. "Critical Code Studies," Electronic Book Review. 4 December 2006.
  • McGann, Jerome. "Marking Texts of Many Dimensions." A Companion to Digital Humanities, ed. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.
  • Nowviskie, Bethany. "Don’t Circle the Wagons." 4 March 2012.
  • Oram, Andy, and Greg Wilson. Beautiful Code: Leading Programmers Explain How They Think (Theory in Practice. O’Reilly Media, Inc., 2007.
  • Wardrip-Fruin, Noah. Expressive processing: digital fictions, computer games, and software studies. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2009.

Digital Humanities Contexts & Careers

Our emphasis, in Speaking in Code, on the professionalization of digital humanities developers is especially relevant because many of them have little to no formal training in computer science. Instead, they typically have deep training in particular disciplines of the humanities, and often encounter computer programming later in their academic careers as a way of furthering their own or others' research agendas. Their learning has therefore typically been self-directed. While it may be deep, this mode of learning can also result in understanding that is sporadic or inconsistent. The broader DH community will benefit from more explicit professional training opportunities in software development practices—particularly those designed to respect the special requirements and backgrounds of humanities developers. As issues of professionalization touch on alternative career paths, the growing body of thought and literature that is coalescing around the #alt-ac label is relevant to this discussion, as are broader critiques of the relation of the digital humanities to humanities scholarship: its aims, structures, and theoretical grounding.

  • Clement, Tanya and Doug Reside. “Off the Tracks: Laying New Lines for Digital Humanities Scholars.” Results of an NEH Workshop, Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, 2011.
  • Liu, Alan. "The state of the digital humanities: A report and a critique." Arts and Humanities in Higher Education. Feb/Apr 2012 11: 8-41.
  • ––––. "Where is Cultural Criticism in the Digital Humanities?" Paper delivered in The History and Future of the Digital Humanities panel, Modern Language Association Convention, Los Angeles, 7 January 2011.
  • Nowviskie, Bethany (ed). #Alt-Academy: Alternative Academic Careers for Humanities Scholars. MediaCommons Press, 2011.
  • Posner, Miriam. "Some things to think about before you exhort everyone to code." 29 February 2012.
  • Prescott, Andrew. "Consumers, creators or commentators?: Problems of audience and mission in the digital humanities." Arts and Humanities in Higher Education. Feb/Apr 2012 11: 61-75.
  • Prescott, Andrew. "#transformDH." in Digital Riffs. 20 February 2012.
  • Ramsay, Steven. "Programming with Humanists: Reflections on Raising an Army of Hacker-Scholars in the Digital Humanities." Teaching Digital Humanities: Principals, Practices, Politics. Ed. Brett D. Hirsch. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2012.
  • ––––. "Developing Things: Notes Toward an Epistemology of Building." Debates in the Digital Humanities. Ed. Matthew Gold, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.
  • Ruecker, Stan, Stéfan Sinclair and Milena Radzikowska. Visual Interface Design for Digital Cultural Heritage. Ashgate, 2011. (chapters 1 and 6 required).
  • Sinclair, Stéphan. "A Gentle Introduction to Correspondence Analysis."
  • Svensson, Patrik. "The digital humanities as a humanities project." Arts and Humanities in Higher Education. Feb/Apr 2012 11: 42-60.
  • Turkel, William J., Adam Cymble, and Alan MacEachern. The Programming Historian.
  • Turkel, William J. "Hacking History, from Analog to Digital and Back Again," Rethinking History 15, no 2 (June 2011): 287 - 296.