Coding DGST 395

DGST 395 Week 5

Starting off this week in Digital Studies we reflected on the question “Why program?” and my initial response was:

When posing the question of “Why program?” I immediately think of the functions of early computers. Events like putting man on the moon would not have been possible if we did not have these ginormous super computers to calculate the exact data points required to have a successful moon launch. This shows how computers are such an effective median to enhance what we already can do. Humans are capable of doing this math but we instead programed a computer to do it and do it a million times faster. I think the idea that people think computers are smarter than us is interesting because human were the ones who taught these computers how to do everything with code. Rushkoff says, “Computers and networks are more than mere tools: They are like living things, themselves. Unlike a rake, a pen, or even a jackhammer, a digital technology is programmed. ” Computers are more than tools they’re like helpers that we train to do these different things. They’re not confined to one function. Programming now is beyond just math, science, or even home ai. It’s evolved to art, music, and literature. It has application in all faucets of life and I think that fact proves it’s importance in society. To actually answer the question “Why program?”, because, no matter what you want to do you have the option to accomplish it by programming and that makes it an important skill to have.

I think my initial response is along the lines to what Nick Montfort and Douglass Rushkoff talked about in their writing. The idea that programming goes beyond instrumentalism is akin to my idea that we should learn to program since it is the next evolved medium of media and creation. I think the idea that there are two sides of society such as, writer and reader, and we’re currently in the time of programmer and user shows the importance of programming. It displays the view that by learning to program we would be put us on the right side of history in order to stay ahead of the curve. Also Montfort states that learning to program is beneficial to society for cognitive and problem solving skills but also for cultural understanding. So much of our life is programmed and being able to understand that in turn would be the understanding of our current culture.

Cathy O’Neill also delved into the topic of coding as we listened to her talk about algorithms on a short audio program. She talks about how algorithms are basically “opinions embedded in math”. In other words she’s saying that algorithms are skewed and biased a lot of the time. She calls algorithms that abuse this idea “weapons of math destruction”. I think a good example of this would be the use of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a statistic to measure the well-being of the population. Normally people look at the US as a country with a high GDP and say that shows our population is well taken care of but in reality the majority of the money our country receives is not spent on our well-being. Countries with lower GDPs could be spending a larger percentage of that money received on the community and would have a greater well-being. For the most part these “weapons of math destruction” are misleading statistics used for some sort of gain such as the US telling people we’re the best country in the world.

Lastly, we discussed our big project for the semester in which we have to solve or answer some sort of problem or question with society. My initial idea was to make a text-based adventure game. I started with the tool as I already had the idea but I didn’t know how to do it yet. I downloaded Quest and am currently trying to figure out all the ins and outs of the program before really making my game. After finding the software I currently am set on using I figured the topic of my game would be environmental. Since there are a lot of ways to mess up the environment I want my game to have a lot of ways to lose and maybe incorporate a point system so that when you do good things for the environment you get points and eventually you get enough points to unlock the ending. As of now this is just my idea and the final project will probably depend on my capabilities in Quest or maybe using a different program. Regardless of how it turns I’m looking forward to working on it more.

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