Where We’re At
So looking back at where I was a little while ago (the beginning of August, not even that far back), I have come a long way. And, as is the sensation of learning, I have come to see how far I have to go as well.
Here are some simple points I can note with confidence:
Like with language, it’s easy to make it look like you’re ‘speaking the language.’
Let’s compare my screenshot from last time:
To the untrained eye, or my vision 2 weeks ago, these both look like “Code.” Very impressive. A lot like how if people can manage a basic amount of a language like Chinese, the outside viewer who knows nothing about it will assume they are pretty fluent.
The reason I say this is because I had this hunch that learning programming would be not only exactly like learning a language (in my case Japanese) but intensely benefit from prior experience in the field. If I could understand that which made me able to learn Japanese, and put them in clear and concise principles, I could apply those to my new study of programming and learn effectively.
Let’s see what those two similar looking, but in nature, completely different html docs look like when run.
Pretty basic huh. New:
This is just the front page, and there is so much more. Every aspect of this page I look at, there are things I am completely unaware of that I could do better or differently, and there are also things I am aware of that I want to do better. That’s a satisfying feeling; an empty canvas, with which I can paint as I will according to the abilities I feel like developing.
I ended up graduating with, among another major and other minors and extracurricular activities (read: protests, social action), a philosophy major. Beyond any of the stigma that comes along with that, I genuinely found it to have given me some of the most useful skills I could have possibly learned, in a practical sense, and also in an internal, emotional, human sense.
The ability to understand, and express. The honed desire for ideas that are clear and concise. The capacity to approach ideas incomprehensible, and the wisdom to set issues aside that are irrelevant or lack a solution.
There is nothing more fundamental to our daily lives than these skills, in my honest opinion. I’m sure there are a lot of schools out there where the actual implementation of the degree (teaching staff, curriculum) doesn’t do the field of study justice – as was the case with my other major – however, for what it was, my experience was indispensable.
The reason I talk about Philosophy, and one example of its applicability, is it helps me understand things like language, and now programming.
Take math: On the most simple level, one can memorize that 2+2=4, and 4+7=11. Make those example equations as complex as you want. To truly understand what ‘addition’ is, and all its actual and potential applications and implications, is something completely different. It’s an entire world of utility apart.
In the same way, one can memorize the 1:1 translation of any word in another language – but to understand why and how the actual ideas in our heads are expressed in the other language – it’s completely different.
So with programming: one can google search how to do something. Anything. Easily. On the internet. It’s 2020 (please end.). They can then copy and paste whatever they find into their code, change a few words so it applies to what they’re making, and be done.
However, to understand what the coding language itself does, what it asks of you, and what it can do, is completely different.
What I have come to understand about coding through HTML is this.
What I then have come to understand about HTML is that I needed to learn more than HTML to accomplish what I wanted to.
What I then learned about css is that it’s used in a separate document for cleanliness, conciseness, and efficiency. I can then assume that is true for the general method of artful programming.
What I then learned about bootstrap is that it is a grid system. I really have been learning this.
w3schools, a great resource so far, says this about bootstrap:
- Bootstrap is a free front-end framework for faster and easier web development
- Bootstrap also gives you the ability to easily create responsive designs
This is completely useless information for someone who doesn’t already know what all of that means. Thus. Pretty useless stuff. It’s like hearing that Japanese is an east asian language with the 2000+ Kanji, and 50+ character alphabet of Hiragana and Katakana, the comprehensibility of the language being dictated by a balance of those three writing systems, while pronunciation relies on pitch accent, You say, “Okay.”
On the other hand: you can just dive in. https://getbootstrap.com/docs/4.5/examples/
Bootstraps website as well as w3schools give examples. Take apart examples. Understand them. Recreate them. This is, in my opinion, the way to learn anything.
Where To Go From Here
While I’ve spent tons of time learning the ‘vocab’ of bootstrap (how to make a navbar, how to make a carousel, etc.), I was spending a lot of time looking up how to do each thing, and copying from examples. There’s no flexibility or efficiency in this. So I’ve spent a lot of time the last 2 weeks learning what bootstrap is.
You have to learn the vocab. You have to put your nose to the grindstone and do the hard work. But spending at least as much time searching for a true understanding will, in the end, not only make the artform more efficient and effective, but more artful, more full of beauty.
Will update again as the site nears completion!