Digital Humanities
@ Pratt

Inquiries into culture, meaning, and human value meet emerging technologies and cutting-edge skills at Pratt Institute's School of Information

Skillshare: Approach and Introduction to Python

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The video above serves as a personable introduction to the coding language python which will be elaborated on below.


This serves and a basic introduction to python, the coding language. Python is a great source tool for the someone not specifically code-literate to analyze data. It works especially well with many file formats which you can find a complete list of using the python standard library website. The file formats and data types that python can interact with open up a new window for the Digital Humanist. With the python language in your arsenal, you will be not only able to interact confidently with reports of data analyzed, but analyze the data yourself.

Just a basic understanding of python would allow for someone to navigate a large dataset and understand if it is important to their work. The incorporation in data, from any source can add a dimension of knowledge to one’s argument that may not be achievable without the use of numbers and statistics which you can manipulate using python. The learning of this language might be of the most interest to those that interact with social science data specifically. Python is even able to pull data from charts on pdf’s which are difficult to search if they have data one is attempting to correlate over many pages, or is chosen as the key denominator in one’s research. A drive to learn python would allow for a digital humanist to determine biases in data on their own without relying on reports from a data analysis.

Not only datasets can be manipulated using python, python can also be used to preform everyday tasks like opening up a series of favorite webpages, or scanning a digitized collections archive without a search bar. Python is not specifically marketed for DHers, because it is so versatile it can appeal to almost anyone. Digital Humanities work specifically however, can use this tool to say important things about a world that is data and algorithm driven. The incorporation of this language into the work of digital humanists could widen the range that the humanist can really see into the digital world and how it functions with a kind of “behind-the-scenes” look at what occurs in the computer’s code when it reports information. The knowledge of this language and it’s ability to communicate across a large range of file formats is something that cannot be found with all coding languages.

It can also interact with APIs, which are the keys that large websites use to organize their information. This could be of great use when navigating a massive database. One could take out the kind of material they like, place it into another, much smaller file, and interact with it as they wish without being overwhelmed by data.

Python is also excellent for creating visualizations. It can be used to create charts, graphs, and maps that update and the information in the website, or dataset is updated. Creating real time visuals that are dynamic and engaging for the work of a digital humanist in a digital setting.

Python may be daunting as it is a coding language in the company of professionals who dedicate their time to learning spoken languages, but it is intuitive and many resources exist to aid your search to better your basic coding knowledge. This language is something that already has endless possibilities, but in the hands of a digital humanist, has potential to help create intuitive, important conclusions from information that we have previously had little real way to interact with.

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