Parlez-vous code?

This semester I am continuing the trend of taking a digital (history) class. Although we’re calling it clio3, the name is properly Programming for Historians. The code and other work I generate will be going up in its own little corner of my webspace.

Hopefully I will finish the semester the proud creator of a working database into which I can input all of the various letters written by the family on whom my dissertation will be based, and with the database I will be able to conduct analysis (particularly location and movement). I’m excited to be building such a tool form scratch. I could have thrown something together in FileMakerPro (I managed several FMP databases at my previous job), but ever since I heard Jean Bauer talk about her Early American Foreign Service Database I’ve wanted to do the work myself, code and all.

I’ve been mucking about on the edges of codes of various kind for years. As a kid on MicroMUSE I learned the necessary commands to build myself an awesome house with an ever more awesome treehouse in the back yard (I was 10, what can I say?). Working in FMP I wrote scripts whose sytax reminded me a little playing around in the mux. I like the elegance and logic of coding languages, with the if and elseif, @desc and $variables. Unlike English, a language which bounces around and changes its mind about spelling and rules, code language seems to stay consistent once you’ve met it. I say seems to, because I’m still only just learning to speak these various languages, and I could be deluding myself. After all, in code-land I can only say “Parlez-vous anglais?” or “Ou est le WC?” and not much else.