With the advent of the Internet, the citadel of coding expertise opened its doors, expanding its purview decisively outside of the discipline of Computer Science. Because so much information comes to us in digital form, everyone from physicists to psychologists now needs to perform computational tasks. Unfortunately, how-to books on coding—even those for Dummies—typically address people who wish to become coding professionals, not those of us who need no more knowledge of code than is necessary to accomplish specific tasks within our own home disciplines.
Humanists in particular confront a new landscape: our cultural heritage is being digitized on a massive scale: Google Books now contains upwards of 25 million volumes; the Digital Public Library of America, 13 million; Europeana, 54 million items; and HathiTrust, 15 million, 5 million of which are in the public domain. JSTOR and ProjectMuse have digitized over 2,500 journals, many of them from their inception up through current issues, and they have begun digitizing books. University presses are digitizing their out-of-print books. The Internet Archive / Open Library contains over 10 million texts, along with 502 billion archived websites. And together the Gutenberg Project and the Text Creation Partnership have made available 100,000 hand-typed texts.
When Humanities scholars sit down at their desks to do their research, the tasks they must perform no longer resemble those in which they were trained. This series is designed so that you do not have to confront those tasks alone.
Each book in the series addresses Humanities scholars, presuming no computer science expertise of any sort. The typical book on Python, XSLT, or XQuery, languages that are particularly good at manipulating texts, will often explain a bit of code by referring to other programming languages, offering non-experts no insight whatsoever. The books in this series never do so, offering full explanations to the non-expert, resorting to metaphors rather than math. Moreover, the accompanying websites for each volume, available at http://coding.forhumanists.org, offer supplementary materials such as basic installation instructions, regularly updated, as well as examples to follow and re-usable code snippets that can be adapted to your own needs, the books themselves explaining how. Authors can be contacted through the website to provide clarification and make corrections.
The books in this series are designed to get you up-and-running in accomplishing specific tasks, not to turn you into a full-time coding professional. They are designed to give you the information you need to do Humanities research and publication in the digital environment: creating sophisticated websites and databases, interrogating massive amounts of textual data, creating and understanding visualizations, and building archival-quality digital editions, to name a few of the volumes currently planned. But in addition to imparting the skills you need to perform these tasks effectively, they also provide a solid understanding of coding languages and thus offer the foundation you need to acquire greater expertise should you wish to do so.
Our goal in publishing these books is to meet you where you are, take your hand, and walk with you into the digital forest so that you can find what you need.