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ME.Digital Humanities Institute: Week 2:Jan. 29-Feb 4

The Maine Digital Humanities Institute provides training and resources to faculty, librarians, museum professionals and others interested in digital humanities.

Week 2: The Command Line

This week we will devote ourselves to becoming familiar with the Command Line, working with the excellent step-by-step lesson plan from the CUNY Grad Center. Some of you may remember ancient versions of the command line, back in the day before computers had graphical interfaces (remember those DOS commands?). To complete this lesson, you need to have installed Visual Studio Code (VS), as outlined in last week's lesson.

Intro to Command Line -- I suggest bookmarking this link, which is also posted on the Institute home page. When you first open up, you'll see a list of files. Scroll down a bit and you'll see the beginning of the lesson.

The command line is not difficult to use but can feel like a foreign language. Understanding how it works gives you more access to a greater variety of computing tools and programs. For example, setting up a digital exhibit platform like Omeka looks terrifying because it requires using the command line.  But not terrifying at all if you understand the basics of the command line.

Step-by-step instructions are provided for both Mac and Windows users. As you get into the lesson, you will see that Windows users should install a particular version of the command line tool, which I believe is a UNIX tool that works more effectively with Visual Studio Code than the non-Unix Windows command line.  There is a link to do so embedded in the lesson, along with step-by-step instructions. I tried this on my Windows home machine and it worked like a charm. Be in touch if that installation generates bumps.

Also, as you get into the lesson, you'll run into one command that looks like "-1". For the longest time, I fought with this command because I thought I it was a #1 (one). Rather, it is the letter "l", for line.

I suggest doing this lesson in a couple of short sessions of half-hour to 45 minutes rather than sitting down all at once. Post to the Week 2 channel if you are having  trouble or questions. We can figure it out, and it is easy for me to post a short instructional/troubleshooting videos for a specific area.

Also, has anyone used the command line before? For what purpose? Please share how you've used it in the Week 2 channel, so that all of us begin to get a deeper understanding of how and why it is used. 

Finally, if you haven't had a chance to browse through the reviews from Week 1, take some time to do so. The goal here isn't to master or memorize all of these, but simply to see what's out there and what's possible. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don't worry -- just absorb what you can. I was in your shoes a year ago, and now am facilitating this Institute! I definitely have a long ways to go myself, but have realized, in putting this together, that I've actually learned tremendous amount over the past year.

NOTE: The end of the Command Line unit refers to GitHub as the next lesson in the workshop. All of our lessons are using GitHub, so you'll soon have a sense of what it looks like. We are going to skip the actual GitHub unit, but if anyone is interested in exploring Git, you can view the lesson link from the our Institute Home page. GitHub is a sharing platform that is widely used in the tech industry to exchange and update code, and keep track of changes, and for collaborative digtial humanities projects that span departments and institutions. It's sort of like "Track Changes" on massive steroids.  Like everything else, it's not rocket science, but I have excluded it from our workshop as it doesn't seem that relevant to this group, and might feel like going through a lesson for the sake of going through a lesson.