Learning the Basics of Python with GCDI

Last Thursday, 9/10 I attended the Intro to Python workshop hosted by the GCDI, and led by Rafa, a Digital Fellow, PhD student, and organizer of the Python Users’ Group at the Graduate Center. Before the event, I received a few emails with instructions on how to install the software we’d be using in the workshop. It seemed a little intimidating, but Rafa provided detailed instructions and offered to help troubleshoot leading up to the event. And if anyone wasn’t successful with their installations, we were recommended, repl.it, to follow along.

Getting started in repl.it

With the Python green light, ‘>>>’, up on our Terminals, we began experimenting. We started practicing with simple math problems, then learned how to assign variables to create the iconic greeting, “hello world.” Generally, if you give the terminal instructions, it will respond immediately. We did a lot of trial and error, learning that we use the text editor to write the file but the computer runs it.

Why learn Python? It’s a general purpose language, meaning you can do pretty much anything with it: text/data analysis, create a website or video game, etc. Python is also incredibly popular, and coding is very social. With Python’s clean and simple code, it’s easy for developers to understand each other. Its users can’t really go too rogue because they’re forced to write in the standard language. Thanks to its popularity, there are countless tutorials and videos to learn from.

I didn’t have any background in Python, so this workshop was the perfect place to start. Rafa said “Learning Python is a journey.” I’m excited to dig into the language more, and to understand how I might want to use it in future projects. I plan to continue learning via YouTube and attending the GC’s Python User Group. Be sure ake a look at the GCDI’s upcoming calendar of virtual events: https://gcdi.commons.gc.cuny.edu/calendar/. Given the challenges of virtual learning, Rafa did an excellent job of teaching us the basics in a limited time.

2 thoughts on “Learning the Basics of Python with GCDI

  1. Brianna Caszatt (she/her/hers)

    I agree! It was such a great workshop, and Rafa and Filipa were very helpful and supportive. I am so excited to learn more about Python.

    I find it interesting learning a programming language and thinking about rules and logic and conventions, which is all something we do everyday in spoken languages but take for granted.

    And I love that Rafa took a moment to acknowledge and celebrate that all of the attendees in the workshop were women.

  2. Patricia Belen

    I agree too, this workshop was extremely helpful as an Introduction to Python. I wish there was a Part 2 workshop because we only touched the surface. The readings from these past few weeks have made me question the integrity of the tools used for DH projects. Perhaps, writing one’s own code is one way to avoid the inherent bias built into some of the tools available.

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