Are you working in digital preservation, libraries or archives but feel like you could do with extra digital skills because you are not a programmer? Or do you just want to become more proficient in certain programming languages? Join the club! You are definitely not alone. While efforts are underway, such as the DPC Python study group, we believe there’s room for more. That’s why we’re excited to introduce a study group dedicated to cultivating digital skills, with a twist: learning by creating games! This blog invites you to take part in the new study group: Bits and Bots.
The initiative for this study group comes from Francesca Mackenzie (National Archives UK), Lotte Wijsman (National Archives of the Netherlands), and Susanne van den Eijkel (KB, National Library of the Netherlands). We have all been working in the field of digital preservation for the past couple of years and were looking for a way to learn some digital skills, such as coding in Python and HTML. The three of us, like more people in this field do, have a background in the humanities, but realise our jobs often also require some technical skills. Whether it is analysing files in a hex editor or installing tools via GitHub, certain digital know-how can help a lot. We do not have to become full-blown programmers, but having a basic level of understanding will aid our work. Moreover, it is nice to learn some new skills that can be used for a broad variety of activities.
Through our conversations, we developed the idea to start a study group to learn these digital skills. To begin with, we will focus on Python and HTML, but there is room to expand in the future if there is a need for it. What sets this study group apart is that we won’t just be following tutorials and guides, it is a hands-on experience with the goal to learn these skills by creating a game! This way you can directly apply your new knowledge in a fun and informal manner. You can create games with other people or by yourself and discuss challenges you run into in the study group. After a few months, you might have a game or two that you created yourself! We think there are more people who would like to learn skills by building games, so that is why we are assessing now if there is any interest so we can do a kick-off of the Bits and Bots study group in February. So please fill in our Google form (see end of this blog) if you are interested in joining!
Developing digitals skills and games?!
Yes! This group is indeed focussed on learning digital skills by creating games. We will start the group with two skills, HTML and Python, but might include other skills later on, depending on the needs of the participants. We will provide handy guides to learn from and arrange monthly meet-ups where we can discuss your progress, challenges, and further plans. It is all about having this space where people can learn with and from each other and gamifying your knowledge of the field. This way, we can end up with a library of field-specific games to share with others. As this is a new initiative, we have to determine how many of you are interested and how much time everyone can dedicate to this project. For now, we plan to start in February and let the group run for roughly half a year. So if you don’t mind being a guinea pig and would love to try something new, this group is definitely for you!
You’ll start from scratch after the kick-off. You pick a skill to learn (Python or HTML) and start with the handy guide that we have created for you. After that, you create a simple game to start you off. After a month, we will have another meeting where we can chat with everyone to see what games were made and where people got stuck. After that first official meeting, you can decide on the story you want to tell with your game, or the knowledge you want to gamify. You want to build a hangman in python with a word list linked to preservation? Great! Or maybe create an interactive storyline, using HTML, on how to handle an obsolete file format? Go for it. It’s up to you if you want to collaborate with your co-workers within your institution or other members of the group. There’s only one rule that applies: it should be fun working on your project!
When will we start?
The kick-off will take place online in February 2024. In order to give as many people the possibility to join the kick-off of this study group, there will be two online meetings to mark the start:
- Thursday February 8th, 10:00-11:00 CET
- Tuesday February 13th, 16:00-17:00 CET
We need you!
As a participant, you can join the monthly online meetings and have access to the study guides. We will use Slack as an informal platform that allows you to share your progress, ideas, and challenges and have a way to quickly chat with other participants.
For those keen on a more active role, you can contribute to the guides or assist in developing new ones. The level of involvement is entirely up to you! All that matters is that we can all learn some digital skills in a fun, informal way.
We’d love to reuse the games that have been created and share them with colleagues in the field. For example, iPres would be a great community event to show off your game and let others experience it as a learning tool.
Got enthusiastic about joining Bits and Bots? You can sign up by filling out this Google form.
If you have any questions about the study group or doubts if you want to join, do not hesitate to contact Lotte Wijsman at [email protected].
We hope to virtually welcome you to our study group. Game on!
Francesca, Lotte and Susanne