Tonight I participated in the Intro to PHP Workshop offered for free by Montreal Girl Geeks. More than 130 women registered and close to 90 showed up - an amazing sight! It was an interesting commentary on feminism: a woman-led workshop for women, but for which all the assistants (and hence those who actually know how to code) were men (save for @nanananini). I would really like to know why those guys volunteered (how they see women coders as beneficial to society) and how they perceive the discrepancies (as potentially detrimental to society). But of even greater interest was why there were so many women present... I'm not sure it means anything is really changing, but it was nice to witness it and be part of the momentum.
At the start of the night, everyone got a chance to quickly chat with their neighbours and get a sense of where everyone is coming from and why they are at a PHP workshop -- interestingly, nobody I met was a self-defined coder or even worked in the tech sector. Of the two women at my table, one was a community organiser; she said she was there to "just generally understand the world better." The other had just finished a computer science degree, which she described as the "theory behind the code" (did I do the wrong degree?? this sounds awesome!!!) Both women (who had never met each other before) had boyfriends working at UbiSoft. Funny.
For me the other interest in PHP is in thinking about how the language got written, how the process of writing a language for computers works, how variables are decided upon, how code speaks to machines, and so on. I'm fascinated by the weirdness of code -- that humans invented a language we can't read and that we've invented machines who can read code better than us -- but PHP is really pretty to look at, I'll give it that much.
Anyway, all this inspired me to also think about the relationship of my job, graphic design, to code. Why should graphic designers know code?
I work with coders and programmers and wireframers and information architects, but my job as the graphic designer is to breathe life into our work, make it feel intuitive to the user, and at its best, erase all traces of the design in and of itself to leave nothing but experience. It is to project a certain emotion and create the desired connection. That said, the way we work at Archinodes, is that there is very little distinction between functionality and form. We always keep these two in conversation. As a team, we make decisions together, and function and form are carefully crafted in unison, and meticulously documented. So for me this has meant that I need to acquire and maintain more than rudimentary coding skills to mock up websites and apps. In other words, what I learn about the back end of databases, social media, and content management systems, changes the way I conceptualise, draft, and produce the 'design' component.