Down the Rabbit Hole, or How I Got One Step Closer to Accepting that I Don't Know What I'm Doing

A few weeks ago, I added the post Never Have I Ever where I stress-roasted myself because I felt incontrovertibly stupid trying to figure out what I am doing with my life Gephi. I really cannot emphasize how stressed and discouraged I was when I made that post. I have generally resigned myself to being technologically left behind from this point on, which is grim, but comforting.


Trying to read Lauren Klein's "The Image of Abscence" tonight before the kids' bedtime (not my brightest idea today), I made it about 7 pages when I saw her reference 'Protovis,' "a JavaScript-based toolkit for data visualization" and off I went to Google, since I knew it had to be in some way comparable to Gephi. Sure enough, Protovis is a thing and I got excited and ready to download it, till I caught the blurb right in the middle,

Protovis is no longer under active development.

The final release of Protovis was v3.3.1 (4.7 MB). The Protovis team is now developing a new visualization library, D3.js, with improved support for animation and interaction. D3 builds on many of the concepts in Protovis; for more details, please read the introduction and browse the examples.


and off I went to search for D3.js, which I easily found and downloaded...and could not open/run/use at all. But rather than the instinctive dispair I'm inclined towards...I kept trying. I cannot emphasize how surprising that is. 


The next level of the rabbit hole was googling how to run JavaScript in Google Chome, which led me to the Chrome DevTools' JavaScript page. This page provides detailed instructions, which I began following along and I totally did the thing! I typed in the lines of code and changed the little practice box to read 'Hello, Console!" instead of 'Hello World!' and it worked perfectly. Feeling exuberant, I again tried JavaScript...and nothing happened, so I clearly still don't know what I'm doing, but Dr. Drouin mentioned looking under the hood to see how it works and I feel like I finally grasped at it more than I have all semester. 


By this time, the kids were late for bed and everyone was frazzled...another happy night in the Pearce household. After ensuring my little heathens children were asleep, I sat back down and promptly dove into the rabbit hole head first. I went back to the Protovis page, where I did ...something?...and totally copied the code for the block quote announcement and pasted it into the plain text editor just for giggles...and it worked!! I did the thing! I went back and tried the DevTools Hello, Console! exercise again and it took many more attempts before I finally got it right (which is when I took the screenshot that I'm too tired to try working at uploading here). Now, it's 10:33 (yes, it's late—I'm old in my 30s and I don't care), I'm bordering on deriliousness (I legit just spent three solid minutes staring at to make sure I spelled that correctly), and a sense of calm resignation...I really don't know what I'm doing, but for the first time (maybe ever?) I'm not panicking about it.


...except for the part where I only read the 7 pages of Klein...