I have been following the
#100DaysofCode community for a while now and thought that it was sad that there didn’t seem to be a connection with the DH community. 100 Days of Code is such a great project which is motivational for those willing to learn but also a great way to foster a community. So I thought, why not start
#100DaysofDH and I did. Looking forward to your contributions!
The main activity around this will be happening on Twitter (account is
#100DaysofDH) but there is also a minimalist github.io page:
https://100daysofdh.github.io/ On the github, you can also find the current state of the Tweepy and AWS-powered bot.
The story behind the creation of this challenge
Before getting into the details of how the challenge works, let me share some thoughts that I had in mind for the adaption of the 100 days challenge to the DH (skip this part if you just want the rules which can be found in short form on the github.io page) . Lately, I have also been (trying to) do the 100 days of dissertation challenge (less successfully in these times of pandemic, I must say) but motivation was pretty low. So I thought a combination of 100 days of dissertation and 100 days of code would be really good for me 😉 I thought that this combination targeted at my needs might make me more likely to actually go through with it.
One thing about the 100 days challenges that I had not been respecting thus far is that you are supposed to post your progress. I never really got why that would make sense for me to do but lately I’m thinking this might be an important psychological aspect of why some people pull through and I didn’t. One the one hand, of course, tweeting progress was meant for developers-to-be to get to know each other and have a professional network already when their 100 day challenge is up. This could be a nice aspect for the DH as well – I have so little contact to American DH communities, for example, and that’s too bad because there are so many fun things going on over the pond too. My filter bubble is so Europe-centered. That was also part of the allure of 100 days of code for me because it is so international and I think that’s definitely part of the allure for many people doing 100 days around the globe too. But another thing which makes 100 days of code a success likely is its recommendation that you interact with at least two fellow participants per day (such as by tweeting about your successes, failures and experiences with the challenge or just tweeting a question for more seasoned developers to answer). This creates a certain social pressure to see through your goals and provides some community support for doing it (I could really use some of that right now!). So I thought, hey, the DH community is on Twitter – why not try this? And I have been wanting to make a cool bot anyway (hello procrastination!).
The idea behind the bot so far is to retweet and like posts with the
#100DaysofDH hashtag, to follow back and also to post motivational prompts on every day of the week which engage people to share their stories. It is also supposed to post motivational comments under posts from the community including
#100daysofDH, like the
#100daysofcode motivational bot does. This is a) fun to set up and b) hopefully helps to create engagement from the start when maybe not tons of people are joining the challenge at first. Edit: In the meantime, I noticed that automated liking is prohibited by the Twitter automation rules, so I ditched that one.
The bot (and community) are also supposed to include combinations like (
#dh/#digitalhumanities) or (
#dh/#digitalhumanities) or (
#dh/#digitalhumanities) and also retweet DH community events such as the dhawards or the dayofDH. If you have any more suggestions, please let me know, I’m happy to include more. But this way (meaning including some writing stuff as well because since it’s not
#100daysofDH and we can make it what we like), I think we could maximize the target audience for whom it could be relevant.
Edit: At the time of publication of this post, not all those features are implemented yet 😉
Is the challenge only for newbies? Absolutely not!
The challenge is meant as a fun way to start getting into the DH but it’s for all sorts of DH people. You can have many reasons for taking the challenge (motivational problems, sharing your (work in) progress with the community, increasing visibility in the community).
Seasoned members of the DH community are especially invited to answer questions if newbies have them and to provide encouragement. You can contribute by liking, sharing, and promoting the challenge to your students. You could make it a project for a one semester course for extra credit. Or make this a form of online teaching (who knows until when we need to keep this up…). It is also meant as a prompt for content creators and DH educators to provide materials which can be used by those taking the challenge.
I will or kind of have already set up a blog category
#100DaysofDH for which I will (hopefully soon) tag posts which might be interesting for challenge takers to look at during their 100 days, in case you don’t already have tons of ideas lined up.
Another possible use case is to use the challenge to show off all the (often invisible) works which goes into DH projects by tweeting about them. It helps the public get a better idea of what it is that those DH people really do all day and can be a source of low-effort, no-cost promotion for your projects. It makes sure people already know about what you’re doing before the publication date, so that you’ll get more readers/visitors when it’s out. So as you can see, lots of possibilities even when you’re not a newbie at all!
Read about two examples of completed challenges in these blog posts:
- [Guest Post] Reflection on my #100DaysOfDH challenge experience (by Philip Allfrey): An example of doing DH after/before work when working in a different field.
- My own: I finally finished my own #100DaysofDH; Here’s the wisdom!
Promoting less visible parts of the DH community
It has been shown by studies that (male and white) privilege (yes, sorry to bring that up again, I know some of you don’t like that) continues in the digital sphere (see Inside Higher Ed: Twitter’s Gender Imbalance). Male-identifying accounts get many more followers than obviously female-identifying ones, etc. That’s why I wanted to use this bot as an opportunity to prompt for users to nominate female accounts to follow or DH projects focusing on gender, etc. I thought we might want to use
#WomenAlsoKnowDH and the like.
Also, especially given the recent “European DH is different from US DH – European DH ignore lots of diversity in DH” argument on Twitter, I thought it might be nice to include prompts to nominate scholars and projects from “diversity corners” which might otherwise not be that visible in certain filter bubbles. I thought
#DHDiversity might be a nice hashtag to use – but maybe you have something better (please let me know!). This could be a place to promote Black DH or also LGBTQ+ DH.
As I have configured it now, the bot should post a random prompt every day of the week from a list of weekday-related posts.
#DHDiversity appears as part of and
#WomenofDH appear on Wednesday and
#FemaleFriday. If you have any more suggestions for prompts (the ones I have now will probably get old after a few weeks 😉 ), please let me know! However, the way it is configured now, it’s possible there are weeks where none of these nomination prompts show up. Not sure whether that’s good or bad. Let me know what you think!
How does it work?
I’m putting this at the very bottom of the post because it’s really not my idea – the concept was developed for #100daysofCode first and has then been adapted to many other endeavours (the 100daysofX challenges).
The 100 days of Code rules are the following (only two):
Two Main Rules
- Code minimum an hour every day for the next 100 days.
- Tweet your progress every day with the
The 100 days of X rules (three) are those:
- Work on your habit for minimum an hour every day for the next 100 days*
- Tweet your progress every day with the
#100DaysOfXhashtag and the hashtag of your chosen challenge
- Encourage/help at least 2 people in the challenge every day
- [extra rule] Never miss two days in a row (or you won’t stick with it).
*Note that everybody’s situation is different. You can adjust the rules for your challenge to fit your life and responsibilities. The most common adjustment people make is changing the daily minimum of time for the habit.
Since this is essentially a 100 days of X challenge, I think it would be best to stick with those three rules and add number 4 which I have found somewhere on the internet. From my own failures going through with these challenges so far, I can assure you that rule 4 is essential. However, if you don’t have an hour a day, make it what you can spare. If you don’t want to tweet, don’t. I didn’t want to do it because I don’t like sharing lots of private info on social media. Although I have to say from my own experience, I never went through with one of those challenges 😀 I started many times but always quit. The accountability that comes with tweeting progress publicly might be just what you need to go through with it for 100 days. That’s a really long time, after all. (Also, make sure you set concrete goals for what you’d like to achieve or you’ll run out of things to do at some point. 100 days are enough for a meaningful project. Maybe it’s finishing the master’s thesis or getting some writing done for your PhD thesis).
Setting yourself up for success
How do you set yourself up for success in such a long-term challenge? 100 days, after all, is a relatively long time to commit for. You could shorten the time period and do a 30-day trial first, of course. You should definitely respect rule 4 (“never miss two days in a row”) so you don’t lose momentum. Another way I would recommend is that set yourself up for success by planning for failure. That means you need to have a system in place which you can use should the day come where you really don’t want to put in that one hour (or the amount you committed to doing). Or a day where you truly don’t have the time due to other commitments. Which is understandable and totally ok. And believe me, this day will come in the forseeable future. Demovitation and procrastination usually strike earlier than you think and they will strike, believe me.
So what can we do? I’d suggest you decide on a mini-habit you can do instead of doing the whole challenge. A mini-habit (sometimes referred to as Kai-Zen) is a habit that’s so ridiculously easy that failing is out of the question, such as doing one pushup (the original example given by Stephen Guise, the author of Mini Habits). By reducing the task to its essence, you eliminate the need for willpower and motivation.
Accordingly, for days where you can’t bring yourself to do the challenge, you could decide to web-search one relevant term and read one of the resulting pages for 1 minute. You could write one sentence if your goal is to get some DH-related writing done; or you could commit to editing one single sentence. You could write one line of code. Reducing friction like this can help you get started and once the initial hurdle of activation energy is taken, you often have enough momentum that you keep going for much longer. That’s one reason such a mini-habit makes sense. But they also can help in the way that you don’t end up with a week of doing nothing and then having to start from scratch all over again (forgetting what it is you were doing before that break). If you still don’t feel like continuing after you’ve mustered the activation energy and got started, it’s ok to take a break day and stop after the mini habit is done. You need to push yourself a little bit (i.e. do something at least) but it’s important you don’t burn yourself out early on, especially if you’re doing this challenge on top of your daily work in your free time. Most importantly, don’t let yourself feel guilty if you can’t make it one day – it has been shown that the vicious cycle of procrastination is fueled mostly by guilt, so forgive yourself if you need a day off. It’s just a challenge, not the end of the world.
Stakes and accountability buddies
Like I mentioned before, the tweeting isn’t only meant to foster community, it also provides what Tim Ferriss calls ‘stakes’ and ‘accountability buddies’, meaning that you’re more likely to follow through with your goals if there is an actual loss linked to not doing it (such as betting money on your own success on sites like stickk.com) or loss of reputation (such as telling everybody you’ll do the challenge making it somewhat embarrassing to not follow through with it). So this was also one not-totally-selfless part of why I started this challenge 😉 Having to post your progress daily means that you actually have to put in the work daily 😉
Join the challenge!
PS: Have you done any of the 100 days of X challenge? What were your experiences? What tools did you use to keep going when the going got rough?
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