A Change of Scenery

Til ills fóru vér um góð héruð, er vér skulum byggja útnes þetta.

“It’s no good for us to travel over good land, only to dwell on this remote headland.”


In 874, Ingólfur Arnarson sailed away from his home in Norway and started the first long-term Scandinavian settlement in Iceland. In an effort to escape the increasing centralized authority under King Harold Fair-Hair, a generation of Ingólfur’s countrymen followed suit and settled Iceland, where they farmed as they had in their homeland and launched Viking raids in Scotland and Northern England.

Last summer, I took a JavaScript course to facilitate a digital edition of a medieval text I was working on. By the conclusion of the course, I had developed a front-end application that allows readers to view multiple versions of the same text at the same time.

It was an eye-opening experience: I loved it. I loved writing the code. I loved the problems that came up, and I loved solving them. I also loved how coding exercised the same mental muscles as the work I did as a researcher of medieval language and literature.

This spring, I left academia and struck out into unknown territory of my own: I decided to become a web developer. Having just finished New York Code + Design Academy’s intensive summer course, I can say that the more I learn about programming, the more I like it. As I finish up the class, I have been thinking about the excitement and trepidation Ingólfur must have felt as he set out for a new land. Though my own adventure is hardly a voyage across the North Atlantic in a rowboat, I am also excited to be embarking into new territory where I can apply the skills I cultivated in academia—and where there is always opportunity for learning and discovery.

All content on this site is copyright © 2015 by William E. Bolton, PhD.