Through following some of the scholars of the digital humanities on twitter, I came across some articles this past week that helped me further my understand of the topics we study in class. Both articles discussed technology’s impact on the humanities.
It best fit with the discussion of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and our discussion of copyright and ownership and the difficultly that occurred in the 19th century for authors such as Stowe. It also fit with our discussion of Walden and his thoughts on possessions and what that really means and their costs. The various articles helped to show me that some of the same issues authors in the 19th century dealt with are still concepts we struggle with today.
An article twetted, “iPass away – do my digital downloads die with me?” revealed that while technology evolves, our laws and ideas about it don’t always keep pace. For years our society and legal system has dealt with what happens to an individual’s possessions after they pass away. Because of the nature of books, DVDs, and records as physical objects, that is the line along which the system has evolved. When dealing with digital copies of books, there is still gray area. Companies such as Amazon, and iTunes have struggled to define what the license means when you buy a song or book. It seems to appear that it is not transferable upon death, differing from physical copies. The licenses have been interpreted by lawyers to mean more of renting or use privileges rather than ownership. The implications of this are not fully clear. An individual is able to pass on something such as a iPad/iPod/Kindle, but what, in terms of content, is passed on?
The next article, “Journalism Jobs Robo-Sourced” discusses the switch from print to online journalism to something new. A company from Illinois called Narrative Science developed some algorithms and software to somewhat try and replace journalists. Often articles discussing real estate, finance, sports, and polling are data or stat heavy. This company uses their algorithms and software to “crunch” data into articles. Here is an example:
“Newt Gingrich received the largest increase in tweets about him today. Twitter activity associated with the candidate has shot up since yesterday, with most users tweeting about taxes and character issues. Newt Gingrich has been consistently popular on Twitter, as he has been the top riser on the site for the last four days. Conversely, the number of tweets about Ron Paul has dropped in the past 24 hours. Another traffic loser was Rick Santorum, who has also seen tweets about him fall off a bit.”
The company “humanized” that short article by injecting various concepts and catchphrases into the software to help the articles flow. Some of those concepts include the software analyzing the most important element of the data and putting that as the articles first paragraph. For many, this idea is scary, and for other they see as the solution for journalist’s pain with creating certain tedious articles. Some of those articles include stat heavy sports and politics articles. This was named as one of the top 25 ideas for 2012 by Wired.
These articles help to show the continuous process of technology and the impact on things such as books and journalism. It shows often as fast as problems become solved by technology, new problem can arise through technology. As Stowe’s society and legal systems were confused with newly increased international trade and its impact, our society is still sorting out new technology’s impact on our society and legal system.
Halverson, N. (2012, February 21). Journalism Jobs Robo-Sourced. Discovery News. Retrieved February 21, 2012, from http://news.discovery.com/tech/future-journalism-project-120221.html
Parris, R. (2012, February 20). Can you pass on your downloads after you die?. Which? Conversation. Retrieved February 21, 2012, from http://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/digital-download-legal-rights-after-death-amazon-itunes-apple/