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Thoreau argues that philosophizing is different than doing, and I can’t agree more. One of my good friends is a Philosophy major. He and I would often get in a debate about how useful philosophy is when applying it to a job or the real world. Well, he would usually win the actual debate because he could construct an argument on the spot better than I could, but I still believe that you really need to intertwine experiencing with philosophizing. It goes back to the idea that in the midst of our busy lives, it’s critical to sit back and think about what we’re doing. We need to take breaks to maintain our focus and reset our goals.
The idea of balancing experience and learning also applies in this class! Just like with this Social Media paper we’ve been working on–we would be clueless if we just learned about what “tweets” were, or read about certain professors that study and teach digital humanities. Instead, we get to dive in on our own! Both in class, with professors beaming in, and independently surfing the web and twitter with what specifically interests us. Now for the philosophizing or learning part…applying what we’ve learned and writing that darn paper.
I was attempting to write the upcoming social media engagement paper when I decided to take a quick break and browse twitter. While browsing twitter for relevant examples of what influenced me the most I came upon a link to a blog post entitled, “On Blogging in the Digital Humanities” by Micheal Ullyot. That reminded me that I need to blog! So here we are and yes… this rambling does have a point.
Regarding Monday’s discussion, I disagree with most of the class and find myself at least mildly agreeing with the skeptics. You may be able to “multi-task” but there is no way that you can accomplish things that require deep processing simultaneously. Attention is like a pool of resources and it is not never-ending. For example, I can drive and sing a song at the same time. I cannot do calculus while someone reads Walden and retain that information. So if you take the middle ground and say that you can do moderate academic exercises such as blogging about digital humanities while watching television and talking to a friend, I would have to agree. Yes, you can do all of that at once but you will perform much poorer than if you could attenuate your resources to a single thing. Your blog may not be as coherent, your conversation will be devoid of active listening and you will have holes in your memory about the TV. See… there goes my faulty attention span, back to the article about blogging.
Michael Ullyot gives a couple reasons why blogging is important. One is that blogging circulates ideas in progress. While I agree with Ullyot on this it left me thinking, aren’t ALL ideas ALWAYS in progress? A couple other reasons are because this field moves quickly and academic publishing is slow followed by the collaborative nature of DH projects. I can understand the aforementioned reasons as to why blogging may be preferable but there were a few others that I tend to disagree with. One in particular is that before blogging one would have to develop a project in isolation, present it at conferences with a few experts then possibly publish a year or two later. With blogging and other technologies Ullyot points out that, “Now a DH scholar can publish her questions, ideas, and methodology the moment she conjures them up, and distribute the audio file of her talk to a conference or small audience the moment she delivers it”. Now this seems like a negative thing to me in some aspects because well thought out research takes time. Quality takes time. There is no reason to rush these things unless Carr is right and our attention spans have started to degrade.
Michael Ullyot ”On Blogging in the Digital Humanities” http://ullyot.ucalgaryblogs.ca/2012/02/24/on-blogging-in-the-digital-humanities/
It’s been awhile since I have been on here, so I have some catching up to do. My first thoughts go to our discussion in today’s class. When I was reading Walden on my own I did find him to be contradictory, and it actually irritated me a lot. After discussing this point in class today I still find it a round-about way that makes him seem pretentious to me. I felt like he was not quite making his point, because he was so busy being “clever.” Not being able to read something direct from him, I can only speculate as to how I would feel about that approach. That being said, discussing some of HDT’s contradictions in class did help to make the reading clear for me. His contradictions–now making sense–did seem appropriate, and has me thinking that maybe his intention was to be thought provoking to society. To hold the mirror up for us to look into. To questions the decisions that we have made, and to lead us away from generalizations and group-think mentality.
Now that that rant is out of the way, I have to comment on a blog post that I am subscribed to. The blog post, Digital Humanities and the Archives: Economics and Sustainability, was interesting to me and grabbed my attention for a few reasons. 1. Being a business major, the topic was interesting to me, and 2. I wanted to know what digital humanities had to do with economics and sustainability. The author, Eleanor Shevlin, lists the economic issues as: funds and time to travel to archives. “While travel expenses remain legitimate needs today, access to commercial subscription databases, funds to support one’s own digital projects, and the feasibility of embarking on such a project for pre-tenured scholars have emerged as pressing economic concerns.” I don’t know why, but this is not what I expected this blog post to be about. I expected a lot more technical economic terms being thrown around, and more about how digital humanities will sustain economics. I don’t know why, but after reading the post I have to say it was actually interesting. It had a lot more to do with the consequences of not sustaining digital archives and the economic consequences of not sustaining them.
(I’m starting to think that I’m not getting the point of the things I have been reading lately . . . hmmmm . . . maybe there’s something to the merit of the readings and the video from our discussion last Friday.)
Carr in his article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid” writes about how we are losing the ability to pay attention. So many people today are doing a million things at once and have trouble concentrating on what people are saying to them and doing just one task. Sometimes we think we are talking to someone but they are not paying attention to us at all. They could be playing with their phone, surfing the web, thinking about other things, etc. People today can multi-task effectively but most people cannot concentrate on one thing very well.
He also writes about how people today for the most part do not like to read. Most people today only want to read things that have pictures or are short. With the immersion of emailing, texting, and the expansion of the internet people now want main ideas and things that get to the point. When we want an answer we Google it. As someone mentioned in class, many people in our generation have grown up “searching” for answers rather than just simply reading and coming across them. People don’t want to discover more than what they are searching for. We have become very impatient. In today’s society there continues to be more and more things that save time because the makers of these products know people have such limited time. With increased work hours, increased people getting college education and so many co-curricular activities, people usually do not like to spend the limited time they have reading. Television and the internet have very much taken away from reading. We are able to listen to the television and do multiple other things at the same time, allowing us to find out what is going on in society without having to take away from other things we are doing. The internet as discussed in class really gives us the opportunity to find out what we are looking for and allows us to multitask. For example, we could be writing a paper while checking out Facebook.
I feel it is probably not a good thing that people are no longer as good at paying attention or reading. However, this I feel has made us better at multi-tasking and caused us to become well at managing time. With the immersion of all of the new technologies, we have lost some of the skills that people in the past had but we also have picked up other skills. I believe our society is definitely capable of paying attention and reading but it just takes a lot more concentration and focus. Sometimes we really need to force ourselves to get ourselves to do these things.
When we were high school students, and even as college students now, we have endless tasks to get done. We have papers to get done, tests to study for, emails to send, bills to pay, jobs to go to, and blog posts to write! You might be tempted to try to accomplish more than one of these tasks at once, thinking that this will allow you to be more efficient. For the most part, this is not the case!
Multitasking is simply switching your mindset back and forth between subjects quickly, not focusing on two or more things at once. Your brain cannot truly comprehend both information sources in full at the same time, especially if they are different subjects. It is much more efficient to work on one task at a time. This allows you to use all of your brainpower on it, which produces higher quality work.
When I’m talking on the phone, I try not to do anything else. I’ve found that if I’m trying to read an article and talk on the phone at the same time, I’m either not truly reading or I’m not really listening to what the caller has to say. I’m aware that they are talking, but I wouldn’t be able to repeat much of what they said. This goes the same for homework. If I really want to do quality work on a problem or a paper, I don’t try to do anything else at the same time.
I’m not the only one who has the opinion. Here are some articles about “multitasking” that I used to expand upon my opinion, and find better wording for what I wanted to say:
This topic sparked some heated discussion during class. I wanted to input more about the subject here. Some people of our generation may claim that this is something that they pride themselves in, but it may be something that is actually hurting their productivity. The articles are definitely worth the read.
Before this class started I never had a Twitter account. Now, since the first day of class, I check it everyday. I started following all these athletes I liked and famous people in general. However, after about the first week or two I had to delete them because they post so damn much. Chad Ochocinco is really the only athlete I still follow and besides him tweeting back to all his followers, he posts some pretty interesting stuff. I also wake up every morning and check my Facebook account to see what has all happened since the last time I logged on (and yes, unfortunately, I do check it more than just one time a day). I do this about a lot of websites, including funny sites like TheChive and photography sites like 500px. I find it stimulating to see what it going on all around me and to be honest, I think thats todays norm.
So what is “attention”? Is it checking your twitter/facebook while eating while getting ready for the day? According to Carr, our generation is loosing it, but I think we have more of it than ever. I looked up what attention means in the webster dictionary: “A position assumed by a soldier with heels together, body erect, arms at the sides, and eyes to the front —often used as a command” Just kidding! It says: “the act or state of applying the mind to something or a condition of readiness for such attention involving especially a selective narrowing or focusing of consciousness and receptivity”. I think Carr would conclude that humans are only capable of applying the mind to one thing at a time. Our generation however, and it was pretty prevalent in class, disagrees and argues that we are the generation of multitasking. The only question I have about multitasking is yes you get your work done faster/more conveniently but does the quality of it match the quality had you worked on them all separately?
For what its worth, I agree with the majority of the class. I find it easy to multitask. I feel as if our generation is constantly moving and if you are taking a break, you are missing out on something. There is so much content already on the internet that it is impossible in someone’s life to view it all and that content is growing exponentially. So damn it Ochocinco, Retweet me!
I like following Natalia Cicere on twitter because she always posts really interesting articles on any topic that you can imagine.
She retweeted this article:
with the quote “Dear white men of the world: kindly stop telling me flamingly obvious things. It is offensive.”
The title obviously caught my attention so I read the article and was a little surprised. It is by Rebecca Solnit, who is a very intelligent woman and established author. The article is a story about how she and a friend of hers went to this ritzy party in a monstrous log cabin in Aspen hosted by a rather over-confident man who happened to work in advertising and evidently in her opinion, thought he was better than he really was.
She mentions in this story that they were just about to leave when this man stopped them and sat down and started talking to them. It went something like this:
“He kept us waiting while the other guests drifted out into the summer night, and then sat us down at his grainy wood table and said to me, “So? I hear you’ve written a couple of books.”
I replied, “Several, actually.”
He said, in the way you encourage your friend’s 7-year-old to describe flute practice, “And what are they about?”
They were actually about quite a few different things, the six or seven out by then, but I began to speak only of the most recent on that summer day in 2003, my book on Eadweard Muybridge, the annihilation of time and space and the industrialization of everyday life.
He cut me off soon after I mentioned Muybridge. “And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?”
So caught up was I in my assigned role as ingenue that I was perfectly willing to entertain the possibility that another book on the same subject had come out simultaneously and I’d somehow missed it. He was already telling me about the very important book — with that smug look I know so well in a man holding forth, eyes fixed on the fuzzy far horizon of his own authority.”
It turns out that the book he was referring to was actually the book that she in fact wrote. Her friend had to repeat 4 times “THAT’S HER BOOK,” to this man before he finally came out of his self induced macho coma to realize that he wasn’t even listening to her talk.
I found this story hilarious yet, unfair to the good guys at the same time.I agree that there are soooooo many men out there who literally don’t give women the time of day. It’s evident in the workplace, athletics, and just everyday general life. However I do think it has improved from 50 years ago and those over-confident men are few and far in between with the growing dominance of women.
Also, there are plenty of men who do respect women and everything they stand for but we get so caught up in the negative that it’s fogging our perception of the positive, good guys that DO exist! I also think sometimes men come off in a way that we perceive as cocky or over-confident but they don’t perceive themselves that way, or they don’t mean to be that way, its just their personality!
Regardless of your opinion, my point of posting this article was just to say that there are annoying people, but we shouldn’t forget about the good ones too! J
After our class discussion on the Nicholas Carr interview, I felt fairly opinionated based on the response from other students.
First of all, I felt that Carr’s article, Is Google Making Us Stupid?, was quite ironic because he states early on that he cannot read material that is lengthy. However, he follows this statement by expressing the rest of his thoughts in about 28 more paragraphs, after he just stated he couldn’t read much more than FOUR paragraphs, nowadays. Why does he expect his readers to read his whole article if he can’t even read something of that length?
Secondly, I found myself agreeing with the several students that thought Carr was wrong when he said that people could not multitask. Perhaps he is an element of his generation and should not speak for younger (and much different) generations. For my generation, I believe we were taught to think differently, more abstract, so that we are able to absorb more, in terms of quantitatively; even though we may not be able to absorb as much qualitatively. I know, for me personally, I can watch ESPN by listening to what the broadcasters/analysts are saying while reading the bottom ticker, which displays the scores from the previous night. And I am able to retain that the Miami Heat beat the New York Knicks the other night on the ticker, 102-88, while John Anderson announced Ryan Braun won his appeal of a 50 game suspension. I believe that is why I am able to recall so much (useless, to most) information about sports. When people ask me how do you know all of this information, like where Jeremy Lin went to college, my response is simple: “I watch ESPN”; even though those same people watch ESPN, but observe in a much different way. So I believe that our generation is able to multitask in various situations.
I feel that we have been taught differently than other may have been taught in school. The way we read a book is probably different than a 60 year old person may read a book. But whose fault is that? Our generation? Or the generations before us? Or is it everyone’s fault? Or no one’s? I’m interested to hear what other people think about the way our generation is able to comprehend information from text. Perhaps, we are just biased and think that we are not deficient like Carr says we are.
For me, Walden brings back a lot of nostalgic memories of previous philosophy and theology classes. To be simple, it intertwines the two by giving practical philosophical reasoning as well ideas to enlighten your spiritual side. It covers many of the essentials of what every person should consider at some point in their life. In no way am I saying that everyone should move to a cabin in the woods and contemplate the meaning of life, but maybe taking a time out every once in a while to get your feet back on the ground. Sometimes isolation is all someone needs to achieve greatness. Thoreau’s initial motive for going to Walden was to write a book or conduct a “business transaction” with “minimal distractions.” Even though Thoreau didn’t write Walden while staying at the cabin, his encounter of the time he spent there serves as an inspiration to many.
Not only did it work for Thoreau, it worked for artist Justin Vernon of the band Bon Iver. After going through a difficult separation with his band and girl friend, Vernon went to a cabin in northern Wisconsin and lived for an extended period of time. While at the cabin, he was struck with a truly original inspiration that led to him writing his first hit record entitled “For Emma, Forever ago.” The dreary, desolate sounds that came from this album were unlike anything that had ever been heard before. Clearly there was an immense amount of productivity achieved by isolating himself in his cabin. Bon iver recently won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 2012 and Best Alternative Album.
MTV.com recently published an article titled “Bon Iver: Who Is Best New Artist Grammy Winner?” about the recent success of Bon Iver.
Clearly Justin Vernon and Bon Iver’s success continue to spread like wild fire many years after Thoreau lived at Walden and Vernon lived in his father’s cabin. It’s ironic to think something great such as the success of Thoreau and Vernon could come from being isolated in state of minimalism.
After reading the first part of Walden “economy” I was inspired. The fact that he had the nerve to strike out and try something that most people would not even think of shows a desire to understand the world we live in. Not only that, but he also wants to illustrate the benefits of simplified living. When I was reading this I was constantly reminded of the town that I grew up in for eighteen years of my life. My home town is very small and the surrounding area wilderness for miles on end. It would be easy for me to conduct a similar experiment and compare it to the Walden book. When I get a chance to sit and think about these types of situations (living simple) I actually end up having great thoughts on what it would be like. I guess growing up where all there is to do is go outside and run around the woods helps this preconceived notion out.
Looking at the world in terms of Walden, and if more people would have the intestinal fortitude to try living without all the luxuries that the world today provides, I believe the world would untimely be a better place. Do not get me wrong it would be much harder and the structure of the world would again shift dramatically in many facets, but people would be more well rounded in a moral standard, a health standard just to name a few. Everyone today is so focused on the next thing that could make them rich, or the next technology update that they will be able to use to occupy there time. What if people went back to the basics of living? What if people truly cared about the others around them, not only family members and close friends, but just anyone they come into contact with. Instead of looking at how we can get ahead or how we are better then the next, why not look at how we can help one another. I believe all the amenities of this world only help to promote the cut throat aspect everyone sees today.
If Thoreau’s type of thinking were to take action, it would have to be voluntary for sure. Otherwise the human race would only be getting set back many years only to be getting pushed toward the same place we are today. Whenever I go back home and head out to hunting camp, where there is no cell reception, and things take place in an old fashioned manner I feel like I would make it just fine in places like the book describes. I am not sure i could say the same for some of the people of todays society, where some people can not go one hour without checking their Facebook page, or checking their cellphones to see who is sending them a text message.
I Thank Thoreau for the great insight on a life that would at least benefit me.