There’s a post on ProfHacker called “Airplane mode vs No Bars”(hey, follow this!) . I found it pretty interesting, and an excellent metaphor for my life in the last 2 months of my college life. The blogger (we’ll assume its a ‘he’) writes about how he can set his phone to “airplane mode”, which allows him shut off communication while still allowing for ‘offline’ work to be done. This is described as ‘focus’ time; still working but not as distracted. the “no bars” part is when he has to focus completely. The metaphor gets deeper when he compares “airplane mode” to being completely focused on the work at hand and “no bars” to being completely exhausted and no able to do anything at all.
I feel like these last two months have consisted/will consist of me (and my fellow seniors) being eternally trapped between airplane mode and no bars mode, and it seems the only time I’m on airplane mode is when there’s coffee involved. I find it a little funny how our lives can often be compared to an iPhone…with apps, settings, limited hard drives, and the ability to be jailbroken…It just makes me wonder if we students will be forever trapped between no bars and airplane mode.
I just wanted to take a moment and reflect in this blog post about my experience with T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland.” I cannot even express to you how lost I felt when reading the poem on my own. Admittedly, I had to turn to the Internet for some guidance. Although I have taken several English courses throughout my high school and college career, I don’t think I have ever come across any poems written by Eliot. Through our class discussion and during my reflection afterward is when I realized just how metaphorical yet powerful Eliot is in his writing. I agreed with all of the words that were brought up in class today, especially the fact that Eliot’s writing is very sporadic, scattered, random, complicated, as well as confusing. Despite the confusing nature of Eliot, I am a fan of his writing style and the messages that come through in his writing. I really liked how the poem was broken up into sections and found it particularly curious, as mentioned today in class, that the “heart” or the center of the poem is located directly in the middle as well as with it being the shortest section.
Furthermore, upon reading the poem the first time before our class discussion I was very naiive in reading and did not pick up on the plethora of external as well as internal links that Eliot makes reference to. I am fortunate that we were able to discuss that in class today because that, alone, brings a lot to the surface of this poem and reflects on the overall message or theme that Eliot was trying to portray to the readers. I also believe that there was something behind the fact that Eliot is very multi-lingual in his writing of this poem, especially given the time period that it was written in. It is sometimes necessary to make the parallels between an author’s context as well as the history of the time period that he/she was writing in. If confused about the context, like I was before our class discussion, it usually helps to look more into the author as well as the time period. This was also evident as many of us saw when attempting to read Whitman earlier this semester.
I find myself, as we read the assigned texts for class discussions, trying to make parallels between what we are reading and digital humanities. I did some research, and I came across a project done by Touch Press LLP and Faber and Faber in which they have digitized Eliot’s “The Waste Land” by making an app for it on the iPad. There is also commentary that can be read on the side of the poem. After some investigating of this project I realized how exciting this project was for the creators as well as for the field of digital humanities, itself. So anyone with an iPad that enjoyed the poem should check out the app!
While providing blog posts over the semester, I have found that I have tried to answer questions that come up in my mind about whatever we were talking about during that week. I usually grabbed one or two ideas from the overall themes that were discussed and dove as deeply as I could into those areas, uncovering all the pertinent information. Although my posts lacked having solid sources I wrote from my own experiences and put the ideas into my perspective, this is how I came to understand a lot of what we discussed in the classroom. There are however some posts that Discuss DH in a broad sense, during these posts I am trying to distinguish where DH has come from and where it might be heading in the future. For example:
“Participating in this project has given me much more confidence in the class that I am in and has shed new light on the DH field that was before hidden in the shadows of my doubt toward a subject matter that I knew little about. I can not wait to keep working on the final project and see where it can take me in the growing world of DH.”
While talking about my project on Civil War Washington I pulled apart my project, but also tried to show my lack of knowledge towards DH when I came into the class, what I have learned to date, and where DH as a whole will be heading in the future.
In other posts I took one specific class period and pulled the topic apart according to how I deciphered the information, such as in this post about HTML:
“I thought our guest speaker did a great job familiarizing us with HTML and showing us the basics. She walked us all through the things that will be our foundation when using this program in the future (if we need it). This class is bring about many firsts for me in ways that seem simple, but are making a huge difference in the way I am learning this new material. From the change of classrooms, to things like beaming in a guest speaker that will be teaching the class for the whole hour. Its incredible the use of resources that Dr. Cordell has at his disposal and is willing to bring into our class and share with us.
HTML is a valuable tool to have with us when working with text, but I cannot wait until we learn the next best thing.”
Since I have started blogging in this class I have noticed how much I rely on getting on the website and reviewing ideas we have covered as well as putting in my two cents on the topic matter. If was to give myself myself a grade on the blog posts up to this point, I would give myself an “A”. I believe that I have taken the material taught and put my own thoughts into the topic.
When I was reviewing my posts, I could see how the focus of my posts changed. In the early semester, my posts are mostly focus on in class content, or close relate to what we were doing in class. For example, while we watched the video “The Machine is Us/ing Us”, I was very interested in that topic, so I wrote a post for my thoughts about that video. Then, as we were studying the programming language “html”, I felt I should benefit my classmates because of my computer science background, so I introduced a nice HTML Tutorial Website in my post. Lately, after the Social Media was finished, the focus of my posts moved to content outside class; many of my posts are then focusing on the twitter and blogs that I follow. For example, @HASTAC has tweet about how to preserving the online works, I thought there are some interesting ideas, so I quoted it and wrote a post. I also saw a very interesting article “The Prison-House of Data” on the 4Humanities forum, so I made a post for it, too.
The English in my posts is not very nice in teams of grammar and wording, because English is not my first language. For the design of my posts, I usually start with introducing the topic I would talk about, then quote some information from the original article and analysis them. And then, put everything together and explain my thoughts about that topic, I may also refer to another interesting resource that grew my thoughts sometimes. One way to improve the quality of my posts is using the writing center. The writing center is, as I experienced, very helpful to correct my grammar and choose the words.
Overall, I like this class and my posts. I had another English class, which required weekly journal. But the journal is kind of private, the post is a way different thing; I write it and people can read it right the way, and even make a comment. The thing has been changed a lot for “publication”, now everyone can publish something to everyone else (not really, internet and pc are still required, and have to follow the law). This is something people cannot image 20 years ago, and this is the power of technology. I do enjoy share my words with people on the internet.
Infographics, or information graphics is defined by Wikipedia as “graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics present complex information quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education. With an information graphic, computer scientists, mathematicians, and statisticians develop and communicate concepts using a single symbol to process information.” I wanted to find an exact definition for the word, because I’ve heard it thrown around with more and more frequency. I always took it as a fancy way to say, “I have an interactive graph to represent my data,” but this doesn’t tell the whole story. Technology has made these information graphics completely customizable and tailored to your specific data, if you have the technological know-how. The blog, flowing data by Nathan Yau, focuses on data visualization has peaked my interest lately with some very interesting interactive maps, some designed by himself, but many are shared from a variety of disciplines. One came from Ben Schmidt, through a map video showing the routes of ships across the world in 1750 and titled “A year of Ships”. The hand-written data itself from the time period would be extremely dull to look at I would imagine. One could spend considerable time reading through the shipping records, and not be able to draw many clear conclusions, compared to what can be done in minutes watching the data in this infographic. This is a prime example of how data can be visualized to make it more interesting. Other uses include driving traffic on your website and creating a branding tool for businesses. If you haven’t already, I suggest checking out Nathan’s blog to see first-hand some the very interesting infographics that he shares.
When analyzing my posts thus far, I hadn’t really realized a pattern that held true for all posts. I noticed I initially started posting about what was happening in the classroom sessions, instead of posting about what had interested me recently. I had a difficult time finding topics outside of what the classroom time allotted as I had absolutely no free time to ‘browse the web’ and find things that interested me. The first few posts were basically thoughts that came to mind while studying the classroom material. I noticed I soon began to find connections to our classroom material and my other studies. For example, the post is have about “text the way it was meant to be used” gently touched on the idea of copyrighting (in reference to the copyright of fashion TED talk we watched). This is relevant to my design studies as there is an EXTREMELY fine line between stolen art and ‘inspired’ art. My theory is that everything art is stolen, it is drawn from something that existed before. My next post titled “Walden” basically touched on how much of a jerk I thought Thoreau was, and how it was pretty hypocritical of him to judge society as a whole from a very high social standpoint. I find there are many people like this in my life, and I noticed I began to shift from just discussing the text to being critical towards it; I didn’t feel as if i had to praise everything we did.
The themes of the early posts were basically an on-going mental question I had towards digital humanities and technology in general. Is this subject, be it text, tools, etc, being used today the way the creator intended it to be used when he/she made it? As time progressed, I began to more freely write about what interested me in the classroom and related topics, not just what was happening. I began to sense my tone became more casual, and I could sense my sarcasm sneaking in to some parts. I feel as if a reader read my posts, they would feel comfortable and casual about them. There is a writing style that is neat but free-style, well-written but casual, and it is that style of writing that I aim to achieve.
I valued writing about what interested me, but at the same time I hated it. Often times, time was scarce, and I would have almost rather been told ‘here, write 2 paragraphs on this’ instead of whatever I wanted. Looking back, I realize that it forced me to think deeply about the subjects at hand, to criticize and grow to like or dislike the information. I would not have achieved that level of understanding of the material if I had been told to write about a teacher-chosen topic. Towards the end, I found that I was actually really excited about my collaboration project, and I was pretty pumped to write posts about it. If I were grading these posts as a whole, I would grade them well, but perhaps it is because I know that I couldn’t just wing it through them; I actually had to think critically. Perhaps an AB? Now that I have taken a liking towards Processing software and will probably post about it for my last 3 posts, I would give an A, because I would like to think the reader can tell how AWEsome I think the software is, and I want the class to geek out about it as much as I have/will.
Throughout the posts I have written so far, I find there is a pretty even split between posts reflecting class material, lab topics, and material from people I’ve been following. I think it would be fair to say that during the first couple weeks I was stuck in a regurgitation phase where I just repeated and expanded on what we did in class because I felt as if that was how a developing research paper should progress. But as we were introduced to more aspects of digital humanities, it became clear that creativity and being able to express yourself or the work of others weighs heavy when trying to gain interest from others. With that being said, I think it’s fair to say that I, and the rest of the class, found that expressing ourselves and bringing aspects of our lives into our blogs made interacting with others’ blogs push the envelope for what would be considered a traditional research paper. While blogging, I kept the research paper aspect in my head but the more I blogged and read blogs, I started to feel as if the class was doing research for a collaborative research paper, each person bringing something to the table each week to get the rest of the class thinking.
After reading over my posts again it was clear that I valued the opportunity to bring things relating to our class topics from my life into the blog. I made the relation between Henry David Thoreau and one of my favorite artists Bon Iver and how their success came from similar situations. After we explored data mining in lab I wrote about Steven Colbert using word clouds on his show and how topics we were talking about in class were being incorporated in our everyday life. For me, it is recognizing and expressing these relationships that has made me interested in digital humanities. In the first couple blogs I talked about how shocking it was to realize that this field actually existed and now to see it in places where I hadn’t previously seen it is pretty neat.
Overall, trying to give myself a grade on this assignment is a tricky task considering that the prompt was descriptive but still allowed for personal deviance. I feel like an assignment such as this is one that does not have a strict rubric to follow, but one that tries to encourage a student’s creativity upon contributing relevant material to the blog. If am I anywhere near correct with that statement, I would think it is fair to give myself and AB on my blog posts. My posts mostly involved outside content with direct relation to what was going on in class that week and ultimately that was goal of blogging each week. The whole blog scene was definitely new for me and to be honest it was quite an awkward experience at first. To be completely honest, I had a minor prejudice against blogging because I can’t stand soap box lecturers and pity party planners but after submitting a few and reading some others, the purpose of blogging became clear and I am grateful to have/ have had this experience.
My favorite part of this class was signing up for Twitter. I would have never of thought I would enjoy it so much but to be honest, I use it almost more than Facebook. The highlight of this semester was definitely getting a tweet from Chad Ochocinco. It just shows how the digital world can bring so many people together. Who would have thought a football super star (yes I said it) would tweet some kid from Green Bay, Wisconsin.
So far in this class, I have posted eight blogs. In the beginning, I blogged about something we read/discussed in class. However, lately, I have been relating my blogs more towards tweets and real life experiences that I have encountered dealing with digital humanities. For example, I wrote about my spring break vacation to Colorado when I tried to live like Thoreau. Overall it went pretty well and I thought I did a pretty good job. However, about a week ago, my computer crashed and it wouldn’t even turn on. It was horrible and I feared the worse. Through this, I realized that it is A LOT harder to live like Thoreau when you can’t actually use the technology. I didn’t have a problem in Colorado because the technology was still always close to me, I just didn’t use it. This experience was a lot worse and made me realize I could never live like Thoreau.
Going back and reading the actual description of what our blogs are suppose to be like; I realized I have strayed a lot. It describes our blogs as being an “evolving research paper” which I have no done at all. In the beginning, my blogs were a lot more specific and seemed like I was trying to write a paper, however, lately I have been having fun with them which makes my blog not only fun for me to write, but for others to enjoy reading (I hope).
After each blog post, I have gained more and more respect for what digital humanities actually is. In the beginning of the semester, I had no clue, now I understand a lot of the tweets/blogs I read and I have a great basic understanding of digital humanities. Because of this, I would give my blogs and AB. I still have a lot of work to do (I am by no means a great writer) however, I have enjoyed writing mine and reading/commenting on others.
During our semester, I have been most closely interested in technological innovations and how that changes society, affecting things such as intellectual property. This has been reflected within my blog posts. A condensed version of the themes for some posts:
1) Social and Cultural Aspects of Uncle Tom’s Cabin
- How DH project can be a resource for studying DH themes with things like Uncle Tom’s Cabin (my post focused on copyright laws and public themes during books publication time period)
2) Technologies Impact on the Legal System
- Digital media and copyright difficulties
- Physical media versus Digital media ownership rights
3) Broadening Carr’s Discussion: Technologies Impact on Sleeping Patterns
- Direct impact of technology of the life style of humans
- Development in technology changed sleeping patterns for humans
4) Orphan WorksInternet impact on publish ease and affects on copyright
- Ability to use technology to preserve (struggle between copyright laws and digitalization)
5) Youtube and Copyright
- Effect of Technological develop on media and the complications it can cause (in specific to our copyright system)
- Demonstrating use of new DH tools
- Develops a study of the English language and its developmen (tlife span of words and growth rate)
- Technological Innovations with a focus on fundraising online for DH projects
- Allowing DH scholars to put to use many of the new tools
Generally, my posts have analyzed technological invocation’s affect on society (frequently looking at copyright laws) and utilizing various DH tools and how they can be an aid. In one of my posts I commented:
“It shows often as fast as problems become solved by technology, new problem can arise through technology.”
This comment was made in reference to the slow pace of the legal system in adjusting to society’s technological advancements. I believe this is an important idea that underlined many of the different posts I wrote on. With many of my posts reflecting on this, I think a reader could easily figure out that I have an interest in law.
Throughout the system the types of posts I have written have developed. In the beginning most of my posts were broad reflections on some of the DH’s basic themes. However, as the semester moved on, and I became more familiar with DH, the focus of my posts became more specific. What I think is the most significant point is that the basic themes I highlighted in the beginning becoming the point of closer reflection in later posts.
Looking towards my grade evaluation I think it’s important to look at how close I met the syllabus expectations. The blog posts are meant to be seen as an evolving research paper. With the themes I have written on, I believe my blog posts have worked as this. They have thoroughly reflected on class discussion and brought in outside sources from scholarly social media feeds. Through these reflections I believe I have demonstrated an understanding of course material.