An Unusual Relationship: Computers and the Humanities

Prior to taking English 340, I never associated computers with the humanities. In most of my classes that have been related to the humanities, I have used sources such as textbooks and the teacher’s notes to gather new information. When it comes to using my computer for classes such as English or History, I typically only write papers or do simple research on it. It is almost unheard of to have a class about the humanities that revolves around using a computer. In fact, most professors expect students to put their computers away during class because they are viewed as more of a distraction than a helpful tool.

English 340 is the first class I have taken in which we have studied the ways computers and other technologies have influenced the humanities. Given that most of the events that are studied in the humanities took place many years ago, computers did not have much of an influence on how the situations played out. I believe this is one of the main reasons why I have never associated computers with the humanities.

Since Kindergarten, I have been taught how to interact with computers. Even though I have been using computers for nearly my entire life, I often wonder how much I truly know about them. During middle school and high school, I had to take courses on how to make better use of my computing skills. When I think back on this, I realize that most of the skills I was taught were very basic and I typically did not learn anything riveting. In fact, most of the times I took a computing course, I was learning information that I had already been taught. During high school, I was required to take four computing courses per year. Two of the courses were about how to use two types of research websites to find information and sources. The other two courses were about two different computer programs that were meant to improve my writing and typing skills. The information taught in these courses was the extent of what I learned about computers before coming to college. In reality, extensive programs and skills should be taught to children at a younger age so that they can gain a better grasp of computer knowledge for the future.

Even though I did not learn much about computers in high school, I had the opportunity to gain knowledge from other sources. The summer before I started college, I interned at an organization called Explore Buffalo. One of my duties was to help organize events that took place throughout the summer. While doing this, I was taught how to use several different programs on my computer that I had never heard of before. By using them, I was able to create marketing posters and plan certain events very quickly. This internship allowed me to realize how much more I could do on my computer than I had previously thought. Learning how to use these programs was very rewarding, but I continued to mainly use my personal computer for the internet, to check my email, and to write essays on Microsoft Word. I still feel as though I only know how to use a small number of computing programs. After recognizing that there are simple things I could do to use my computer in more extensive ways, I gained the desire to learn more about computing.

Once I heard about the Digital Humanities class, I realized that this was my chance to learn more about computing. I decided to enroll in the course because it interested me and I realized that I would gain skills that I could use in my future career. During the first week of class, I recognized that my knowledge of computers had already started to expand. I find it exciting that we are learning how to use programs that I have never heard of before, such as Atom and DigitalBox. The new tricks and shortcuts that we have learned how to use make it easier to interact between several programs on the computer. I look forward to using this new knowledge to become better at using my machine in more ways than I ever thought possible.

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