Learning the Digital Humanities

In English 340 we have been collectively discussing the digital humanities. Some topics we have touched on have been the transformation or development of language, the technological influences over our communication and specifically how our communication has many different means of channels. Prior to coming into this course, my view of the relationship between computers and humanities was not nearly as strong, developed, and thoughtful as it is now being four weeks into this class. I often thought of the two as entirely separate happenings. Having taken a humanities course that related to nothing in the technological world but rather the development and analytics of cultural and societal aspects did not help connect the two, but only distinguish them from one another. Before reading some chapters of the book, The Information, I thought of the connection between computers and humanities from a vague and broad perspective. That being said, the only connection I had thought of involved how people have grown to be dependent on computers or technology in general. Computers are put at our fingertips, I mean literally in handheld devices that seem to barely leave our hands. That being said, the relationship that we have with them is a strong one as it seems as though they have been ingrained as routine in our everyday lives. Coming into this course, computers and the humanities were barely connected. The only ways I thought of, and not necessarily thought of in relation to one another, was the use of media and different ways of coming of information and sending messages (basically the technological influence on the world). Being in this course, I have learned so far that the digital humanities is so much more than that. It conveys a much bigger idea of the development of this digital and humanities connected world we live in. This class has been knowledgeable in portraying the development of the language we so very speak and further analyzing how this impacts our everyday lives.

Coming into this course, I have to admit I was nervous. I cannot say that I was truly confident in my technological abilities, and I still cannot say that at this moment. The truth is, I am learning something new every day that is a little out of my comfort zone with technology. I came into class knowing very basic computer skills. Yet these computer skills seem to get me through the modern day just fine. The skills I brought with me into this class include using different browsers, imports, exports and downloads or converting documents were ones that I quickly learned are definitely below average in computing skills. However, with these skills, I have always felt as I can hold my own when it comes to general aspects of technology (you know, I feel like a genius when explaining things to my Grandma). Yet, this class has brought me to realize how behind I am with the understanding of general computing. I have never even heard of the software, coding, and markdowns we use. Through the beginning weeks of this class, I have gotten more comfortable coming out of my comfort zone with the digital humanities. I have learned some very cool aspects that I did not know of before like coding, atom, html, and virtualbox. One area of weakness I can identify for myself is potentially trying too hard to keep up. I sometimes feel like I will miss something simple because I am focusing so hard on every individual step to make sure I do it right. For example, two weeks ago I copied something from google docs into a discussion post and noticed the format was funky. Later realizing avoiding that issue was simple. I now know other techniques like markdowns in atom, creating links to pictures, italicizing, and even create emojis simply by typing in a code. Some other things I learned about, through my peers, were different programs and apps that are useful in everyday digital life. One thing I really am enjoying is the book, The Information. Learning about how communication, messaging, and information has grown over time and the processes of different cultures and ways of communicating has been so intriguing.

My relationship with my computer coming into this course is definitely one considered a “love/hate” relationship. I often beat myself up because I know my MacBook is capable of such cool features that I have not taken the time to learn about. Spending so much money on this computer only to use the basic functions of it seems as if I am doing a disservice. The only functions I use my computer for are mostly schoolwork and leisure. I am your average user of Microsoft, google drive, PowerPoints, Netflix, and social media on my electronic device. Through this class, I am happy to be learning more functions and use of my computer because I have never used programs like we are. However, that speaks to the fact that my relationship with my computer coming into the course was not really a strong one as I never really understood complex concepts of coding and other computer science aspects that we continue to learn in this course.

To conclude this reflection, I want to quote Dr. Schacht when he stated, “A huge part of doing something is being willing to devote the time and developing some expertise on finding information on the web by either the product itself or the community of people who use it.” I feel as though this is such an empowering message as we continue through this course to keep in the back of our minds.  Everything we need to know, we can essentially figure out. So, folks, that is my push for everyone, if you seem to be having trouble with something! Reach out to people, do some research to help you find what you are looking for, and with this you will begin to better yourself as an information technologist!

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