My Machine and I

I had never considered that Digital Humanities can act as a link between computing and the study of human culture. I’ve developed an array of computation skills over my lifetime and they have helped me find a platform to express myself, and also see the ways that others have expressed themselves. Our machines provide a means for us to access any kind of information we choose; whether it be a paper, photograph, or a song. All of these materials that exist online have been created by an individual who intends to document their personal human thoughts, relations, and feelings, and I love producing and sharing the forms of documentation that I have personally created; whether it is posting a picture on Instagram, or sharing a short story that I wrote on my blog. It is powerful and meaningful to be able to contribute to the collection of culture that exists online and to add to the mediums that help us study the human experience through our past, previous, and future selves. I have now become aware that Humanities enables us to understand others through their languages, histories and cultures, and it adds a dimension of questioning and deep thinking as we attempt to decipher the world around us.
While I do not have much prior knowledge about computing, I know that computers are very effective tools for research, recreation, and socialization. Computers are machines that allow us to access a seemingly infinite amount of information, which is crucial for discovering and developing new ideas. This is an essential tool for students, including me, but the appeal of computers extends far beyond academics. Computers are taking over. Not literally, but they are so widely available in the United States that it is difficult to avoid incorporating them into daily life. I don’t remember a time in my life where I was without a computer, quite honestly. Computers provide numerous ways of relaxing because they harness the power to play movies, television shows, and video games (or e-books, which are totally better, just saying). Finally, through communication technology such as social media and messaging services, computers allow us to stay connected to friends and family all across the globe. When I miss my family and my friends, they are just one Skype call away. This would have been practically unthinkable one hundred years ago, but today, the ability to instantly interact with people hundreds or even thousands of miles away has become accepted as the norm. Plus, the role of computers is immensely important even beyond my daily life, as governments and corporations rely on the power of computers to perform many of their administrative functions.
As a college student, my computer fills a critical niche in my daily life. I consider my computer to be an extension of myself, and aside from the fact that I rarely go anywhere without it; I use it to send emails, complete assignments, and compile research. My machine allows me to easily gather all the information that I may need for an assignment, and many professors assign online only work. Having my own computer is a lifesaver, as I always have access to it, which makes it rare to have to rely on a library computer or a friend’s. I am very aware of the fact that if I were to lose this computer, I would lose a vital part of my everyday world. When I need to unwind on the weekend or after a long day of class, I immediately make a beeline for my computer. My friends are always available for FaceTime or iMessage and my favorite shows are always on Netflix. My computer feeds into my online shopping addiction, and I have gained so much appreciation for online ordering and Amazon since coming to Geneseo. Personally, I have taken many of the functions that my computer can perform for granted. It is easy to type a paper on Google Docs and use the italics and bold buttons. However, it takes time to learn how to use markdown language, and insert the same commands yourself. It seems simple enough to create a journal on Microsoft Word or Pages, but it is extraordinarily different to keep a journal in Atom, a plain text editor, where specific functions are no longer automatic. I am thoroughly enjoying learning more about the machine that does so much for me. I think it is fair to say that my computer is an absolutely essential component of my life, and while it’s something that I can survive without, its absence would make life a lot more difficult.

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