A Whole New World: The unveiling of the cloak that is my computer screen

These are words.

Here are some more words.

What happens when I do this?
And what about this?

Ceci n’est pas un lien.*

Here is my first blog post.

The above few lines are the result of my messing-around in the Text tab before writing the following post. I intended to delete them before publishing as they were simply meant for practice, but I think they represent my experience in this class as of Week 4 in a way the words I have written do not.


I am amazed at how interested I have become just within the last half year in understanding computers themselves and the process of computing. I have always maintained a somewhat Luddite philosophy towards computers. This is in part due to laziness, and a lack of motivation to open the can of worms that is “the computer sciences.” This ignorant mentality certainly held me back.

But the other part that held me back was a deeper inhibition. It was fear-driven by the phrase: Humans need not apply. I watched this video soon after it was published on Youtube in 2014. I had already had an aversion to computers (partially because I was always the slowest typer in my elementary school computer classes, partially because my parents are old-er, artsy people who viewed nearly any screen-time as unproductive and anti-imaginative), but this video initiated the spiral of my tech-phobia and planted within my mind a seed of cynicism inspired by the plausibility of such a dystopian future as the one this video presents.


As I have been working more and more with my computer within the past few months, the fear is transforming into a high level of respect. Fear is still present, but I can identify it as a fear of the unknown, rather than a fear of the technology itself, which was something I could not separate before; advanced technology and the unknown were synonyms to me for a long time. My computer is not going to bite me, I think I’ve finally learned that. I’ve also learned that whether I like it or not, and I am not decided on that opinion yet, the digital age is here. It is not future, it is now, and I need to hop on this train before I become a helpless victim of the dark unknown that I have feared for so long.

This Class

gave me the push that I needed to begin experimenting with my computer. I’ve started teaching myself html (with the help of this online tutorial), the “install” button is significantly less terrifying now, and the practice of experimentation with my device’s functions is no longer prevented by fear that I will break it. In connection with that last point, the concept of a Virtual Machine is mind-boggling and amazing to me. I can use a Mac operating system on my Windows machine? That’s like being able to order Burger King fries at a McDonald’s — an intangible dream of mine.


This class has everything to do with my future career as a librarian. Questions of one’s computer literacy are always asked now when hiring research librarians. I do not need to have much information on whatever the thing is that I am trying to search for besides a few keywords, but I do need to have information on how to find it, and most of that goes hand in hand with understanding the language of computers. I need to know how the computer conducts its search process in order to choose the correct set of words that will lead me to what I am looking for. I must think like the computer, which is becoming easier now that I am learning the history and fundamentals behind computer language through both Gleik’s The Information and our hands-on class work. As in any conversation, one is more compliant and understanding when being spoken to in their maternal tongue. It just so happens that computers are not compliant or understanding at all unless they are spoken to this way. I thank this class for motivating me to finally adapt to this fact so I can begin uncloaking the mystery behind my screen.


By the time I respond to this post at the end of the semester, I hope to have a greater proficiency in html and a better understanding of what can be done with a VM and why we should want to do these things. But mostly, I want to be able to create fuller answers surrounding the question of the digital humanities’ value. I am not at all questioning the worth of this discipline, but as a novice in the field I don’t feel as though I can accurately articulate the necessity of the humanities is the digital world to someone who is resistant to its presence. As I learn about this new world inside my screen and slowly teach myself its language, I hope that I will be able to communicate the necessity for the humanities in this digital age we are in to people who may not be apt to listen if I am not speaking their language.


This phrase holds little meaning here, but the image below is its inspiration:
The Treachery of Images
Titled La Trahison des images, or The Treachery of Images in English, this painting was created by the French surrealist artist RenĂ© Magritte in 1929. Ceci n’est pas une pipe translates to This is not a pipe. Indeed, it is not a pipe, but rather an image of a pipe. Similarly, the words I have typed are not a link, they are merely the text that I have chosen to represent the link.

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