Digital Literacy and Media

Time for the Comm major to talk about his major! I’ve really enjoyed this class and the implications it has towards the study of literature and the nature of the digital humanities in general. Yet, as we’ve gone through the semester, the primary means of application that regularly pop into my head always have to do with my studies regarding Communication, primarily Journalism and Media, rather than literature.

So first I wanna talk about something pretty basic, Slack. I heard of Slack before we used it for class, but I had never actually used it or got to see its interface before. It reminds me a lot of the app “GroupMe,” which allows for group messaging regardless of what kind of device you have, but Slack is far more involved. I really appreciate the potential for Google Drive and Trello integration, Slack really is the perfect communication tool for collaboration. I’ve been involved with the school paper, The Lamron, since I arrived at Geneseo and I’ve always been frustrated with some of the paper’s logistical operations. The paper communicates primarily through email, and I find it’s easy for important messages to get missed or lost, and relying on email attachments to share articles presents its own slew of challenges. Next year, I get to serve as the Lamron’s Copy Editor, and since I’ll have more of an influence over the paper I may try and exert some of that to tweak how it operates. I love how we have the separate channels for our projects, assignments, book recommendations in class and how seamlessly we can talk to one another. I have a pretty clear vision of a slack channel for each separate Lamron section where writing assignments can be distributed, articles can be submitted, and questions can be answered. I’m excited to take some of what has worked in our Digital Humanities class and use it to better the school organization that I work so hard for.

So that’s a practical takeaway from this class that I hope to benefit from, but before I close out this post I want to get meta. This class has gotten me to consider data in ways I never could have fathomed, for obvious reasons considering our readings. I particularly enjoyed our class discussion regarding whether or not there are differences between data and information, and what those differences may be. I subscribe to the belief that they are different: data is simply the words on a page while information is the meaning we interpret from those words. How can I apply this way of thinking to my work outside of this class? The data-mining Thoreau project has gotten me to consider words in a new way, there’s more information to be obtained from that data than just the message communicated when words on a page are read in order. For example: as my group was learning to use Pyhton in order to extract data, we practiced with a programming package called NTLK. Basically, this allows us to find patterns and trends in a text more easily than if we went solely through the command line. One of the texts automatically included in NTLK was the classic comedic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This was the text that I used to mess around with the software and it made me realize how much more information can be extracted from a film outside of just watching it. When I write for the Lamron, and in general, more often than not it’s some kind of film analysis. This potential to mine scripts opens up a whole new world of analytical possibilities. Did you know the word “swallow” is only said 10 times in that movie? Yet it is still one of the film’s most indelible quotes, which goes to illustrate the importance of context and delivery rather than frequency when it comes to important movie moments.

I really appreciate this class and the way it’s inspired me to consider analysis from a fresh perspective. Data was always something I figured was better left to STEM types, yet our work has shown me that there is plenty to be gained by anyone if they develop a basic understanding of digital technologies. This class has proved to me time and time again that the divide between technical fields of study and our own more creative endeavors really doesn’t exist.

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