Unexpected Surprises in this Class…


I guess I’ll start off by saying sorry for the delay in this post.

When I first saw this class being offered, I assumed from the title alone that this class would be about the ways in which human minds have begun to change due to the introduction of new forms of reading and different ways of taking in information. Probably due to my Education major, I expected to have conversations about the ways in which reading in different formats can change our comprehension, which of course connects back to education and the implementation of text in a classroom (especially ELA!). Upon realizing that my assumption was not entirely correct, and that we would be focusing on different aspects of not only regular but digital literacy and how we can use it to better understand and interpret texts, I was in equal parts fascinated, excited, and terrified.

I have never been very literate when it comes to technology, despite being part of the first generation to really grow up with it. I was in late middle school when I received an iPod Touch for Christmas, which was really my first exposure to this new era of technology. I suppose some of this is due to the fact that my parents seemed to be a bit slow on the uptake, as it appears after a quick engine search that the first iPod Touch was released when I was only seven years old. I definitely recall my parents having flip phones until the late 2000s, and I grew up playing games on a clunky old computer. All of this to say I always felt a couple years behind when it comes to digital literacy/understanding computers.

This is exactly why I found the subject material of this class to be so exciting and daunting at the same time. I couldn’t wait to develop some skills and knowledge of computers: how they work, why they work, why and how they were invented, etc.

When people ask me what classes I am taking this semester, I even find myself referring to this course as a “basic computers class” rather than an “English class,” while I of course, find both to be true.

I am especially excited to be familiarizing myself with terms such as “metareading” and “digital scholarly editing,” and seeing how these can be applied when looking at a text such as Walden. I am excited to be moving forward in this study, and I now understand why Walden is the perfect subject of study for this class, with several editions and constant edits being made by the original author.

This study, and I suppose then, this class as a whole, has changed the way I see text: it feels more fluid now, less concrete. I can understand that a “book” can be an amalgamation of ideas which span the stories of countless people. Text feels much more alive now, something which feels counterintuitive when considering the metacritical and hyperanalytical ways in which we are viewing it for the purposes of this class.

I am so looking forward to continuing these studies in the class and moving forward, and I cannot wait to see what else we can uncover together.

Thank you!

Griffin’s super cool (and definitely not late) Introspective thoughts

Believe it or not, I figured out how to get one of these things open! All by myself too, sort of. I’ve been trouble-shooting for the last 30 or 40 minutes, pretty sure I was just using the wrong command for what I was trying to do, but we’re here, I got the file open, that’s what matters.

So, here we are, writing a blog post, getting all introspective and stuff. How have I changed in the last month or two? Well, I guess I will start off by saying that I have always had a lot of hobbies. I love trying new things and developing new skills, and I especially love learning. However, this has started to become a double edged sword as I’ve gotten older. I really don’t have the time anymore to engage in any of my hobbies frequently enough to dive any deeper, learn any more, or get any better. I love playing guitar, for example, but I’m lucky if I’ve got it in me I’ll pick it up and practice for maybe 20-30 minutes once a week. That is hardly enough for me to even mantain the skills I acquired when I had more time. I wish I could just do my hobbies full time, but I’m sure everybody wishes that.

My point is, Computer science and programming has always been a passive interest of mine. I’ve never really given it the time necessary to develop any skills, but it’s something I find incredibly interesting. The first time I got the oppurtunity to dive a little deeper was when I was taking a few online classes during the COVID lockdowns at a community college. Unfortunately the lockdown rocked my mental health pretty good, and so I didn’t retain much of anything. I don’t think I even passed the class. I did take a game design class which involved doing some work in Unity, which was super fun, but I didn’t get too much further in that one either.

So, until taking this class, my interest in computer science was only able to manifest itself in the odd youtube video I’d watch about making DOOM run on an array of lemons, or creating a semi-functional version of Microsoft Paint in Minecraft. All I’d learned from my brush with actually engaging in computer science was that I’d definitely need to dedicate more time than I had been able if I stood any chance of understanding and retaining any of it.

After the first few weeks of this class I was already hooked. Getting the command line open for the first time, making directories and all that, boy it felt neat! Unfortunately after missing several weeks of this semester due to illness, I found myself pretty behind, and I’m still playing catch up. Hell, this blog post is already gonna be at least 3 days late, assuming I manage to finish it today. I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, but then again, I did manage to open this file. Pretty sure I even did it correctly, so I must be doing something right, right?

So, where am I going from here? Well for one, I’d love to catch up with the rest of the class. It feels like for every step I take forward, everyone else is taking two. I’m sure most of the class is struggling in their own way, this kind of material isn’t easy, but that two and a half weeks of class I missed certainly didn’t help me, that’s for sure.

Becoming Confident with My Computer

One of the most important understandings that this course has brought to me so far is the fact that I am not inherently “bad with technology.” Throughout my years in secondary school, I thought of my lack of understanding or profieciency with computers was something I should just accept as a weakness of mine. Obviously I strived for improvement, but I always, to some degree, thought of it as an area in which I would perpetually be one step behind my peers.

This outlook has changed since beginning this class. I now know that I am capable of learning how to use technology to my advantage, instead of viewing it as some entirely foreign concept at best, and my enemy at worst. This was not an immediate transition. I ran into diffuclties quite early on in the course when I could not download the apps necessary to do the classwork on (such as this very program). Overcoming that obstacle, and learning more about my device during the process, allowed me to feel like I had more control over my computer, and more autonomy in my usage of it.

I would not go so far as to say that I understand computers perfectly; it is akin to learning a new language, a process which involves much time and practice. I do, however, believe that I have made more progress than I originally believed myself to be capable of before taking this class, and I know that my development will only continue as the semester continues.

In terms of material, I found the portion we have read so far of Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet particularly interesting. The perspective offered about women’s role in the development of computers so early on is one that was entirely new to me. I did not expect women to be so central to the history of the machines as we know them today because, oftentimes, we think of coding, math, and engenieering as male dominated fields. It was very interesting to learn that this was not always the case; women filled the role of a “computer” before the machines that term refers to today was introduced, and also were the main players in navigating how to use the intricate machines in a way that is helpful to humankind.

The World of Online Text and Computer Literacy

With every english class I take as a college student, I make an effort to connect myself to the content and find a way in which the material might contribute to my abilities as both a writer and a future educator. This class has challenged me in a lot of ways I’ve never experienced in a classoom before, and has adapted me with a new mindset and set of skills that I was hesistant to embrace at first. I’ve always viewed myself as someone who thrives with writing and reading on paper. I grew up fully immersed in books, using words on a page to express my happiness, sadness, and confusion as a young girl. I found myself invested in the characters and storylines I read about, and used literature as a way to find new perspectives, and ways to view the world around me. This made a class about books and computers completely foreign to me.

How could I take the concepts I was so familiar with on pen and paper and translate them virtually! My first few weeks learning about the terminal window and Visual Studio code was a tough transition, and faced me with an expected challenge. I had to work harder to understand the virtual aspect of literature and I truly believe the effort I put into understanding the code made a real difference in my connection to the course.

Learning skills like transcription and TEI taught me the importance and care that goes into decoding older works and the significance that technology can hold when gaining acess to an authors message/purpose. This question of technologys purpose in a world of literature resonated with me most deeply when taking this course. What qualities make something a book? How does online literature and creations like AI alter the world of literature?

Class discussions surrounding these questions led me to determine that the every changing nature of our world and the prevalence of technology within it give computers and the metaverse a well deserved spot within the realm of reading and writing. This is something I thought I’d never say!I feel that these reflective questions that guided class also allowed me to expand my ability to respectfully disagree with others, and have a productive conversation!

While I still connect and feel the ability to interact best with physical copies of text, I feel that this class has allowed me to establish a new relationship to my computer. This newfounded computer literacy has made it easier for me to read and annotate text online, and showed me how important it is to examine the history that exists online in the world of literature.

Following this idea of progressing communication skills, the comments we left on Walden showed me a new form of online annotation and classmate colloboration that I enjoyed! The world of online forums and their international ability to discuss varying works is such a priviledge! I feel lucky to have learned more about that through ENGL 340.

Overall this class has taught me a lot about communication, and the relationship between technology and literature that I am excited to dive deeper into.

A Class that Opens New Perspectives- Eve Angelo

While taking Literature and Literary Study in the Digital Age, I’ve learned a lot about my computer, and defining what objects are in the new digital age. I’ve never been interested much in technology; It always seemed too complicated and overwhelming to even start learning. While taking this class, I’ve learned a lot about my own personal device, and how to make command lines and codes. Growing up, I’ve always observed my brothers play on their fancy computers and do things I’ve never been able to do. Now that I’ve taken this class, I can finally understand the things they discuss and relate to them. When it comes to defining objects in the digital age, it’s difficult to make one definition with all these new resources coming to light. For example, we discussed in class “what is a book?” At first, I was adamant on saying a book is simply words on paper glued together with a cover. Now looking back, I can see how that would be incorrect. With the rise of technology -and its accessibility to people- books have adapted to this as well, and have started to become digital. Audio books, e-books and kindle readers have expanded this definition of what a book can be. Books don’t need to be paper and glue; As long as it shares a story to others, its all the same.

Understanding Computers: From Mystical to Manageable

Before Starting this Class

I was markedly ‘anti-computer’ in my scholarship before. I would pay more for a physical copy of a book instead of a computer copy, I would take all of my notes by hand, and I would write out essays in a notebook before typing them up. I really thought that it was better – for learning, and also just personal preference. I was really comfortable in the aspect of my identity that said “I’m not good with computers.” And this wasn’t really for lack of trying – I tried to be tech-savvy and to be ‘modern’ in my use of technology, and it just didn’t really work for me – I always got tripped up and frustrated and would return to my comfort zone of paper and pen.

The Process

However, just through the first few weeks of this class, I have gained so much comfortability in using a computer in different ways than I ever had before. If you had told me last fall that I could use code to make my computer do things for me, I would not have believed you, and probably would have laughed. Even just understanding the file system of a computer was a huge step for me, let alone navigating it through GitBash. I was so surprised when my script to open up, name, and edit a markdown journal file actually worked – it just never seemed like something I’d be able to do. I think a lot of this had to do with how it was framed – I had always considered computers to be something like magic – something that is to be used as much as you can, but outside of my capacity for understanding. Understanding how computing in the modern sense came to be really helped, and so did a systematic breakdown and intuitive flow through information. This all made it seem possible to undersand, and much less mysterious and magical.

The Results

This increase in knowledge and skill in regards to computers has really changed the way I am living my day-to-day life. I had always used a bound paper planner – on that I used a ruler to draw, since no planners I could find worked for how I was using it. This took so much time and effort – and this isn’t to bash paper planners, because I still use it some and I still really love the process that went into it – but it was restrictive because of the time it took. Since starting this class, I have been really able and willing to transfer my planner organization onto a notion page and use it to keep track of deadlines and tasks and events, and it’s so much quicker and easier than copying things over by hand. I have also started – not only in this class, where it’s an assignment – to take notes on my laptop and actually be able to focus while doing so. I don’t lament having to read or write on my computer anymore – and I think that’s just a byproduct of actually understanding what’s happening when I’m using it.

Technology: A Class that Changed My View

This course changed my perspective on computers and how they could be used. I registered for this course not knwoing what to expect, but I am glad that I chose this course. In the past, I used my computer to do my school work and play videogames. But now I see it’s more than simply a tool. It’s like a key to understanding human behavior.

Thinking back on everything that I’ve learned in the Digital Humanities course so far, it’s been interesting. In this course, the books that are assigned for us to read are “Broad Band” by Claire L. Evans, “The Book” by Amaranth Borsuk, and Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden”. I had no idea how much women had contributed to computing history until I read “Broad Band”. Learning about their job is important for me since it provides a new perspective that is often ignored. “The Book” showed how books have evolved throughout time. It helped me realize how technology and literature are connected. Using Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” in the course has helped me think more about the relationship between books and computers, especially because Thoreau discusses technology in the book.

I’ve learned a few basics regarding the computer side of language and literature and I am looking forward to learning more. Exploring the file system and learning the command line is very different and actually pretty fun. I never expected to be interested in learning how files are arranged, yet here I am. Navigating the file system and using the command line is like discovering something completely new on my computer that I never really knew existed. Learning to use computer tools for literary study has increased my knowledge of technology in general. I am a big fan of computers and I have always felt that computers are very benefical to use now and will most defintely be in the future. I’ve even started using what I’ve learned in this course with my other courses to make my life easier. This class sparked my interest in how computers may be used for literary analysis, which is something I had not considered previously.

Also, the course taught me how to use Terminal on my MacBook. I’ll be honest, Terminal used to scare me when it was first introduced to me. My first opinion on Terminal was that I was very confused. Seeing all different commands and trying to understand everything before being taught, I felt like I had no chance to gain anything from this course. Now, it feels like a powerful tool in my hands that I am learning more of day by day. Learning to command my computer through Terminal has not only increased my confidence but has also allowed me to use my MacBook in a new way.

Thinking about this Digital Humanities course reminded me of when I wanted to be a computer science major when I was in High School. My father suggested me to pursue my career with this major but it never worked out. I always had like a passion for computers, especially when I started learning what a graphics card is, what a motherboard is, CPU, GPU, etc. Even though I ended up taking a different major, this class just reminded me of that time. It’s like a connection between the technology I was into back then and the literature I’m into now. Back then I wanted to learn how to build computers and learn programming. This course is a great opportunity to combine my previous interest in computers with my current interest in literature.

In summary, this course changed my view on technology and literature. It is not just about what is in the books, but also how we use technology to comprehend them. This Digital Humanities course has given me new ideas and increased my confidence in the technology side of things.

How I Learned To Like A Computer Class

I remember the first computer class that I took my freshman year of high school. It had a unique name that I can’t recall because it didn’t solely involve computers, but physics, woodworking and welding. It was a required course, like home economics, intended to teach us valuable life skills. I was, for the first time in my school career, completely out of my element. I got by alright with the building, primarily due to my childhood experiences following Lego direction booklets (if you’ve ever attempted to follow a Lego build, you know that can be much harder than it looks). When it came to the computers though, I was completely and utterly lost. It was like attempting to read a language where you can’t even recognize the letters. As I recall, I got by because of my best friend at the time, who is, appropriately, now going to school for mechanical engineering. When the year was over, I vowed never to take a computer-related class ever again.

Yet here I am in Literature Study in the Digital Age, learning how to use the terminal, write commands, understand markup and XML/TEI. Like the class’s name says, we’re in a digital age and it’s valuable to know computers. So I’m trying to learn.

One part of the class that I’ve really enjoyed so far is learning about the history of computers and literature. Broad Band in particular is a fascinating read because it shows the extent to which women were involved in the history of the computer and were the earliest users. I think reading it actually helped me become more confident in my ability to navigate the class. This actually connects to the Social Psychology class that I’m taking as we’re learning about the ways in which stereotypes create self-fulfilling prophecies, where people start to believe and act out the stereotypes that others put on us. There is a stereotype that women aren’t good with computers and that computer science is a men’s field. However, Broad Band directly contradicts that idea which I think has made me feel better about my abilities in this class.

I’ve also enjoyed learning about all the hidden features in my computer that I didn’t know existed, such as the terminal. For example, I had no idea that you could create and organize files using the command line. Additionally, the fact that plain-text files are almost endlessly transferable across computer systems is very cool and it’s changed my perspective on specific word processing systems and companies such as Apple or Microsoft. It’s opened my eyes and made me more curious about the limits imposed by some tech companies.

To wrap this up, I no longer hold a grudge against computer-focused classes (though I still despise Lego directions) and I think I’ve learned a lot of valuable tools and knowledge in this class so far. I’m excited to see what the next part of the semester brings.

My Extensive Progression In ENGL 340 Thus Far

Thus far while taking ENGL 340, I have learned so much more about the capabilities of my computer than I originally thought I would be able to. When signing up for this course, I had not expected the vast amount of technical work that would be taught to me to help me learn to use my computer more efficiently. Regarding what I have specifically learned, the most obvious is certainly the use of Markdown files. Before starting this course I was completely unaware of what a terminal window was and honestly, when I started learning how to operate the Markdown file, I found it incredibly difficult and frustrating. I had to set up a meeting with my professor to properly download the Visual Studio Code Application since I was unable to get it working in class. After several classes where I was unable to follow along with the lesson, I was slightly overwhelmed however once I troubleshot with my professor and fixed the problem, I felt much more confident in using Markdown.

One of the main things I have noticed about my progression throughout the semester is my increase in confidence in using my computer. Before starting the course I would constantly say,” I’m terrible with technology” and would usually be too afraid to mess with anything on my computer. What I have enjoyed about this course specifically is that we have been taught to try multiple ways to fix a problem if we are to come across one. This mentality has stuck with me and I have found myself being able to solve problems that I would previously not even attempt to.

Another thing that has shocked me about this course is the amount of connections between computers and English that I had never truly noticed. When starting the course, I truly did not believe that there was a strong correlation between the two, and I have come to change my view on this completely. One lecture that stuck out to me was when my class got into what a book truly is. My original opinion was that a book is a physical object with pages, and a spine, bound together that contains knowledge meant to inform or entertain the reader. While I still know this to be true, my horizons have expanded after the discussion that online books should be considered a books just the same. With the evolution of technology, it is changing the way that we view many things. Things such as the news which used to solely be on paper and now digital as well, similar to how books are evolving.

Very recently, I noticed that what I have been learning in this course has been similar to my Wrtg: Utopia & Al/Race & Time. In the class, we recently watched a TED talk about the importance of science fiction as a tool to analyze certain societal issues such as racism, inequity, etc. The speaker, Chuck Adler, mentioned how science fiction writing has predicted many important technological advancements such as cell phones and even space travel. I found it fascinating just how interrelated the humanities and technology were throughout the TED Talk and it reminded me of the lessons we have been learning in this course.

I am hoping to keep learning about my computer so that I can operate it with even more efficiency as the semester progresses. One thing I am excited to learn is how to navigate the web more smoothly and hopefully be able to be able to learn about syntax as well since we have had several small discussions about it, however I am still unsure of exactly what it is. I am excited to continue to grow my knowledge for the remainder of the course.

The Unnoticed Women Throughout History

As I began registering for this class, I was unsure what the outcome would be. Truthfully, the aspects I have learned in this class have appeared different from my initial thoughts. I believed that we would only be learning about how computers have changed literature and how progressive literature has gotten. While this is a slight glimpse of what I have learned, I have gained so much more of an understanding of the history and future of computers. An aspect that has stayed in my mind throughout the semester is how involved women were in the advancement of computers.

During the first days of classes, while going through and commenting on The Untold Story of the Women who Made the Internet: BroadBand, it was so intriguing to see how many of my peers also had no idea about women during the development of computing. To go into more detail, during World War II, a whole new technology emerged, making it easier to mark and drop bombs when needed. Yet, Evans states that without the assistance of women in the computing process, the men would have never known where to drop the bombs. “Men may have dropped bombs, but it was women who told them where to do it.”(53). This information is shocking because it feels that although the women were not physically fighting in the war, they did not receive the credit they deserved. While reading further, what was additionally startling was even after all of the help provided during the war, once it ended, there were no guaranteed jobs for women.

So, this then goes into what I would like to learn and become more knowledgeable about. I feel that it is substantially important to know who was part of a creation that is so prominent in our everyday lives. It feels especially noteworthy when those vital people who were part of history do not get any credit for their developments. Before this class, I did not know that women were involved with computers because no one had ever educated me on it. I suppose when you consider an event like World War II, you think of the soldiers who physically fought. Nevertheless, it is also crucial to consider women’s computing and being behind the technological part that allowed the soldiers to complete their work as safely and efficiently as possible.

It has become apparent to me that a woman’s work usually goes unnoticed and unappreciated regardless of the impact it has or could make. As exemplified above, even after all of the consistent service women provided during the war, were still viewed as useless and not as competent as men. Various companies similar to Remington Rand, continued to have an “old-school” mindset, refusing to hire a woman to do computing, joining the navy, or mathematics. The men running these companies believed that women could never understand any installations they created.

Betty Holberton, however, proved these companies wrong by creating “Betty’s Sort-Merge Generator”, the first time a computer was used to write a program that wrote a program. Before this, many computers thought that this would be impossible, let alone a woman would invent it. The section about Betty’s Sort-Merge Generator was my favorite because it accurately portrayed the power of women and changed their lives forever.