My Journey into Digital Literacy

Friday, March 01, 2024

As someone who wants to pursue a path to law school, a couple of year ago when considering my choices for college majors, I took some time to evaluate my academic strengths. After much thought, I decided that my true strengths always lied in reading/writing and my ability to communicate my own thoughts and ideas to others. I ended up going with English and Political Science, which was something I felt confident in. In truth, I never thought I was naturally inclined toward math or science. As time went on and I became someone who was trying to avoid all things that I considered math or science related, computers fell into that category in my mind.

Don’t get me wrong- I use my personal computer daily, but that usage extends to surfing the web or using some of the simple applications installed on my device. I took a coding computer course in the 6th grade for a term that I truly disliked and felt confused the entire time; whether or not I truly struggled on the class material or simply had the attention span of an 11 year old with a computer in front of them I could not tell you, but that was the deepest I had really ever looked into computers and I didn’t move forward with warm and fuzzy feelings about the experience.

However, this course has changed my perspective a bit, and has made looking deeper into my computer feel much less intimidating. As someone who has used computers almost my entire life, sometimes it’s easy to forget what these machines are truly capable of. Specifically as an English major, I never thought much of the importance of digital literacy until I started taking this class. Learning how to navigate my computer using the command line and different shortcuts has really been eye-opening for me.

In this digital age, I find being able to truly navigate and utilize our technology is crucial in almost every field, including the humanities. For example, being able to create a daily journal using markdown not only helps me organize my thoughts more efficiently, but also allows me to easily share with others.

Before this course I don’t recall learning much specifically about scholarly editing and its unique dedication to preserving and presenting texts from the past in a way that allows for a deeper understanding and interpretation of historical literary works. Unlike other forms of editing that may involve altering/improving texts for modern audiences, scholarly editing aims to respect the original intent and context of the author. It involves extensive research and attention to detail to ensure the accuracy and authenticity of the text being presented. This reminded me a lot of a course I took last semester where we made individual research projects about the now closed Geneseo Migrant Center and went through many of their archives using photographs, poems, letters, and plenty of other documents in order to authentically and respectfully piece together their story for modern audiences. I wasn’t 100% aware that what I was doing at the time was scholarly editing, but I certainly see it now.

This course has begun to open my eyes to the importance of digital literacy and the possibilities that technology holds, even for someone like myself who has typically shied away from the world of computers. I have found a newfound appreciation for the impact that technology can have on my academic and personal pursuits, and I am excited to continue learning and exploring the intersection of technology and the humanities.

Understanding the Digital World

On coming into the course, I knew close to nothing about what we ended up covering.

I knew in theory what the command line was, having seen it before, but never got that good look that we are currently doing. Another thing that is not necessarily relevant but is something that I have noticed is that the vast majority of students and even staff are all equipped with Macbooks, which in turn makes the learning process for the class a tad bit difficult for myself as a windows user, as both of the operating systems are vastly different in their features (accessing the command line, etc.)

As for important things I have learned, its something that is not necssicarily (thats spelled wrong i know it) is the benefits of keeping a journal. Journaling is something that I have always wanted to start, and the VS Code Markdown format that is used primarily in this class was the push that I needed to finally start keeping one. The convienience of the script is arguably the biggest push for me to start this personally, it keeps formatting to a minimum which is something that was so daunting to me in the first place, even formatting on paper was intimidating.

I can definately see myself keeping a more regular journal, once I figure out where the files are saved so I do not have to create a separate folder on my desktop just to find them, even after the conclusion of this course. Honestly, the whole digital journaling thing has really helped me organizde myself and my thoughts, the voices are gone so to speak. I would love to learn how to write my own script and to be a little more in depth as to what a script entails and what kind of programming language it takes to write a script. I can defenitely see the payoff from is, as writing a script seems to be complex but makes life so much easier in the end.

This course has certanly been a huge learning exoerience so far as ive had to become ‘techy’ to a degree. Not to toot my own horn so to speak, but I have become the local troubleshooter for my own in class working group (group name still pending) its a little insane that im asked for help because I personally dont see myself as that ‘techy’ and I am certainly not the best at using markdown or even the terminal. while I have learned the basics there is still so much for me to continue learning when it comes to the terminal and VS Code/Markdown.

It’s okay to get confused

Friday, March 01, 2024

If I am being completely honest, this class has been a crazy time for me. I am about as technologically inclined as any teenager i’d say but when it came down to opening and learning new ways of doing things, like taking notes, it was really difficult for me to understand. Since being in this class I have learned how to work a terminal window. Something I didn’t even know existed has become part of my every other day life. The terminal window to me is something I can use to type commands, save files, open folders, open tabs, create folders and files, etc. It is my computers control center in a way since I can control all of its systems. After a lot of trial and error within the terminal window I am now able to use it with seventy percent confidence. I am capable of knowing where I am in the termninal window and knowing how to get back into my home folder. Once I am in my home folder I can go anywhere with the right commands. At first I was constantly switching CD and LS with each other. I would type CD when trying to figure out what folders I had and when trying to open certain folder rather than typing LS.

I now know that when starting my terminal window I should type PWD to make sure I am in my home folder. Once I am in my home folder I know that by typing LS I can bring up my different folders then choose which one I want to be in. From there I type LS again followed by which folder I want, an example being my scripts folder. I can confrim that I am actually in my scripts folder by typing pwd and my terminal window will say “kateydemaria@s149n246 scripts %”, which basically says that I am in scripts which is in my home folder. I can take it up a level by typing CODE JOURNAL before entering scripts and following it with ./, this opens up a brand new journal with the date and time on it in Visual Studio Code.

Since starting digital age I have learned about Visual Studio Code. It is like Word but for the base layer of a document. Atleast that’s how I think of it. Personally I like how you can type things, like # for a type one heading, rather than having to stop typing and lose your thought to go to the tool bar and choose to make it bolder or larger font, or even impliment a heading format. I tend to use the command button on my Mac quite often for things like bolding or italicizing in DOCS. Since using Visual Studio Code I have had to continuously remember that the command button does nothing for me and I have to do it myself. Again though, I can check over everything I do and am trying to accomplish with the preview button in VSC.

Realistically, I have learned a lot about the internal structure of my computer because I had no idea that there was a different system within my Mac other than Finder. With this class I have also figured out how to move things around in my Finder and free up space in my applications and downloads. Most of my files are now organized and I can navigate through them easily whether in finder or in a terminal window. I have found this class interesting and complicated, in a good way, because of how many new things I have had to learn and remember. However, the way that I am learning is nice and allows me to take my time. If I fail in any of the servers I can close and retry again. Being able to take notes on the same platform that allows me to comb through each journal is helpful. Especially when I start after the weekend and mess up LS and CD when trying to open a new journal.

Claire’s First Experience With Coding

Throughout this course, I have learned a multitude of new information about modern-day technology that I was not aware of before. During my first week, I had not expected to be learning the specifics of coding, and I was also not aware that I could do so on my own computer by downloading a simple software application onto my laptop. While downloading the software and setting up Visual Studio Code was challenging at first, I’ve now managed to work with both properly. At first GitBash, the coding software we used for this course, had some problems when it came to using certain codes. This got confusing when I would try to follow along with the instructions we were given in class but I would run into some sort of error when I would do so on my own. This proved to be a very frustrating introduction, but overtime, it has gotten easier.

One thing I found by practicing these codes is that once you get the hang of them, they can be quite impressive to watch. These past few weeks, we learned to open a journal file on Visual Studio Code through the GitBash code commands. I typically like to have both set up as a split screen on my computer and now I am able to watch the file open itself once I type in ‘code journal.’ It’s a simple task, and one I am able to do manually, but it’s rather satisfying to watch one application open another exactly how I want it to be formatted. This is also a rewarding task, as it makes me feel like I am keeping up with the rest of my peers and improving with the code commands.

With all this new information we have learned, it’s very helpful to make notes about each of the different commands. While most of them are abbreviations, it’s a lot of new material and I try to write down as much as I can. While it’s difficult to remember most of these commands, I’ve managed to become familiar with a few of the basics such as “pwd, cd ~, ls, clear…). I think with more practice, I will get better at remembering these codes which will help me move forward more effiently in the course.

I’d say the main connection between computers and humanities that I hadn’t thought of before was that computers were originally human. As we learned in our readings, there were certified computers, or people and more specifically women, that made computations and calculations before these technologies were established. In this modern age, I think it’s easy for my generation to brush over the technicalities and origins behind the technologies we have today. Similar to my photography class, where we learned how a camera actually functions through light and mirrors, it’s easy to focus on the product itself rather than the work and the science behind how it was made. Most of the time, it’s because for a lot of us, it’s almost unfathomable that these inventions were created with what we had at the time, so it’s really interesting to learn how these products came to be.

Self Reflection on My Learning

This course has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone when it comes to working with my computer. Prior to taking this course I was very unfamiliar with how to work anything on my computer that was more behind the scenes, the concept of VS Studio Code was completely out of my range. I didn’t even know that working with markdown was something that I would be able to do. I came into this course completely blind and my confidence has really gone up even just over the last month. I am really proud of myself that I have been able to understand how to use my computer in more in-depth ways than ever before. I was not aware that the Terminal shell was something that you could use to access different apps and files quickly. I thought that I would always have to manually go to the VS Studio Code app, but instead I am able to just put in the command, which is so much easier. I am excited to see how much more I can learn from this course and see my own confidence rise as this course progresses.

One huge connection between computers and humanities for me was how effective using our computers on Douglass Day was. At first I wasn’t sure what to expect when I came to Douglass Day and was told that we would be transcribing, but I ended up learning a lot and helping out with a major project. Using our computers, as a group, we were able to transcribe hundreds of pages that will help their cause greatly. I think that partaking in that really opened my eyes to the connection between technology and humanities. I had never given much about how using technology we would be able to transcribe, review, and submit pieces of writing as a group effort. It would be so much harder to do these things without technology. With technology we were able to do these things quickly and efficiently, since all of this was at our fingertips.

Due to all the new things I’ve learned and realized so far in this course, it makes me wonder how I could apply these new skills in the other courses I am taking this semester. I’m an early childhood/childhood major with a concentration in English so my other classes involve writing lesson plans and applying teaching techniques. They don’t really mention using technology to benefit young students in the classroom, but I think that would be interesting and could be very useful. I wonder if there are shortcuts or ways to navigate my computer that would help with lesson planning that I don’t know about. Now that I have learned how to use the command line and VS Studio Code, I might use them in my other classes. I have never kept a journal with daily notes, but I actually think it has been very helpful for me. I have been able to look at past entries and remember how to do a command or revisit what we discussed in class. This is a habit that I think I will carry into other courses because it is a great resource.

Navigating the Digital World as a Female Student

Before beginning Lit & Lit Study in the Digital Age, I was unaware of the overwhelming influence of women in the software engineering profession and was oblivious to the fact that they essentially pioneered the creation of the first computer. I found my ignorance appalling, and in reading Broad Band, I have developed a better understanding of the relationship females have with technology. I found the idea that the word “girl” was once interchangeable with “computer” (24) both empowering and somewhat disquieting; I was shocked to find that their work reshaping the technological landscape was considered, for a long time, rudimentary. I took pleasure in reading the accounts of several glass-ceiling-shattering women in the field like Grace Hopper, though it was disheartening to hear about the failure of the world to acknowledge their triumphs and the general lack of respect paid to them. As I have entertained the idea of pursuing a minor in Women’s & Gender Studies, I believe I must always endeavor to better understand areas outside of my immediate academic interests where women are underrepresented (such as STEM). I like the fact that this class forced me, from the get-go, to confront my own biases in that I thought I was incapable of doing anything computer-related for a long time, shrugged it off, and said it simply wasn’t for me, a notion that festered rather paralyzingly in my brain and was rooted in some kind of internalized misogyny. On a similar note, I have found some striking parallels between my other English courses and this one: for example, the etymology and implications of words used commonly in computer jargon now like “manuscript” and “stereotypes”—even “ontology.” I was apprehensive about beginning this class as I thought it might stray too drastically from my other ones, that it would distract from my study of literature and overemphasize the growing digital aspect of it. I was wrong, and have since learned the two go hand-in-hand, that they are inextricable. As texts are digitized, I must grasp my changing relationship with them as a reader and scholar.

On the more practical side, I have learned how to better navigate my computer. I now know that my computer terminal exists and that I can interact with it in a number of ways, such as creating and monitoring my files and other activities. I am more comfortable exploring the functions of what I can do on my Mac and am better equipped to take advantage of all it can offer me, even at times googling fun commands to experiment with. It is also true that troubleshooting errors in my commands have become less nerve-inducing, as I was once irrationally afraid that I would somehow erase all of my data; now, I recognize that the software allows for mistakes and is, more often than not, forgiving. Also, I find it easier to ask for help now and trust that if I do make a mistake, there is likely someone able to aid me in remedying it.

Understanding the Language of the Digital World

When putting ENGL340 on my spring 2024 semester schedule, at first glance, I assumed that it would be just like every other English course offered at SUNY Geneseo. In which we would read a book, discuss it in class, and then write a five page thesis paper on our evaluation of the work. But after the first week, I realized this would be nothing like a class I have ever taken. I am an English Literature major for a reason, I do not get along well with advanced mathematics and while I do not consider myself a tech genius I believe I can work out many basic problems and find solutions. This class, as of six weeks in, has taught me that there is so much more to technology than I know.

My peers and I grew up with rapidly advancing mobile technology, most if not all of us had an Ipod Touch when we were 12 years old, given to us by our parents for “emergency purposes”. That quickly morphed into friends on Snapchat, texting memes all day, posting videos on, etc. And what once was for “emergency purposes” became everyday social life. Trends emerged and fell within weeks and there was a whole new pool of young impressionable teenagers surfing the web and falling into rabbit holes they ought not to be. We grew up fast, the world was literally at our fingertips for the taking at all times. We saw all the good and the bad, we still do, it’s just our life now.

My dad is a tech guy, he warned me early on about the implications of publicity and to watch out for random text messages and strange emails from unknown faceless people. Because of that, coming into this class I knew that “CPU” stood for central processing unit and the “cloud” stored all the information that I wanted it to somewhere in space, but I had no idea what that all actually meant. I had no idea that I could access it by myself; that I could, as a book loving English major, be taught to understand the language of computers and utilize it to make my life easier. Even six weeks in I have a better understanding of such intangible objects than I ever had before. Now I understand what my dad does (in a more simple form).

While this is not the direction I want my life to go in, like my father’s has, I can go into the world having a solid understanding of markdown language and why it is important to know. Now, my computer is not just a means for submitting assignments and scrolling on Pinterest, it’s a whole new world built on a language that I can finally start to understand. As the semester progresses and inevitably comes to an end, I am excited to learn more about my computer, its unique language, and the digital world. Therefore, I will feel more prepared for where ever my life goes after college because the digital world is not going anywhere anytime soon and understanding its language will help me succeed in the future.

Connections with other classes, and the confidence I have gained.

So far in this course I have learned a lot about my computer and its connection to the humanities that has helped me become more comfortable with my own computer and other technology as well. Before this class I found myself not thinking about how my computer worked, or how what I am doing on my computer comes to be, but after our conversation about Broad Band I have been thinking more about my computer itself and the inner workings going on when I use it. Specifically thinking about the part in Broad Band where it talked about the programs and the programs creating programs themselves, I find myself remembering this a lot when I am creating our daily journals and even when running other programs like Google Docs, Brightspace, Gmail etc. I have used this new knowledge and confidence to be more open to using all the potential of my computer and exploring what I can do to personalize my experience with it.

A concept in this class that has opened my eyes to more things outside the class has been the idea of paying more attention to the process of creating a work of literature instead of just the words written. I have found myself relating this a lot to my African American literature class, and how back when the works we look at were being published there had to be prefaces written by white people before the Black author’s work could be published. I related this to the conversation of looking at the process as well as the work itself because if one were to just read the preface and then the work they could believe that the author of the preface held a higher educational or professional ranking than the author of the work in question, but when you look at the context behind the written work you can uncover the fact that the only reason the preface was written was because of racist beliefs. I was happy I had the thought from our conversation about Thoreau and his writing to search and think more about the behind the scenes working of the reading in my other class so I was aware of the historical circumstances.

I have found that there has been a lot of crossover between this class and my women and gender studies class as well, especially with the book Broad Band and the fact that women had a huge hand in creating the modern day computer and the programming it uses, but it is still viewed as a man’s sphere and the women were uncreditted for the work they did. In my women’s class we also talk about how historically women have been underestimated and uncredited for the work they did that has impacted us up through today. Overall, this class has been very beneficial in teaching me how to utilize my computer, as well as utilize others classes to a full extent with confidence in what I am doing.

Learning with my computer

I began this course with truly little knowledge about computers in general and with almost no knowledge of how to use my own computer effectively. Over the past couple of weeks, my confidence in using my computer has increased dramatically. Previously, I feared trying anything new or using any sort of shortcut because I feared breaking something on my computer or accidentally downloading something that would harm my computer. Now I know a handful of shortcuts I can do consistently without fear of harming something. I know now that if I do something wrong, I have the knowledge to fix it or can use a search engine to find a way to fix it. An example of this comes from creating a journal file every day for class use. I know the exact steps that I must complete to create my file correctly if it does not work, I can look at what I typed into Gitbash and recognize where I typed something wrong or did not ”cd” into the correct file.

This course has also impacted the way that I view editing and digitally published pieces of work. I have worked in student publication over the years and have done both physical and digital publishing. This course has shown me how little I knew about digital publication and the possibilities that arise when using technology to one’s advantage. Using markup language and different tags can impact the editing process and make the organization process easier. Now when I am personally editing, both digitally and on paper, I pay more attention to how different things are digitally.

This course has drawn my attention to the things and the people that are doing the work “behind the scenes.” When we learned about all the women who worked to help make great technological advances and receive no credit it stood out to me. This is a common historical thread that I have noticed is often talked about in other classes I have previously taken and classes I am taking now. As this course progressed, I began to think about the programs on my computer that I consistently use to operate certain things, yet I never realized I was utilizing them.

Through learning these new concepts and noticing different things in my daily life, I want to learn more about my own personal computer. I personally use a windows machine from a brand that I do not often see other students using, it is not as common as something like a MacBook. I have had this same computer for many years, but I still do not know much about the distinct traits that it has. I recently learned that there was a way I could connect my smartphone to my computer and receive text messages and phone calls through my computer. I hope to continue to educate myself on how to use my own computer more effectively and to learn things that make my use of technology easier.

Update on the First Half of the Semester

In the first portion of this course, I have learned a lot about my computer. I came into this course having very little background knowledge or understanding of how my computer works. Not only have I learned about the history and origins of computers, I have a greater understanding of the nuances of my device. Using the terminal and visual studio code was very difficult for me to get used to at first. But after playing around some more, I seem to have a better grasp of how to navigate it.

So far I’ve most enjoyed our discussions on the importance of transcribing historical documents.
I’m an ed major with a double concentration in history and english, so it intersects with my interests perfectly.
Because of my previous experiences and classes, I have a great appreciation of the importance of transcribing these documents for scholarly usage.

Currently, one of my friends is working with one of our professors to transcribe arabic documents, which is very difficult.
I’ve been keeping in touch with them about how this project progresses because I am interested to see how the process of using these documents in historical research.

My favorite experience from this class so far was the Douglass Day event. It was really nice to get out of the classroom and see the application of what weve learned in class. The presenters were also incredibly enthusiastic and passionate which made me even more engaged with the experience. Overall, my experience with this class has been positive.

Going forward, I am excited to get more into the applications of what weve learned so far. Since I am not the most tech savvy and have more background in the humanities, I am look forward to connecting these very different disciplines together.