Author: Mallory DelSignore

Connections

I remember on the first day of class, I told my partner I was pretty proficient in computers. All those days I spent playing tech support for all my older relatives, and being the go-to graphic design girl in my business class in high school, gave me a faux sense of confidence when it came to computers. When I initially thought learning how to use the command line had to do with making graphic lines, was my first sign of trouble. VirtualBox was a bit of a shock at first, considering the expectations I had. On top of that, even though I’m concentrating in English, I guess I had never placed much thought into linguistics itself.  The relationship of linguistics, information, and technology, have been presented to me through the duration of this course in a way I could have never fathomed.

The essence of the biggest lesson I have taken from this class is this: information, in both linguistics and technology, is not a creation of this current digital age. There are decades and centuries behind us of this coexisting relationship. I had personally been clueless of this, just listening to the elders that talked down to my fellow screen-addicted peers, saying that this was only a product of our generation. Looking at Walden alone opened my eyes to this, especially when I had to dig to try to make connections to our class. I remember being given that very task, sitting there thinking, “What? Walden is the polar opposite of all the things we do in class, there’s no way to make a meaningful connection.” But as I began to dig, the puzzle pieces started to connect as I realized the influence of that relationship was so heavily presented in Walden, written over 100 years ago. To continue on, I think it’s worthwhile to not only look for this everlasting relationship, as our current technology continues to grow and boom. As a future teacher, teaching to make meaningful connections between text and our world around us is a key point of literature itself. I think it will be important to give these sorts of challenges to open students eyes to all the relationships and connections around us.

Technically, one of my favorite hands-on programs I have learned is being able to utilize atom. As I journal in it everyday, and maneuver the wonders of plain text, I can’t help but think of the long-term use. While I move forward in my teaching career, knowing how to use a program like atom to be able to save text in different formats, makes every future worksheet, e-journal, and lesson plan easier and more efficient to do on a computer. Not to mention, this is a skill I could implement with upper elementary students. Especially if digital technology continues at the rapid rate it does, skills like markdown and plain text will only become more handy. Having an understanding for a deeper use of the technology we use daily, makes me more versatile in the classroom.

Just last week, when I applied for a job at a local library, I wrote in the special skills box that I was currently taking this class that was teaching me about metadata and encoding. I was already comfortable in the humanities, but now finding ease in my new computer knowledge, makes my skill set more functional and resourceful than ever. I’m glad to not just know the surface level function of these machines, but be able to navigate my machine in relation to my studies, and even far beyond those.

Digital and Humanist: One in the Same

I still remember 2nd grade typing club like it was yesterday. Trudging down to the computer lab, to sit in front of a big mac, laying out my hands over the keyboard, just to secretly type with my pointer fingers when my teacher wasn’t looking. From a young age, I became well acquainted with computers in their basic functions, dreading hearing my mom or grandma call my name for help. Throughout the same time, I buried myself in books, always neglecting that kindle I got for my 11th birthday. Never was I afraid of a device, but when it came to my English studies, a paper copy was a necessity. Moving into college, I acknowledged that I would have to become a little more tech-savvy as an education major to be able to manipulate all the machines to some level of mastery that the kids are now growing up fluent in. Declaring my english concentration, was another way of letting myself stay in the cozy past of old books, and face to face discussions. Coming into this class, I was naive to believe that we were just going to discuss how social media has impacted the way we read and study literature. Although I never preferred a device over a paper copy, I felt fluent in using a computer for what I needed- simple apps and some graphic design work. Being introduced to the world of informatics and coding was completely foreign to me. In all honesty, I was beyond apprehensive once finding out what this course would contain. I was fully ready to come and discuss about how social media impacted our humanities, so finding out I would learn how to do some basic coding, and really understand my computer was nerve wracking. But once we got started, I had a change of heart.

When I delve into my own beliefs as to what the humanities entail, technology is one of the last facets I think of. When I think of the humanities, I first think of the old. Yet, the first day of this course opened my mind to realize, that technology is such a humanist creation. So often, we separate STEM from english, when it is all one in the same. I realized that we associate language as a humanist ideal, yet we set apart the language of math, and coding. In terms of our computer, we like to neglect how monumental of a role it plays in literature. In my own life, I also never considered computers apart of the realm of english studies, I secluded my views of the study to just physical books themselves. Although currently, my views have shifted to encompass informatics.

I understand the side that technology allows us to have so much more cultural information, history, and research from all over the globe. Yet, I think it is worthwhile to look at the direct impact of technology as it has grown with the humanities. Originally, I felt that social media was ruining students lives, and dulling our thinking capacities. But once the class focused more on the history of technology and a “thinking machine” I got more of a clear view of how the humanities and technology intertwine perfectly.

When I look at my technology use currently, I have to admit, I’m pretty attached to my phone and my Macbook. Looking at my personal phone history, I was 8 years old when I got my first black flip phone, that I could barely text off of. We had a massive dell machine in our living room, that I played endless hours of sims on. I never go a day without using my Macbook now, whether it’s for homework, emails, or for tv. Both devices, I have grown in my usage, but still manipulate them without much depth. Like the history we’re reading about, I use my machines to about the level of a telegraph. I’m excited to get to know the deeper mechanics of my computer through this class, to be able to effectively keep up with the changing way we view the humanities. After our first few classes diving into the coding world I never knew existed, let alone pertained to my studies, I’m feeling adventurous and excited to keep learning.