Takeaways from this class and the coronavirus

             Over the course of this class my perception on English as a discipline has certainly changed and my change in thought is even linked with the coronavirus in some sense. When I think of English as a discipline one of the aspects that sticks out to me as important is the way in which it is taught. When everyone first started hearing about the coronavirus I didn’t really take it all that serious. Then when we were all heading home for spring break and eventually realizing we were not coming back for the rest of the semester; the reality of it sank in. At the time I thought about how this could possibly affect the way in which teaching happens for everyone in the future. Since everyone has to learn remotely, I figured that it was possible that many could change their viewpoint on college in general and its necessity or lack of it. I thought this could possibly turn towards to making college obsolete if everyone can learn at the same level from home. After a few weeks of remote learning I realized my initial assumption was very wrong. I far underestimated the importance of being in and learning within a classroom surrounded by your fellow classmates. One takeaway from the coronavirus I have been thinking about is how much easier it is to do college work within the structure that colleges have set up.

              I think this relates to this class in an interesting way because of its focus on English specifically in the digital age. As we move towards a society that will probably become more and more intertwined with technology, we cannot lose many of the foundations that got us here. In person teaching being one of those foundations. There is something about having a specific time to show up to class and be a part of a collective of other people going through the same thing that fosters a beneficial space to learn and grow as college students.

              This class also opened my eyes to the extent of English as a discipline. I came into the class northing essentially nothing about things like coding and how it could relate to English. I only thought about coding as a way to creating software, websites, video games, or even a business intelligence analyst system. However, I didn’t make that link to how it could relate to English. In having things like the writing of Walden and putting into code seemed like it had no benefit from my own perspective when it was first introduced. As we progressed and I saw the potential for the computer to analyze certain things like the patterns of words within the book. The website that tracked things like certain word count for how many times they repeated and overall word repetition counts over the whole book helped take new things from the text we would not have otherwise. This completely changed my perspective on coding and to what it can do.

              First getting into VS code, python and such I had no experience but the coding turned into what was probably my favorite part of the class. I had heard of python and other popular coding languages. I always had some bit of an interest in learning to code but I had always put it off as something for the future. In some ways because I didn’t know anything about it I thought it might be something that would be way to technical in terms of the fact you can’t make any mistakes in typing for me to personally like it. After getting first hand experience starting out learning a bit I came to realize that coding is definitely something I can learn and thrive at. That is one thing I will always take from this class is that first introduction to something that is going to be very important to know how to do in the future. I look forward to learning a lot more about coding in the future and I will always appreciate the first look into it!

The effect of computing on innovation in the humanities

I like Stanford’s definition of the humanities on their humanities website. Their definition is “the study of how people process and the document the human experience.” This manifests into many different academic fields like philosophy, literature, history, language, and several other subject that all fit under the humanities umbrella. Computing or the use of computers completely changes the way that we can process and document these subjects. In order to further develop the humanities, people will still process their own experience in the same way but the human experience has changed due to the vast globalization that computing has aided. The scope of what can be processed and accessed is vastly higher through the internet and all of the information that is stored online.

A part of the reading from Gleick that really stood out to me was the part of chapter 3 that talks about how words were spelled. In the reading it talked about how each time that someone sat down to write something they came up with the spelling however they saw fit. “In fact, few had the concept of spelling—the idea that each word, when written, should take a particular predetermined form of letters” (p. 53) I was very surprised to read this because in my mind the way that words are spelled are so set in stone. However, in actuality it was only four centuries ago that most people didn’t even have the concept of words having a specific order. When I was reading this, I related this to how quickly documentation as a whole has progressed. The state of information technology was so poor compared to what we have now. The influx of computers and the internet into our daily lives completely changes what is possible in terms of documentation, the information you can find, and the sharing of this information. Nowadays you can access information on the humanities from all around the world. This gives those trying to innovate and learn more about these certain subjects way more material to widen their own thinking. So much of philosophy, literature, and language has been developed during times where access to information was so limited. The ability to access information that computing has given us makes me believe that we can progress in any subject at a faster rate. Nowadays, the average person who is interested in a subject can learn from experts in fields that they would have no chance to learn about in the past. This gives many people the ability to fast track their experience learning from the past. Subsequently giving them much more time and experience to innovate within their fields and compare with people all around the world.

I also found chapter 5 to be interesting in how many different ways people tried to develop the telegraph. I think that this shows that some of the great minds at that time realized the effect that quick transfers of information could possibly have to life. Later in the chapter, there is a part that talks about telegraph in a way that I thought was interesting. It says “ the telegraph served not just as a device but as a medium—a middle, intermediary state. The concept of using some sort of medium to transfer information is used in computers all the time and is one of its greatest functions. With modern computers we have all sorts of different websites that act as mediums that can be very specific to what the individual person wants to find. This ties into the point I made the last paragraph regarding the ability to progress within subjects. Now that we have all of these built in mediums in the internet our access to information is incredible. The more minds that are able to access education in certain fields will inevitably progress the fields at a faster rate in terms of innovation then we have ever seen.