Author: Shelby Schmigel

The Dream: My computer and a toaster

As I approach the end of my final year at Geneseo, I am slowly trying to hold onto any and all knowledge I can get my hands on. It feels like the past 3 years were wasted in some ways and now I have to consume and devourer any information that comes my way. The years and classes have somewhat blurred together and honestly I’m glad some of the information was lost along the way.

The classes this semester are just as challenging as ever. I may walk away with horrid memories of this semester with a final senior paper to write for my history major. But one class I hope I hold onto is this class, Digital Humanities. And I’m not just saying that to try and boast my grade. Rather, the information I am learning in this class is so relevant to the world I am about to enter and to not use it in my future would be a mistake.

In the past few months I have enjoyed working with Atom and learning how I can use it for many tasks. I am actually writing this in Atom as we speak and knowing how to italicize and bold an item is helpful and I can do it with ease thanks to the practice I have had in class. I have to say that I struggle with a lot of functions within Vbox. I find it runs very slow for me and while I can follow along with the steps provided, it feels way over my head. I can understand how Atom works and how to best use certain command inputs in Vbox but as soon as it gets slightly more complicated I find myself confused and afraid to mess up. In a way this fear drives me to keep trying and keep at the task until I have it figured out.

I have enjoyed trying to learn command input in Vbox’s terminal. The specifics of how to move to more specific information within the terminal (Desktop -> Folder -> Item) is one of the things I have actually been able to do successfully and I’m a bit proud of that. I know it’s very basic but I can do it confidently within the terminal and its something I actually understand.

One thing I would love to try and do within my Mac’s terminal would actually be this.

While this is a very funny concept to me, I think it is possible to understand through the steps I have learned in this class. This is also a great way to understand how the Terminal can be used to modify any computer. And while I may struggle with this in Vbox, maybe I would really learn it if I could mod a toaster to perform a task for me.

Better Understanding my Computer and the Humanities

In beginning this course, I honestly did not know what to expect. In reading the course description when I initially signed up, I believed I would be creating and running a blog around some readings we would be doing in class. In reading through the syllabus the day before our first class, I quickly realized it would be different than I expected. I believed that we would be covering how those who study the humanities were able to digitize a collection and how they collaborated through new technology. I imagined the class to be us studying how others were using technology instead of us actually being the ones doing it.

The humanities was a strange area for technology to be integrated, in my opinion. When I thought about the humanities, I found myself imagining a large library full of texts and a scholar hunched over a novel. This is may have been the case at one point but it certainly has changed since then. The humanities require collaboration. Humans have always had a need to work together since the dawn of time. Through collaboration, humans built the first civilizations and began to establish a way of life that seems familiar to us today. Most humans today cannot connect with nomads or hunting/gathering societies. We find our roots in Mesopotamia and Egypt in civilizations that have a structure similar to our own.

In studying the humanities, we look back on these early civilizations for answers regarding our beginnings. We want to understand how this all came to be. Well maybe only those who have chosen the study of humanity care about that question; every day people probably have other things on their minds. But regardless, there is a need to know. I believe the reason Google became such a mainstay in our lives is because people want to know. In a under a minute, I could be looking up the works of Rodgers and Hammerstein on my phone and reading about the cultural impact of the musical *Oklahoma.* Humans are constantly seeking answers to all of life’s mysteries or even the most basic questions.

This is why I now understand why technology is so important to the study of the humanities. We want to know and connect with others who share that same interest in the subject. Through collaboration, discoveries are being made with those who live across the ocean. The integration of technology has made it easier for ideas to spread and for new understandings of old texts.

In coming into the course, I saw myself as some sort of advanced novice. I was relatively able to figure out problems with my computer or how to set up programs on my machine through the process of trial and error or just flat out googling the problem. I wasn’t able to understand how to code or read binary but I was able to make something happen somehow.

Technology was a friend to me but it often left me confused and annoyed. I once lost a file for a paper that was due and I lost my mind. I was so upset that laid in bed and cried for a whole afternoon. Of course it was discouraging and I may have overreacted but once I calmed down, I went on a search for the file. The problem was that the auto-recovery feature for Word was saving the files to an obscure folder deep in my hardware. Tracking it down meant going into the containers of Microsoft Word and almost digging it out. Looking back on the incident, I am almost glad that I lost the paper. It was a short one and it hadn’t impacted my grade too much when I turned it in late. It taught me how to find files that were almost hidden within my computer and taught me to be much better about saving my files.

I think that while I’m fairly decent with my computer that I’m weak in fully using it. I am barebones with it and only using it mainly surface level. I would like to expand my knowledge further and understand what processes are being done to make it run. I believe this would make me a better computer user and that I could properly aid my machine if it were to get stuck. I believe more people should have a similar want. Technology is a necessary tool in our modern world. Much of the world is ignorant to the technology because it has developed so rapidly and it is hard to keep up. But I still believe there should be a drive for most people to understand their machine a little bit better than what our current average is. This would make us all a bit smarter and would maybe aid in our relationship with technology.