A Day Without My Phone

Is it easier to live with technology or without technology? Technology unarguably reduces tediousness. It is much more efficient to use Google Maps than a paper map when you need to get to a specific location. Likewise, it is easier to search up a recipe online, rather than thumbing through a cookbook for it. Sure, technology makes life simpler, but is living really easier?

Last summer, I went one whole day without my phone. I could lie and say that I did this on purpose, but in reality, I actually lost my phone. I woke up to an IHome alarm clock that I dragged out of my basement. It was humbling to hit a physical snooze button, rather than tapping a home screen until my phone stops buzzing. I took my dog on a walk to the beach after I got out of bed. Usually, I would use walks with my dog as a prime opportunity to post on social media, but without my phone, I took in the moment. I ran errands. I stood in line and observed the people around me; what they were doing, what they were wearing. This was my first time in a while where I was able to take in my surroundings, and not bounce from app to app on my phone while I pick something up, or while I shop. I listened to the radio in my car, rather than my music on the AUX, and I learned that the radio actually isn’t that bad. To some, a day without their phone may be one of the worst things imaginable. I’m definitely addicted to my phone, but the day I spent without it was actually one of the most calming and peaceful days I’ve ever had.

I would say that life is easier with technology, it assists us and guides us in many different disciplines. However, I would argue that living is easier without being constantly glued to my phone. I can take in the world and see the things that I would often miss. I am able to learn more and do more in my personal life. It’ll probably be a while before I go another day without my phone, but I’m bound to lose it again in my lifetime. When the time comes, I think I actually might look forward to it.

Blog post #2: What I learned, what I didn’t learn, and what I hope I will learn

“By the time I respond to this post at the end of the semester, I hope to have a greater proficiency in html and a better understanding of what can be done with a VM and why we should want to do these things. But mostly, I want to be able to create fuller answers surrounding the question of the digital humanities’ value.”

-Me, earlier this semester.

Part I : Reality Check

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The Reliance on Screens and How it Has Changed our Lives

This past class we talked about How we read: Close, Hyper, Machine we and how it is preventing us from reading to comprehend better due to the media holes. Media holes take away from our original intent of reading an article. After talking about this reading, it got me thinking about our attention spans, how we all have shorter attention spans, and how this could be due to the increase of technology.

While looking into this idea of a lack of attention span, I was talking to Jess, and she told me about a video she found about social media and how we have changed. After watching this video, I have learned that social media can be used in the wrong ways and can become a toxic part of our days. On average people spend 2-3 hours a day on social media, and 3.4 million people use social media every single day. Increase social media use increases the time we use alone and this, in turn, increases anxiety and depression. This is because we are constantly filling every second that we have alone with the time on our phones. This keeps you away from higher quality purposes. With being on our phones so much it is replacing our time we could be using to improve ourselves, and that’s time we can never get back.

The reason I am talking about this video is because our brains are constantly working, but it has become a reflex to open social media every time we open our phone and has become an innate go to when we are alone. I feel that this is also true when it comes to comprehension. Our attention spans have become much shorter because we can constantly scroll with a flick of the thumb or finger and we get something new on our screen. This has increased our idea of skimming while on a screen. You can constantly get distracted when doing homework on screens because of the number of things that are on your screen at once. It has become harder to closely read a text from beginning to end without our minds thinking about what we are thinking and then going to other sources to look into our thinking or to even “feel” and have the urge to go on social media. Our phones can also be a distraction while you are doing a task because your phone is like a cigarette. You become addicted to it and you always need a break at some point to “check” your phone. This is how we get to always going on social media and one task that should take 30 minutes turns into a few hours. Since the increase in technology, there has become a reliance on screens and social media, which can be toxic for people. You lose time on your phone when you could be having that time for yourself. If you delete social media off your phone for 30 days, you can do all the things you wanted to do but never had time for due to us using social media every free second, we have.

Timeline Project

Here are some pictures that we are incorporating for our timeline project.

This is Version G of Walden

This is Version F of Walden

This is Version D


This is Version E


This is version B and C next to each other




Looking Back On Something I Said..

Our final project for ENGL 340 is very research based. My group and I have been spending quite some time in the special collections archives of the Milne Library to gather old articles, newspapers, yearbooks and any other resources from the Harding collection. As I sat there sifting through each stack of papers, articles, books, etc….I said something. Something that relates to our lives now. Something that I guess is something I have unconsciously become dependent on… How scary are those words, unconsciously and dependent on….

So class, here were my words:

 I wish I could just “control F” all of these

You may be thinking okay she made a big deal out of nothing. However, after I said it, I was a little embarrassed. I felt as though part of me was unappreciative of the beautiful historic documents sitting right in front of me. And, don’t get me wrong these documents are so interesting to read. But at that moment, there was so much to get through and such specific entities we were looking for so I said it.

This relates to our course because our world together is so technologically advanced that with the devices at our fingertips, our lives are made so much easier. I mean maybe I am a bad student for saying this but the quick way to find something is to, like I said, “control f”. A simple search command to your computer of a specific word to be able to find something in a quarter of the time it would have taken you to search otherwise.

In relation to life, I want to talk about how our technologically advanced world has a great effect on our words. I’m sure your parents have told you, like mine have told me, “be careful because once you put it out on the internet, it is there forever!” Well, just like there is an archive of tangible documents that my group and I are searching through, their is an “archive” of many things online as well as with our devices. The digital age has made a lot of things easier for us in many ways. However, it is important to note that it does make things harder for us in some ways. In the way that you truly have to be careful of what you post, type, or text with one another because there is always some ways one how that it could come back to you. I mean how many times have you thought about a snack, or talked about something you wanted and BOOM, next time you open your media theres magically an ad for it?? Something so spooky to me. Our technological world has made it very difficult to have a private life. We see this happen in the very premises of our campus. Someone posts an offending message, perhaps not meaning to be offending and repercussions are taken.

So, although I hit a few, but relevant, topics in this short post, I want to re-iterate that I cannot believe I said “I wish I could just “control F” all of these” ALOUD. I feel like if my grandfather heard me, being the anti-tech guy he is, he would reply with a snarky and disappointed head shake whilst saying “ooo you kids these days.” Actually, he probably would not even understand a little bit the words that came out of my mouth, but if he did he would respond like that. Haha.

Moral of the story, think before you act! Our world has made it a lot harder to apologize for our actions due to social medias influence on our lives.

Is Privacy Real?

All throughout the class, we have been using applications and websites to make blog posts, timelines, and more. One big part of using the internet that everyone should be aware of is our privacy. This seems to be a big issue that has arisen since the start of the internet. In Dr. Schacht’s class, when working with the timeline application or Omeka we were shown the option of making our work private. But one option that is not private is our blog posts. Even if we want things to be private, would it really be private? Privacy has been a debate for a while now.

One example that we have seen is Facebook and its privacy terms and conditions. Facebook is known as a place where people can share their information to whom they want and post about their interests. We can change our settings to say who can view our posts and other information that controls what we want private. But even if you do this, it is not really private. This is due to the fact that the creators of Facebook still have the rights to save any and all data about you. In face back in 2018 Facebook had a privacy scandal. This was shown in the New York Times  when they reported that “Facebook gave technology companies like Microsoft, Netflix and Spotify special access to user’s data without anyone else knowing.” Through technology, they have also related a bug to sell the photos and posts of Facebook users to any third-party apps. So, no matter your Facebook settings your information is not private.

Nothing is ever private, and we need to keep that in mind before we ever type or post any sort of content. Once you post something that is on the internet forever and it can never get taken down. Our privacy is our privacy but once we text, tweet, post, etc. about it then it’s not private anymore. IF we want anything to ever be private about us then we can never share it online or text it to anyone. We will have to keep it to ourselves if we want something to stay private.

The Adventures of an English Major in a STEM World

STEM. As English majors, many of us are probably used to hearing this field like it’s our older, cooler brother that we will never live up to. There undoubtably exists a hierarchy of fields to study and work in. In my opinion, here’s a solid (albeit unfortunate) representation (excuse the language in it, though; I just found it!):

I’m interested to see if people agree with the way this hierarchy is laid out. Personally, I was surprised to see Business Studies and Economics so low. This observation leads me to my point: while everyone has their own view of each field’s value (everyone has their own “hierarchy”), what discipline almost always seems to be coming in strong at the bottom?

That’s right. Ours!

Many English folks who feel the same way take a stabbing at STEM. “Put the STEM people in their place!” raged one of my friends. Don’t get wrong: I understand the frustration that is clearly fueling remarks like this one. It’s tiresome to routinely feel under-appreciated by society, especially people closest to you. For instance, your uncle at Thanksgiving who gives you the “…oh…” look when you remind him what your major is, your bio major friend who laughs at you for thinking that your homework is so hard, and maybe one of your parents who urged you to reconsider and proceed with caution as you declared your Lit major.

While these back-handed compliments and condescending storm clouds follow us, allow me to argue that it is important to not let these get to our head. The worst thing we can do? Give flack right back to STEM. Society needs everyone’s talents to function holistically, and that includes the dear humanities…and yes, STEM! Though hierarchies of all the fields (like the one above) are everywhere, they ultimately are propelling the issue of competition between disciplines. Only when we realize every field exists on equal grounds is when our society will function at peak performance. The more people bash the humanities, the less students will want to study them, so the less we will see new books, music, art, and media.

Let’s learn to embrace each and every discipline and try to make efforts to diminish the hierarchies that exist inside our own heads. In fact, doesn’t it get tiring having to argue all the time?

(Oh, wait…we can vouch that is does. After all, how many argumentative essays have we composed? I know I stopped counting.)

How Assistive Technology Has Changed Special Education

With the growing span of technology in modern society many aspects of society are being changed. For example, at the grocery store we now have the option to scan our own items at the self check out which 30 years ago was never thought of. This same idea applies to the field of Special Education which is the education of students with diverse abilities. Special Education was established relatively recently which many find shocking, in 1975 the first public law pertaining to educating those with disabilities entitled “The Education for all Handicapped Children Act”. Before this act many children were institutionalized and lived in horrible conditions and this was documented by Geraldo Rivera’s “Willowbrook” expose. This law was later changed to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1990 and gave students with disabilities the right to free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. I personally find this shocking that the education of students with disabilities was ignored for so long but in the classrooms today it is much improved.

Special Education has benefited so much from technology and without it many students would be unable to even communicate let alone learn. Assistive Technology are devices that assist those with disabilities in their everyday lives as well as in the classroom. For example, a child with cerebral palsy could have trouble producing speech and their motor functions and with a device that uses what is called “eye gaze” they can simply look at a specific word or picture on a screen and the device will produce speech. If a child with a disability has great motor skills they can use an Ipad app called “Proloquo2go” which allows for them to form sentences by choosing from pictures on a screen and it will generate speech for them. Speech generation devices are so powerful because so many individuals with disabilities before this assistive technology were unable to express their thoughts and learn in the classroom and now they finally have a voice and that is so powerful. Another example of an assistive technology device is navigation assistance so that students with visual impairments can navigate their school and other environments with ease. This device speaks aloud to you while you are walking and tells you what you are near and how far you are away from where you are trying to go. Special Educators now can use this assistive technology in the classroom and can easily adapt their instruction to their students. There are forms of this technology that can help individuals with various types of disabilities learn in the classroom and in life and without technology the education of these individuals would be completely different.

The Perks of Digital Humanities

I’ll admit that I signed up for Digital Humanities because it was the only class during Add/Drop week that fit my schedule. I enrolled in the class at 7 a.m. on Monday morning (or maybe it was Wednesday) and by 12:20 I was sitting in Bailey Hall waiting for class to start. I was skeptical at first, to sign up for a course that had digital in the title, since I don’t exactly consider myself to be a technology mogul. I decided to give the class my best shot, and I can safely say that I have not been disappointed. Every class I learn something new. I guess that’s the point of all classes, but I continuously find myself being able to learn and apply the skills that I learned in Digital Humanities. I made my own Google Map for my trip to Florida, in order to remember all of the places I wanted to go. I used Atom to write a prompt for my History of the English Language course. I signed up for Omeka, and over the summer I am planning to create my own digital exhibit that will most likely detail my Freshman year at Geneseo. I believe that Digital Humanities is extremely versatile and I have found that it has helped me expand my knowledge into an array of other disciplines. It is unique to take a class where you can learn new skills and be able to use them outside of the course. For example, I didn’t exactly find myself using my knowledge of covalent and ionic bonds outside of Gen Chem I. I already recommend James Gleick’s The Information and WordPress to all of my friends, and from this point on I think I’ll start recommending Digital Humanities as well.

The use of Omeka and Timeline

Recently in class, we have been playing around with the Omeka application. I’ve learned that you don’t want to think of Omeka as an open blog post to vent your ideas, but rather, look at Omeka as an online museum which contains artifacts. With playing around with Omeka I started to make an online museum about my life and showing how I got here today. As I was doing this in class, I started to think about how I could use these ideas and connect it to my final project in the class which uses the Knight Lab timeline tool. Both of these tools can be used in the same way, but they are very different applications.

When I think of Omeka now I think about it as a timeline about someone’s life history. But you don’t see the timeline, rather, you see the exhibits which can be like a timeline. You can click through the different pages and see the history of that person’s life. This is exactly what I am doing with my final project on the timeline website. My group is doing the history of how the book Walden by Henry David Thoreau came to be. We are doing what is shown in Omeka but in our project, you can actually see a picture of a timeline with a point on it explaining what he did at this date/ time period. I feel that these two tools are connected. If I use my Omeka website as an example, I started putting together an online museum of my life and the history of how I got to SUNY Geneseo. I could grab all of these pages that I started to make and put it all on the timeline website. I could start with the day I was born and add captions explaining each event I would decide to put in there. On the timeline tool, you can also add as many pictures as you want. One difference between the two is that you can pinpoint when the exact event was on the timeline, and in Omeka you would put the date either in the caption or as the title of that exhibit. But it is the same story that can be told on different tools.

As I have mentioned before; I am studying to be a teacher. After learning about these applications, I found that this would be a great project that I could assign in my classroom or use in class to do the history of an author in literacy, or of how electricity was invented in science. I feel that these tools can be used in all subjects and not just in history class. This is also a great way to get the students excited about researching a time period, event, or person and then have them explain it to their other classmates. These could be fun projects that aren’t the same activities over and over again. Another way that I thought I could use this is to use it as a project rather than have them take a test; it is still testing what they learned but they don’t have to get as stressed about taking an exam. I also think it’s good to mix up giving students tests and projects because then they can focus on learning rather than just memorizing, I know I enjoyed this mixing up of testing growing up.