A Class that Opens New Perspectives- Eve Angelo

While taking Literature and Literary Study in the Digital Age, I’ve learned a lot about my computer, and defining what objects are in the new digital age. I’ve never been interested much in technology; It always seemed too complicated and overwhelming to even start learning. While taking this class, I’ve learned a lot about my own personal device, and how to make command lines and codes. Growing up, I’ve always observed my brothers play on their fancy computers and do things I’ve never been able to do. Now that I’ve taken this class, I can finally understand the things they discuss and relate to them. When it comes to defining objects in the digital age, it’s difficult to make one definition with all these new resources coming to light. For example, we discussed in class “what is a book?” At first, I was adamant on saying a book is simply words on paper glued together with a cover. Now looking back, I can see how that would be incorrect. With the rise of technology -and its accessibility to people- books have adapted to this as well, and have started to become digital. Audio books, e-books and kindle readers have expanded this definition of what a book can be. Books don’t need to be paper and glue; As long as it shares a story to others, its all the same.

Understanding Computers: From Mystical to Manageable

Before Starting this Class

I was markedly ‘anti-computer’ in my scholarship before. I would pay more for a physical copy of a book instead of a computer copy, I would take all of my notes by hand, and I would write out essays in a notebook before typing them up. I really thought that it was better – for learning, and also just personal preference. I was really comfortable in the aspect of my identity that said “I’m not good with computers.” And this wasn’t really for lack of trying – I tried to be tech-savvy and to be ‘modern’ in my use of technology, and it just didn’t really work for me – I always got tripped up and frustrated and would return to my comfort zone of paper and pen.

The Process

However, just through the first few weeks of this class, I have gained so much comfortability in using a computer in different ways than I ever had before. If you had told me last fall that I could use code to make my computer do things for me, I would not have believed you, and probably would have laughed. Even just understanding the file system of a computer was a huge step for me, let alone navigating it through GitBash. I was so surprised when my script to open up, name, and edit a markdown journal file actually worked – it just never seemed like something I’d be able to do. I think a lot of this had to do with how it was framed – I had always considered computers to be something like magic – something that is to be used as much as you can, but outside of my capacity for understanding. Understanding how computing in the modern sense came to be really helped, and so did a systematic breakdown and intuitive flow through information. This all made it seem possible to undersand, and much less mysterious and magical.

The Results

This increase in knowledge and skill in regards to computers has really changed the way I am living my day-to-day life. I had always used a bound paper planner – on that I used a ruler to draw, since no planners I could find worked for how I was using it. This took so much time and effort – and this isn’t to bash paper planners, because I still use it some and I still really love the process that went into it – but it was restrictive because of the time it took. Since starting this class, I have been really able and willing to transfer my planner organization onto a notion page and use it to keep track of deadlines and tasks and events, and it’s so much quicker and easier than copying things over by hand. I have also started – not only in this class, where it’s an assignment – to take notes on my laptop and actually be able to focus while doing so. I don’t lament having to read or write on my computer anymore – and I think that’s just a byproduct of actually understanding what’s happening when I’m using it.

Technology: A Class that Changed My View

This course changed my perspective on computers and how they could be used. I registered for this course not knwoing what to expect, but I am glad that I chose this course. In the past, I used my computer to do my school work and play videogames. But now I see it’s more than simply a tool. It’s like a key to understanding human behavior.

Thinking back on everything that I’ve learned in the Digital Humanities course so far, it’s been interesting. In this course, the books that are assigned for us to read are “Broad Band” by Claire L. Evans, “The Book” by Amaranth Borsuk, and Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden”. I had no idea how much women had contributed to computing history until I read “Broad Band”. Learning about their job is important for me since it provides a new perspective that is often ignored. “The Book” showed how books have evolved throughout time. It helped me realize how technology and literature are connected. Using Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” in the course has helped me think more about the relationship between books and computers, especially because Thoreau discusses technology in the book.

I’ve learned a few basics regarding the computer side of language and literature and I am looking forward to learning more. Exploring the file system and learning the command line is very different and actually pretty fun. I never expected to be interested in learning how files are arranged, yet here I am. Navigating the file system and using the command line is like discovering something completely new on my computer that I never really knew existed. Learning to use computer tools for literary study has increased my knowledge of technology in general. I am a big fan of computers and I have always felt that computers are very benefical to use now and will most defintely be in the future. I’ve even started using what I’ve learned in this course with my other courses to make my life easier. This class sparked my interest in how computers may be used for literary analysis, which is something I had not considered previously.

Also, the course taught me how to use Terminal on my MacBook. I’ll be honest, Terminal used to scare me when it was first introduced to me. My first opinion on Terminal was that I was very confused. Seeing all different commands and trying to understand everything before being taught, I felt like I had no chance to gain anything from this course. Now, it feels like a powerful tool in my hands that I am learning more of day by day. Learning to command my computer through Terminal has not only increased my confidence but has also allowed me to use my MacBook in a new way.

Thinking about this Digital Humanities course reminded me of when I wanted to be a computer science major when I was in High School. My father suggested me to pursue my career with this major but it never worked out. I always had like a passion for computers, especially when I started learning what a graphics card is, what a motherboard is, CPU, GPU, etc. Even though I ended up taking a different major, this class just reminded me of that time. It’s like a connection between the technology I was into back then and the literature I’m into now. Back then I wanted to learn how to build computers and learn programming. This course is a great opportunity to combine my previous interest in computers with my current interest in literature.

In summary, this course changed my view on technology and literature. It is not just about what is in the books, but also how we use technology to comprehend them. This Digital Humanities course has given me new ideas and increased my confidence in the technology side of things.

How I Learned To Like A Computer Class

I remember the first computer class that I took my freshman year of high school. It had a unique name that I can’t recall because it didn’t solely involve computers, but physics, woodworking and welding. It was a required course, like home economics, intended to teach us valuable life skills. I was, for the first time in my school career, completely out of my element. I got by alright with the building, primarily due to my childhood experiences following Lego direction booklets (if you’ve ever attempted to follow a Lego build, you know that can be much harder than it looks). When it came to the computers though, I was completely and utterly lost. It was like attempting to read a language where you can’t even recognize the letters. As I recall, I got by because of my best friend at the time, who is, appropriately, now going to school for mechanical engineering. When the year was over, I vowed never to take a computer-related class ever again.

Yet here I am in Literature Study in the Digital Age, learning how to use the terminal, write commands, understand markup and XML/TEI. Like the class’s name says, we’re in a digital age and it’s valuable to know computers. So I’m trying to learn.

One part of the class that I’ve really enjoyed so far is learning about the history of computers and literature. Broad Band in particular is a fascinating read because it shows the extent to which women were involved in the history of the computer and were the earliest users. I think reading it actually helped me become more confident in my ability to navigate the class. This actually connects to the Social Psychology class that I’m taking as we’re learning about the ways in which stereotypes create self-fulfilling prophecies, where people start to believe and act out the stereotypes that others put on us. There is a stereotype that women aren’t good with computers and that computer science is a men’s field. However, Broad Band directly contradicts that idea which I think has made me feel better about my abilities in this class.

I’ve also enjoyed learning about all the hidden features in my computer that I didn’t know existed, such as the terminal. For example, I had no idea that you could create and organize files using the command line. Additionally, the fact that plain-text files are almost endlessly transferable across computer systems is very cool and it’s changed my perspective on specific word processing systems and companies such as Apple or Microsoft. It’s opened my eyes and made me more curious about the limits imposed by some tech companies.

To wrap this up, I no longer hold a grudge against computer-focused classes (though I still despise Lego directions) and I think I’ve learned a lot of valuable tools and knowledge in this class so far. I’m excited to see what the next part of the semester brings.

My Extensive Progression In ENGL 340 Thus Far

Thus far while taking ENGL 340, I have learned so much more about the capabilities of my computer than I originally thought I would be able to. When signing up for this course, I had not expected the vast amount of technical work that would be taught to me to help me learn to use my computer more efficiently. Regarding what I have specifically learned, the most obvious is certainly the use of Markdown files. Before starting this course I was completely unaware of what a terminal window was and honestly, when I started learning how to operate the Markdown file, I found it incredibly difficult and frustrating. I had to set up a meeting with my professor to properly download the Visual Studio Code Application since I was unable to get it working in class. After several classes where I was unable to follow along with the lesson, I was slightly overwhelmed however once I troubleshot with my professor and fixed the problem, I felt much more confident in using Markdown.

One of the main things I have noticed about my progression throughout the semester is my increase in confidence in using my computer. Before starting the course I would constantly say,” I’m terrible with technology” and would usually be too afraid to mess with anything on my computer. What I have enjoyed about this course specifically is that we have been taught to try multiple ways to fix a problem if we are to come across one. This mentality has stuck with me and I have found myself being able to solve problems that I would previously not even attempt to.

Another thing that has shocked me about this course is the amount of connections between computers and English that I had never truly noticed. When starting the course, I truly did not believe that there was a strong correlation between the two, and I have come to change my view on this completely. One lecture that stuck out to me was when my class got into what a book truly is. My original opinion was that a book is a physical object with pages, and a spine, bound together that contains knowledge meant to inform or entertain the reader. While I still know this to be true, my horizons have expanded after the discussion that online books should be considered a books just the same. With the evolution of technology, it is changing the way that we view many things. Things such as the news which used to solely be on paper and now digital as well, similar to how books are evolving.

Very recently, I noticed that what I have been learning in this course has been similar to my Wrtg: Utopia & Al/Race & Time. In the class, we recently watched a TED talk about the importance of science fiction as a tool to analyze certain societal issues such as racism, inequity, etc. The speaker, Chuck Adler, mentioned how science fiction writing has predicted many important technological advancements such as cell phones and even space travel. I found it fascinating just how interrelated the humanities and technology were throughout the TED Talk and it reminded me of the lessons we have been learning in this course.

I am hoping to keep learning about my computer so that I can operate it with even more efficiency as the semester progresses. One thing I am excited to learn is how to navigate the web more smoothly and hopefully be able to be able to learn about syntax as well since we have had several small discussions about it, however I am still unsure of exactly what it is. I am excited to continue to grow my knowledge for the remainder of the course.

The Unnoticed Women Throughout History

As I began registering for this class, I was unsure what the outcome would be. Truthfully, the aspects I have learned in this class have appeared different from my initial thoughts. I believed that we would only be learning about how computers have changed literature and how progressive literature has gotten. While this is a slight glimpse of what I have learned, I have gained so much more of an understanding of the history and future of computers. An aspect that has stayed in my mind throughout the semester is how involved women were in the advancement of computers.

During the first days of classes, while going through and commenting on The Untold Story of the Women who Made the Internet: BroadBand, it was so intriguing to see how many of my peers also had no idea about women during the development of computing. To go into more detail, during World War II, a whole new technology emerged, making it easier to mark and drop bombs when needed. Yet, Evans states that without the assistance of women in the computing process, the men would have never known where to drop the bombs. “Men may have dropped bombs, but it was women who told them where to do it.”(53). This information is shocking because it feels that although the women were not physically fighting in the war, they did not receive the credit they deserved. While reading further, what was additionally startling was even after all of the help provided during the war, once it ended, there were no guaranteed jobs for women.

So, this then goes into what I would like to learn and become more knowledgeable about. I feel that it is substantially important to know who was part of a creation that is so prominent in our everyday lives. It feels especially noteworthy when those vital people who were part of history do not get any credit for their developments. Before this class, I did not know that women were involved with computers because no one had ever educated me on it. I suppose when you consider an event like World War II, you think of the soldiers who physically fought. Nevertheless, it is also crucial to consider women’s computing and being behind the technological part that allowed the soldiers to complete their work as safely and efficiently as possible.

It has become apparent to me that a woman’s work usually goes unnoticed and unappreciated regardless of the impact it has or could make. As exemplified above, even after all of the consistent service women provided during the war, were still viewed as useless and not as competent as men. Various companies similar to Remington Rand, continued to have an “old-school” mindset, refusing to hire a woman to do computing, joining the navy, or mathematics. The men running these companies believed that women could never understand any installations they created.

Betty Holberton, however, proved these companies wrong by creating “Betty’s Sort-Merge Generator”, the first time a computer was used to write a program that wrote a program. Before this, many computers thought that this would be impossible, let alone a woman would invent it. The section about Betty’s Sort-Merge Generator was my favorite because it accurately portrayed the power of women and changed their lives forever.

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 ./journal.sh, 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.