Final Thoughts

We’ve covered a wide range of material this semester, including discussions about how digital media influence literary theory, art history, philosophy and politics–not to mention the ways we define ourselves as human beings!  Consider our readings, from Vannevar Bush’s early concept of the computer to Donna Haraway’s claims about our burgeoning “cyborg” consciousness.  What reading or readings did you find most surprising, engaging or challenging this semester and why?  What did you take away from Digital Humanities that you have not experienced in other courses?  You may also include links from the course blog in your comments.

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7 responses to “Final Thoughts

  1. The Gulag Orkestar

    I truly appreciate this course as I find myself socially more connected with people of different generations, gender and interests. I was able to exchange my understandings of new media with my family members, with my guy friends and people from various areas of studies (philosophy, art, music, etc). The course does a great job examining significant meanings of new media, the age of technology and how we can utilize it as a tool to advocate for social reforms.
    Coming from a more traditional upbringing, I did not anticipate such quirky and perhaps outrageous approaches towards art and technology. I find the televisions installation by Nam June Paik and dissonant mechanical machinery sounds by John Cage extremely amusing; something that I have to take a step back and another step forward to contextualize for my own understanding. Perceiving video games and social networking sites positively is also a great aspect that I get out of this class, in a way, I learn to appreciate these creations more than just “products of capitalism in the 21st century” and “consumerism.”
    I think by offering this course here at Wesleyan College, the institution is doing a much better job educating women, breaking the social stereotypes of women versus technology, thus, allowing us to challenge ourselves with the “unusual.”

  2. The one thing that I enjoyed the most and will probably stick with me the longest is Scott McCloud’s “Time Frames.” I really enjoyed how he used a comic to explain how time in comics works. I am a very visual learner so having something shown to me while it was being explained was very captivating. I never thought of how the time is panels of comics are organized and how he says “Our eyes have been well-trained by the photograph and by representational art to see any single continuous image as a single instant in time” (714). This is very true, but now computers can complicate this. Say you’re reading a comic on line and one frame takes up the whole page. Well depending on how “long” the page is one frame might go on indefinitely, by scrolling. So, one frame could take a long time to read. I’m not sure what this means for comics online, but it should be interesting is see it develop.

  3. For me, this course was an insight into a whole new field that I have become very interesting in. I thoroughly enjoyed every “dense” text that we read, because I was able to take the links from those pieces and explore many new ideas and writings. Like stumbling upon a popular “YouTuber” years after they started, it was really fun to discover Digital Humanities and New Media at this point and then going back through and reading all that was written on Computers and the humanities from a few decades ago until now. One of my favorite readings that we had was “Literary Machines”, especially when Ted Nelson stated that literature was “an ongoing system of interconnecting documents”. This is a belief that I have always held, and I believe that it is readings that are dense with interconnectivity that end up being the most interesting. The connections to Philosophy, Science, Mathematics and all the theories made the class even more interesting.

  4. I enjoyed this course. Before taking this course I never thought about the logic that goes into me using a computer. Things that most interest me were the section on artificial intelligence because it is strange and scary to think that something we as humans create could be smarter than us and the selection on gaming culture was also interesting because I am not a gamer so it was great to find out what makes people so fascinated with games. The articles “Is Google making us Smarter” and “Is Google Making Us Stupid” were also fascinating in that we use the internet to look up so many things but never really think about the effect it has on us not using our brain. But I would have to agree with the article “Is Google Making Us Smarter” in that it says “There’s nothing unnatural about relying on the Internet- Google and all- for information. After all we are constantly consulting the world around us like a kind of visual Wikipedia. Nor is there anything bad about our brains’ being altered by these technologies, any more than there is something bad about a monkey’s brain changing as it learns how to play with a rake.”I believe that this class has opened my eyes to all the many possibilities of things that could have with the growth of the computer. If there was anything I would change about the course it would be my knowledge on the entire computer lingo.

  5. As a Computer Information Systems major, I was really sure how this class would help in the future. To be honest, I thought this class was just going to be a filler class so I can have enough credit hours, but I was wrong. This class has helped me understand why technology is so important in my generation. Technology shapes the way we feel about art, politics, and philosophy. The thing I learned in this class has change the way I think about technology. Now when I use technology, I think about how it is affecting the way I think about the world I live in.

    One thing that really interested me in the class was Jane McGonigal’s theory on using virtual games to solve real life situations. As a generation that cannot live without our computer and video games, we will be able to use the skills we learn through those mediums to solve major issues. I think that is a fascinating concept.

  6. Being a studio art major and art history minor myself I have experienced a wide range of visual arts, but a fine arts education tends to lack digital media. The Digital Humanities class has opened my eyes to a number of new artistic mediums and techniques that don’t necessarily require canvas and paint. The reading I found most interesting this semester was Four Selections by Experiments in Art and Technology, describing their collaborative production of “9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering”. Here, a semi-new form of art is introduced in the form of happenings, or one-time-only artistic productions that are usually very expressive and raw, often times literally pulling the viewer into the art form itself. While this new type of theatre was highly criticized by most, it allowed people to experience art via actual participation, as was the case for the Pavilion. Billy Klüver describes the Pavilion’s audience participation as this, “the visitor would be encouraged as an individual to explore the environment and compose his own experience.” The experience isn’t the same for everyone and cannot be interpreted the exact same way twice, not to mention the limited amount of time in which it occurs, making it a very unique form of artistic expression. I believe this fast-paced form of artistic production influenced the visual arts I’m more familiar with of the time and continues to play a part in producing the raw artistic expression of today.

  7. I have to say that this course has definitely changed the way I think about computers. I had never really thought about the philosophy and history behind the technology I use, nor the cultural impact it has made and continued to make at every level.

    I think the readings that had the most effect on me were the early ones about hypertext and the readings about collective intelligence and gamers. I’ve been interested in both subjects for a very long time (hypertext in how it affects fiction and gaming because… I’m a gamer, lol) and the readings by Moulthrop and Coover, as well as the videos and articles by Jane McGonigal all served to give me a new perspective in an areas that I sort of overlooked, despite their almost constant presence in my life. The new perspective shed light on a new way of thinking and the how technology changed me without me even realizing.

    I really wish I’d have taken a bit of philosophy before I took this course so I could fully appreciate some of the background of the readings, but overall I really enjoyed the course. Is there a follow-up for digital humanities?

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