Final thoughts

Thanks for another great semester, everyone.  For your final post, comment on the text (or texts) that you found most engaging or illuminating this fall.  As with the other posts, be sure to include some textual evidence in your comments.

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6 responses to “Final thoughts

  1. I enjoyed this class more than I thought I would. This is not a typical class and I am glad for that. I learned new things and participated in discussions on topics that are actually relevant to current times. The texts I enjoyed the most were the three novels, particularly Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. I have always been interested in science fiction and the concept of the cyborg. Another class that I have thoroughly enjoyed this semester is my philosophy class. I love the way these two classes relate to and enhance each other. I was able to pick out the philosophical issues P.K. Dick was getting at in his novel thanks to both classes. The other texts I enjoyed were the ones by Turkle and Bogost on Video Games and the more challenging but intriguing “A Cyborg Manifesto” by Donna Haraway. These articles were a breath of fresh air after years of reading boring text books. I cannot wait to take more classes that incorporate similar topics and offer more opportunities to discuss current issues.

  2. The digital humanities class itself has been “intellectually stimulating” for me. At first, it was extremely difficult for me to grasp what was being taught in the class. Later, though, after we started reading the novels and articles on video games, social media and politics, I started to understand the subject and got really interested in it. The text which I found to be the most engaging and illuminating was Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.
    Before this class, I had not done a lot of technological readings. I thought that technological readings would be monotonously dreary. Yet Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was a page-turner for me, because it proved me wrong. This book is in many ways human. It incorporates the topic of the androids and the consequences of their co-existence with humans. The reason that I like this book the most is that it isn’t entirely technical. For instance, I had a really hard time reading Neuromancer because I could not understand most of the technical jargons. Moreover, I think the main reason that I did not understand the text is the fact that it only covered a technical aspect.
    On the other hand, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep discusses feministic, philosophical and ecological aspects along with the technological one. Digital Brother by Doctrow was equally engaging. Yet, I have a special inclination towards philosophy, hence I prefer Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep to other readings. Another reason for selecting this text is the fact that it is not as misogynistic as the movie, Bladerunner, although it was based on the book.I admire the portrayal of women, especially that of Rachel.
    Therefore, I am specially penchant towards Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, mainly because it compelled me to think from a technological, philosophical, and feminist viewpoint.

  3. Digital Humanities allowed me to visit existing opinions of technology, but also introduced me to new ones as well. The text that was of interest to me was Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother. Set in the near future, it blends together digital culture, romance, privacy issues, and multiple online identities. Multiple identities in the novel, is an issue that Marcus deals with time after time. Marcus and his friends live complete separate lives than the ones they live with their families. Marcus says: “I told them (his parents) that I was getting sleepy, which was true, and mooched up to my room. I wasn’t going to bed though. I needed to get online and find out what’s going on” (Doctorow 80). Reading this plainly states that Marcus has an issue because he can’t even trust his own parents with knowing his multiple online identities. Online, Marcus is known as M1k3y and this interferes with his identity in reality. The ideas and concepts that he develops as M1k3y honestly messes with Marcus and this raises questions about what is real vs. not real in his mind. Marcus is far too preoccupied with the online/digital world that is created for him through video games. The multiple online identities cause big problems with Marcus and his friends when they are caught in the middle of the attack on San Francisco. They innocently skipped school to participate in HMF, but find themselves in trouble, and are interrogated. (Doctorow 23-34)
    In modern day, people of all ages struggle with multiple online identities, for example, cyber-bullies, pedophiles, and the well-known group Anonymous. Each of them hides behind a metaphorical mask that shields their true identity and allows for a fake identity to be put forth for all to see. In their defense, it is legally their choice to be anonymous, but as stated previously, negatives are also present.

  4. This course has truly opened my eyes to the world of technology and the effects it has on society and individual human beings. The two texts that I found the most illuminating were Remediation by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, and Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins. Both texts discuss the integration of new technology into society and emphasize that no medium or technology stands alone. People tend to think of types of technology battling against each other. However, this is far from the case. Jenkins references Jesse Walker who says “The old media and the new media weren’t at loggerheads with each other—or to the extent that they were, they were also at loggerheads with themselves. They complimented each other. They were part of an ecosystem…” (213). Jenkins is suggesting that no new medium can be founded and survive alone. Because the new medium stems from the old medium, it cannot survive without its predecessor. Jenkins says that “It is a mistake to think about either kind of media power in isolation. Our evolving system of media convergence is full of checks and balances (212).” These checks and balances that Jenkins speaks of are the ties the new medium has to the old medium. There is a period of transition between new and old medium and the new medium must accommodate users of the older technology.
    Furthermore, Bolter and Grusin would assert that there really is no such thing as an entirely new medium. Because nothing is created without being influenced by the world it is created in, there is no “new” medium, but simply a remodeling or remediation of the old. Bolter and Grusin explain that “…a medium is that which remediates” (65). The entire function of a medium is to change and hopefully improve upon the current way of life. Therefore, “A medium in our culture can never operate in isolation, because it must enter into relationships of respect and rivalry with other media…isolation does not seem possible for us today, when we cannot even recognize the representational power of a medium except with reference to other media” (Boltin and Grusin 65). The only means society has of judging a “new” medium is by comparing it to past mediums. A medium is created as revision of another medium and is therefore permanently linked with it. This examination of convergence and remediation helped me to understand the links current technology has to the past, and in turn to our society.

  5. I can honestly say that I was not a big fan of the technological and historical readings. I thought I would die. But then we moved more into the modern use of technology and how it can be both playful and powerful. I have to say that I have really enjoyed all of the readings about video games and social media. “Little Brother”, I felt, was a great read. I loved how Marcus used his Xbox to start a revolution; a rebellion against the DHS. I also really enjoyed learning about how video games can have a major impact in a person’s life. Video games can be bad or good; for example, Ian Bogost says that they can “teach their content, and if that content ought to be negatively reinforced, then exposure to such games positively reinforces negative content” or they can “teach abstract principles that service general problem-solving skills and learning values”. I also really enjoyed learning about Jane McGonigal and her game “World Without Oil”. But what I loved even more than learning about the video games was learning about the use of social media. Facebook is being used for more than posting statuses. Learning about Allan Kaprow’s happenings was really interesting in that he was way ahead of his time and that happenings can be used to draw attention and make a statement. The use of social media allows for these happenings and flash mobs to go viral and get even more people involved. I also enjoyed learning about how the Egyptians, Occupiers, and Anonymous used social media to reach out to people and kept everyone involved. All in all, I found the last half of the semester to be really engaging and a wonderful learning experience.

  6. The most interesting text for me was Little Brother. It was the most engaging to me, possibly because it is more in the adolescent fiction genre then the science fiction. It gave great background information on all the technical terms and words that Doctorow used which was very helpful because I personally know very little, if anything, about the technology he used – it was like a whole new world for me. The most interesting concept to me about the book were the ones that I researched for my paper: the relationship between Marcus and Ange as well as the depictions of Ange and Severe Haircut in the novel.

    Relationships in stories always seem to intrigue me. The different dynamics of people and how they work together are interesting to me and I love seeing how authors display affection and friendship. Doctorow creates a good, healthy balance between affection and friendship between Marcus and Ange. They are a couple that engages physically and sexually, but at the same time they have a partnership and friendship that goes far deeper than the physical nature of the relationship. When describing their interview with Barbara Stratford and the explanations they made about the technology, he says, “we made an excellent team. We’d trade off explaining how it all worked”(267). Doctorow chose to depict a teenage relationship that is more than simply sex which amazes me. Teenagers see enough relationships based on sex in television and movies – it’s refreshing to see it viewed in a different light.

    Doctorow’s depiction of women in the novel is also interesting. He chose to show very different characteristics of a person in two different females. I appreciate his variety of personality traits because none of the women in the novel were the stereotypical submissive and servant-like. Ange was headstrong and independent, yet stood by Marcus and was loyal. On the other hand, Severe Haircut was also headstrong and independent but to an extreme. She had very masculine traits, even physically with her – as her nickname suggests – severe haircut. Doctorow does a great job in his extent of assortment of characteristics, which makes me more appreciative of his novel.

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