Introduction to Digital Humanities

RELI/ENGL 39, Fall 2015, University of the Pacific

Author: m_tran41

Palladio and Digital Mapping.

Palladio has been stressful and confusing for me at first but I really liked how Dr. S gave us such detailed instructions! Detailed instructions like this would have been so helpful with past applications. Anyhow, I followed the directions and ended up mapping out dates of birthdays and death dates. All these randoms dates came up and I thought it was pretty cool. I am starting to get a better idea of how we can actually use maps to learn. I never thought of learning through a map besides maybe with math. When creating the map of birthdays and deaths, I had to access the website and figure out what to do. If it was not for the detailed instructions I would have never known that I had to go to sample with data and figure out what options I had. The graph was showing the dates of those of have passed  and we could tell that many people died around the same time and a lot were around the same age ranges. Now that I understand more about mapping and learning, I feel like maybe I was biased before because the readings we had convinced me that mapping is some how distorting information.  In this case I do not feel like any information was distorted and it was actually more interesting seeing it this way. This way I got a visual of the dates which I feel helped a lot more.

The only problem I had with Palladio was my datasets has some type of problem that I could not figure out. Palladio kept saying that there was something wrong with my dataset on line 8. I could not figure out what was wrong so it was really frustrating.

A map is not a picture!!!!

This reading really got me thinking. How efficient are the maps that we use? The ones on our phones gps systems, are they at all accurate? I like how the author compares photographed maps to magazine covers. As most of us know, celebs that are on the covers of magazines look nothing like they do in real life. Things are edited and changed to look more appealing to the audience. The same thing is clearly done with maps! First of all, like the author said, the world is round but we have to turn it into a flat form in order to use it. I do think that this is more convenient for people who need to use a map. We do not want to carry around a big old map to get to our destination it is obviously easier to just have a portion of the map that is needed like on our cell phones. Only problem is that a map is not simply just a picture! A real map becomes biased when we do this because the information can be different from the original and inaccurate. When the original maps are remade many details may change. When doing this, the original map loses its original direction and meaning that it started with. This is why I have noticed many times myself and have witnessed others getting lost while using a navigation / gps. Many times it will reroute us or just have us going in circles!

 

The image of the map that I added has  many inaccuracies. The coast lines seem exaggerated, and it seems as thought at the time they believed that you could get to Asia through the atlantic. The geography of the map is also distorted. Even minor little altercation can mess up the entire map.

My thoughts on the Drucker and Kaufman readings.

Oh my goodness! That Drucker reading did not make any sense to me at first I felt it was all a foreign language. Since I was having such a difficult time with the reading I decided to read it “out loud” a few times and underline some important ideas and points. After trying my best analyzing and re reading over and over again I got a few things from her paper. So the whole “capta vs data” thing is still a little fuzzy but I kind of get what she is saying. Capta is “taken” actively while data is assumed to be a “given” that is able to be recorded and observed. When Drucker states that we must pay attention to the representation I think she means that any representation of knowledge is crucial to its cultural force and to its production. Drucker goes into graphs and charts and how sometimes they do and do not represent knowledge. I believe charts and graphs do represent knowledge but only to a certain extent. On the surface, it is basically given knowledge on topics and circumstances, but some info and knowledge from graphs and charts can be extremely bias in some ways. Drucker addresses important question that graphs do not exactly look into when it comes to the graph shown  such as ” what counts as a nation”? and “what kind of time span”? We must also keep in mind that graphs do change over the course of time as well.

Now onto the Kaufman reading! I thought it was really cool how all the info was visual. I really liked how their was a moving time line on the bottom of the visual. I learned some things about the Vietnam war and how Kissenger tried to negotiate peace meetings. Both readings were somewhat hard for me to understand mainly because I had no prior knowledge of visual texts like this.

The Return of the Library.

I thought it was pretty obvious that libraries are very important and play a critical role in humanities. Since we use humanities to understand and document our world it is clear that we need libraries in order to do so.  In Jermon’s paper he talks about how it would be difficult to have to digitalize all archives in libraries. I think it is crazy how we are starting to digitalize everything now a days. Even books now have an electronic version. The next thing you know everything will be digital. Good old fashioned libraries are no longer the same because even library data and archives are becoming electronically digitalized. I guess it does have its benefits but I myself like to keep things simple. The author talks about how it is not always helpful and beneficial because it ends up benefiting “minor” writers instead of the real writers and scholars which I can definitely see. He talks about how endless educational possibilities will emerge and soon be exploited by electronically needed things such as email. I am pretty sure almost every university uses email for instructional reasons for students and professors.

The other author of our other reading Amy was more in favor of the technological changes and advances. She mentioned how it made things so much easier for her as a professor and how she was able to share important text and readings with her students without all the extra complications. She even argued that the information was way better in quality than actual paper hard copies can be sometimes. Honestly I find using the good old fashioned library just as efficient.

Metadata and the Internet

After doing this week’s reading I soon realized how marketers used metadata to target consumers for their products and increase sales. Metadata is described simply as “data about data” and is also a “system of track keeping.” I am actually surprised that I did not know about this earlier since I encounter it online all the time. For example, many times while I was listening to Pandora internet radio I would  hear advertisements for student loans and cheap text book rentals. I always found it so ironic because during that time I was actually looking for student loans an cheap text book rentals. I immediately thought it was weird because the Pandora app did not have much of my personal information. This shows me exactly how metadata can show a persons identity without much information on the user to begin with. Marketers can now access user data and metadata in order to advertise to the audience in which they appeal to the most. Although I do think it is a smart marketing strategy, as an internet user I do have some concerns about it in some aspects. The only thing that is a little alarming to me is the lack of privacy we get on the internet. The fact that marketers can access any information about us in the first place is a little weird. To some people it differs from social media because the data is accessed by marketers and not friends and family. Just knowing we have no privacy online is a little weird but not too alarming unless you have something to hide.

My relationship with technology

As far back as I can remember I have always been very intrigued by computers and basically technologies of all types. My uncle is an engineer and when I was 5 years old he got me my first computer desk top and showed me how to use it. From that moment on I started to learn more and more about technology like how to use a cell phone, iPod, etc. At first my relationship with technology was actually fairly good, I found it very interesting and wanted to learn how to use everything from how to make a power point to how to use a play station. As I got older it seemed like technology started to get harder and more difficult as technology started to develop more and become more complex. As of now, my relationship with technology has gotten worse and worse. I now find myself having a difficult time even paying things online or even doing traffic school online. Little glitches and so many options that lead to other pages have made it seem impossible to be navigated to where I need to be. In the article, Williams explains and goes into detail on how most technologies today do not accomidate everyone in the audience that uses technology. For example, he talks about those who are visibly impaired or have hearing issues. These are big issues that may prevent certain people from being able to utilize technology to the best ability. I honestly feel that it would be impossible to accomidate every disability that each individual has but we can continue to try and research more ways that every one would be able to utilize the benefits of technology in this day and age.

The Uses of Voyant

During Tuesday’s class session we were all introduced to a new tool known as Voyant. Voyant can be accessed online or can be downloaded to your computer, desk top, etc. At first I did not completely understand how Voyant worked or what it was used for but after the class was instructed on what to do it became more clear to me that voyant is used for multiple things but mainly for word count and comparing different words. Once you download a document onto your computer and upload it onto voyant, it will reveal how many times a certain word is used. This can be helpful since it will give you an idea of what to expect and whether or not the document is useful. For example, the documents Dr. S gave us to upload onto voyant showed the word “God” many times which can give the reader the clues that the document could have a lot to do with the subject of religion.

Voyant is basically used for digital texts for analysis and to study texts. At first Voyant did not seem to be that helpful to me just because I myself am not familiar at all with digital texts but I am sure if I were to use digital texts it would most definitely come in handy for analysis and studying. I am sure we will be using many digital texts in this class so it will help more once we start to actually get the hang of it as we go. Other than that, I find voyant to be a really cool tool that all of us in the class will utilize.

 

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