Archive for March, 2012

If library books had a “ctrl+F” function I would be deliriously happy

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Before reading or watching anything for this week, I first had to look-up “text mining” and “n-grams.” I attempted to read without doing so and became lost immediately. I’m not sure I understand, but I believe text mining has something to do with organizing information on websites to make it easier for the text to be searched by search engines. N-grams were an ever greater mystery and I can only conclude they are somehow associated with the text organizing. I have come to the conclusion that Dr. McClurken put those terms on the syllabus to be intimidating.

My response to the Google video was a resounding “…what?” The comments alone were intimidating because of their writers’ evident knowledge on an issue I listened to with great pain. After skimming through the video, I’m not sure what I was supposed to get out of it, other than to be once again reminded that I am not technologically adept. My best guess is that it was talking about how Google translates foreign languages for its users. I think someone with linguistic training would have better understood the language alignment he kept talking about.

The same confusion followed for the Babel article on data mining, Digital History Hacks, and Dan Cohen’s blog. However, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” was clearer, while the site on Mining the Dispatch and “Applying Quantitative Analysis to Classic Lit” were helpful examples of the text mining and digital history connection. As someone who was too young to research before the internet, I cannot clearly see how the internet might have changed the way we read and view material. I can, however, identify with the way the author describes how he now views material. (See post title.) By the end of the article, I couldn’t tell if the author was trying to warn the readers about not letting our mental processes be consumed by mechanical thought, or if he was simply foretelling an inevitably dire future.

Hassan Made It Look Easy

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Normal ink and paper resumes are difficult. Figuring out the balance between showing professionalism and showing personality is a challenge.

Building attractive websites is difficult. For those without much experience, navigating the ins and outs of web design, templates, widgets, and digital beauty is a challenge.

Designing a strong resume and portfolio on an aesthetically pleasing website is just painful. I tried experimenting with themes to make the routine WordPress format more attractive, but I kept losing the tools I wanted, like a custom header and menus. I cannot decide if it is okay to add other pictures (besides my senior photo) to the site, or if that would take away the professionalism. I thought it might be amusing to add a couple zombie pictures, or at least zombie film posters, to the portfolio. Or pictures of my schools to the education tab, but decided against all of it in my uncertainty.


I Want to Be Amish

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Dr. Brian Alexander, the esteemed traveling professor that visited our class earlier in the day, delivered an incredibly imaginative lecture on the future of technology in higher education classrooms. Lecture is too stuffy a word for Dr. Alexander, who kept up a running Twitter feed during the talk and frequently broke from his speech to chat with the audience and get immediate feedback. It made sense for him to address the audience in this style, because a theme of Dr. Alexander’s speech was about the evolving nature of learning and its increasingly interactive, digital nature.

The four possible futures he outlined were rather terrifying to me, though. All but one of the examples projected a rather cold, heavily internet-based form of human interactions, if such a digital medium can really be classified as human interaction without any physical interaction.All the scenarios asked us to imagine life 20 years from now and the first was called Phantom Learning. It involved the idea of schools being rare, but information being plentiful, with education being completely online. The second, The Lost Decade, was a depressing look towards a future where we never recovered from our present economic slump. The third one, and my favorite, was call alt.Residential and seemed the most balanced, relying on blended learning and creating physical structures that are alluring by being intensely unique. The final scenario was the Renaissance, a heavily “gamified” world where learning is frequently done through games and we go through a golden age of digital creativity.

What I realized from Dr. Alexander’s talk is that new technologies are in an ocean of opportunity. There are many levels of technological proficiency, just like there are many sizes of fish in the ocean, some goldfish, some sharks. And I am not even a minnow. I am some sort of technological plankton, not even technologically savvy enough to be a fish.