Caitlin Jeffery

Exploring the depths of digital literature

House of Leaves: Digital Artifact

I played around with how the hallway changed and made a video with altered images of my hallway. The song is “Virgin State of Mind.”


Digitally Defined

How do you define something that hasn’t defined itself? What I like about Digital Humanities is that it is a new and emerging field. It is still growing and figuring out what it is and is organic in a technical way.
Two of the articles this week (“Digital Humanities Triumphant?” and “What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments”) referred to Wikipedia for their definitions and Wikipedia, to me, is digital humanities itself. Wikipedia is a collaborative effort to use technology to explore, define, and distribute knowledge to masses.
My favorite of the the articles was “Why Digital Humanities Is ‘Nice'”. The way Scheinfeldt writes about Digital Humanities reminds me of how Reddit is. Scheinfeldt notes that digital humanists are “often more concerned with method than [they] are with theory…the methodical focus makes it easy for [them] to ‘call bullshit.’ If anyone takes an argument too far afield, the community of practitioners can always put the argument to rest by asking to see some working code, a useable standard, or some other tangible result.” If you have ever been on Reddit (if you haven’t, go now), that is exactly how it feels. People often get called out to support their statements. It creates an interactive learning environment. You can easily link to articles, videos, pictures, blogs, etc. and from there learn more. It makes learning become three dimensional.
I also liked Mark Sample’s “Notes Towards a Deformed Humanities.” In regards to taking works apart and putting them back together Sample writes:

“I don’t want to put Humpty Dumpty back together. Let him lie there, a cracked shell oozing yoke. He is broken. And he is beautiful. The smell, the colors, the flow, the texture, the mess. All of it, is is unavailable until we break things. And let’s not soften our critical blow by calling it deformable. Name it what it is, a deformation. In my vision of Deformed Humanities, there is little need to go back to the original. We work…not to go back to the original text with a revitalized perspective, but to make an entirely new text or artifact.”

His take on a Deformed Humanities is a lot like technology itself. Don’t take apart and then rebuild a clock. Take apart a clock and make a radio. Digital Humanities isn’t about doing what has been done over and over, but trying something new. I went to a seminar about social media in the workplace and a lot of people talked about how life was better without social media and how it is ruining knowledge. I asked them if they just weren’t using it correctly. Most had never thought about it that way and were inclined to stick with social media=bad, but a couple talked to me after and we had a great discussion. Social media takes apart previous communication conventions and makes something new and that new can be amazing. Think about how social media has changed the way people receive information? When the Colorado shooting happened, I didn’t find out the next day reading the paper, I found out within a half hour through Facebook.
The Internet has the biggest library and is the largest classroom. You can learn anything. Heck, I spent a couple hours this week learning to do Cups from YouTube videos (video below, apologies for my lack of rhythm).
So what is Digital Humanities? To me it is collaborative learning through all available platforms. It is organic and pretty much anyone who has an online presence is already taking part without realizing it.

Anna Kendrick: 


The Printed Web

I am sitting here typing on my iPad, the tv is on in the background, and I have 4 articles printed out on my lap. Technology is beckoning me away from typing as much as it did when I was reading. How easy would it be to stop writing at this moment and start playing Angry Birds, surf the Internet, read a book, or do all of these at once? I used to be able to curl up in my bed and read for hours and now I have to push myself to focus on two pages of text. I relate when in “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Friedman is quoted “[A] blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.” There is so much truth to this. I often find myself mid-article getting curious about something else and moving on and on and on. I may have started reading about maternity leave and somehow ends up on an article about cannibalism.

As readers, we tend to think we are a bit smarter, a little more refined in taste than others. Yet how easily any of us can get pulled into YouTube videos of cats. I spent a good chunk of my day looking for sloth gifs (so adorable by the way). But how is this enriching to me? I have a phone in my pocket that connects me to things in a way my parents generation ever thought possible. Who needs to know anything when you can Google it.

But while I love technology and the ability to access anything I could ever want to know, it does worry me about what it means for the future. I recently tweeted “Information: Our parents had to know it, our children have to know how to find it, we have had to do both. Curious what the effects will be.” Nicholas Carr asking the simple question, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” is something I really worry about as a mother. I grew with the technology and have familiarity with what came before. My kids were born into technology. You should see how my 5 year old can maneuver around Netflix or access apps on my phone or iPad. Heck she even me prized my password from watching me swipe.

I read “The Veldt” before in high school and I think I sort of wrote it off. Reading it as a mom, I had a physical reaction to the story. It made me sick thinking of technology replacing the parents. When Peter wishes his father dead and he replies “We were, for a long while. Now we are really going to start living,” I can see how the engrossment in our own technology is a sort of death. With Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. it feels as if at time meaningful communication is gone. I tend to call people less because I can just check up on them when I have time. It creates a selfish and isolated form of communication.

I don’t think we are at an stage where technology can 100% parent our children, but they can easily learn more from a tv show or iPad application than parents at times. I struggle to find the balance and I worry that my kids ability to access information whenever will make them not care to know or remember it.

In the end though I agree with Carr that technology is like books, there is a lot of garbage out there and you have to make the conscious effort to weed out the crap and find richer works.



Destruction as Creation

Talk about some beautiful words and imagery. I decided to reword it and create something new with the phrases. This was a lot of fun to play with.

Heavenly slant of light,
Teach it anything, despair.
When it comes, there’s a certain scar
Sent us of the air.

The landscape listens, hurt it gives us,
None may hold their breath.
We can find no shadows,
But internal difference.

On winter afternoons,
When it goes, like the weight
There’s a certain, ‘t is like the distance
Of cathedral tunes.

An imperial affliction
Where the meanings are.
‘Tis the seal, that oppresses
On the look of death.

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defined as mom

mom: caretaker, hero, cheerleader, doctor, chronicler

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