I’m picturing digital dwarfs

March 26th, 2012

With data mining, I’m sure they are more than seven dwarfs and Snow White hacking away at the digital world to collect data. While the process of digital mining seems like it could be beneficial to certain kinds of research, I can’t help but think of the age old debate, “quantity vs. quality”. Data mining and N-grams for a person looking a raw data, but these two methods are a clear example of how the qualitative aspect of researching is being lost. As for myself, I’ve been doing a lot of research for my senior thesis. When I go to the library to dig through the shelves, I find myself exhibiting these sorts of methods. I instantly look in the index for major search terms and if they aren’t mentioned then I discard the book. What the researcher loses is the chance that what they are looking for is in the context of what they should be reading. In some ways, I feel like these two methods are the easy way out. For every mention of a search term, there must by at least three mentions of the term without the term being used. Do these data mining and N-gram techniques account for that?

In reference to Nicholas Carr’s article, “Is Google Making us Stupid?” I believe Google is making us stupid. Every time we change out search terms to find more information on Google what we are really doing is manipulating our brains to think like Google’s search engines. This act is forcing us away from thinking like human beings…critically, intelligently, and rationally to thinking like monotonous computers.

On the subject of searching in history, I think researching is becoming more complicated. “From Babel to Knowledge” by Daniel Cohen addresses that quantity may make up for the lack of quality. I disagree with him in one way. We have all had that “aha!”, epiphany moment while researching where we find a piece of information that will concrete our argument or a source that is so influential to the subject we are studying that we would have never had found through normal internet search means. This moment is influenced by quantity of research, but mining may not produce the same results as sitting on the library floor looking through books.

Overall my view point on this week’s readings is that data mining and N-grams devalue the the institutions of literature, history, and humanities. Some where along the line we are losing those critical thinking skills that we work so hard to develop in college.


March 22nd, 2012

In terms of research, my part of the research is done. I finished over spring break which is so exiciting because Dr. Alvey’s book (which I’ve had my head burried in) smelled funny. You know the “not-good” library book smell. Now that my research is done, Sam and Kay have been uploading my drafts and the other ones finished pretty steadily. It is very exciting to see the website come together because for so long it seemed like a blank canvas. Today, I’m going to take pictures of the buildings on campus, from a student’s perspective. For instance, most pictures of the library are taken from the hill next to it. I want to take pictures that represent how an individual walking through campus would see the campus. Also, I was thinking that it might be beneficial to take pictures of collective buildings to have a better grasp of how campus is laid out, like the residence halls that are grouped together. It seems that the clouds won’t let the sun come out today so if anyone knows a sundance please let me know.


March 13th, 2012

I’m trying to create my digital portfolio, resume thingy and I’m having problems with the pages on umw blogs. I thought I had created subpages under academics for my course work, but apparently they are saved but not on my site face. Can anyone help. I am wordpress illiterate.

Five Lessons I’ve Learned

March 12th, 2012

Lesson 1: Dr. McClurken does too much. He makes me feel seriously unaccomplished. In all serious though, it seems to me that creating a digital resume is actually easier than making a resume through microsoft word and the like. The digital world gives you the freedom to customize, personalize, and professionalize your resume. (Dr. McClurken’s site).

Lesson 2: Dr. McClurken’s use of UMW Blogs allowed him to attach and implement different kinds of technology into his main page. A resume like this creates a well-rounded personality and representation of achievements versus the one page resume maximum I was taught which allows for virtually nothing specific to be put on the resume.

Lesson 3: There is no safe place to hide in today’s society. I have wondered if I could completely drop off the grid. I’d turn off my cell phone for the whole and imagine a world where my overbearing mother couldn’t call me whenever she wanted. Evan Ratliff’s experience of disappearing was intensely orchestrated and even he couldn’t  fully escape being tracked electronically without tremendous difficulty. (Evan Ratliff’s journey to disappearance).

Lesson 4: Your digital identity can be what you make or you can let it make you. In reference to Facebook and other social networking sites, I have always been to never post anything online that might incriminate in the future. If you post anything, then people can form there own opinion of you, but if you selectively post then you can control the person you are on the web. Effectively you can create an alter ego. (The Rise of Alter Egos)

Lesson 5: Your privacy is never safe. No matter how many measures you take to protect your privacy, you can never be sure that you are fully protected. On the subject of social networking sites, people have created alter egos to protect their identity by disfiguring their own identities or creating new ones. The fact of the matter is someone is always able to find you on these sites. I get friend requests from foreign countries I can’t pronounce, from foreign names I can’t pronounce. Not to mention the people who’s facebook accounts have obviously been hacked into. Their privacy has been violated too.

In closing, I would like to say that in a world where technology is becoming the easiest and most popular way to communicate it might be better to never go on computers at all.

One Step at a Time

March 1st, 2012

Kayle and I met with Professor Hanna on Tuesday and it was fantastic. We walked into his office and he already had the map of campus up and ready to go. The rest of the meeting was followed by “awesome”, “that is so cool”, and “wow”. I do not think we expected him to be so helpful and resourceful. He has offered his assitance in furture edits of the map in case we want to change colors. Other than that, basic edits for us will be easy. We need to eliminate the white space and crop out certain features like the battleground and the shopping center across route 1, but that will be easy thourgh photoshop or a windows picture program.

Our group has progressed very well. We have settled into the swing of things. Kayle, Cam, and I have continued research and I have done six or so drafts of the residence halls. Kay and Sam continue to make strides with the website and are doing a lot of work concerning obtaining pictures from the archives. Overall, I think we are on track and will have a lot more to do when we come back from break.

Happy Spring Break everyone!!!

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