Toxicity on YouTube

Toxicity on YouTube: http://scalar.usc.edu/works/toxicity-on-youtube/

(Note: We each took one of these areas and wrote the original draft paragraphs on our own, and then collectively went back and edited them together. This may explain some of the stylistic differences and the use of first person.)

 

Narrative and Topic (Amelia Moseley)

Our topic covered a very large range of issues, from freedom of speech and copyright, to the issues of anonymity and cyberbullying. If there was something I would hope that readers would get out of it, I feel like it is that this issue is massive and constantly evolving, and that solutions to it may always be temporary. I suggested the topic because I work with YouTube and the effects of this issue change how I do business on the platform. I suggested it also because I would hope people grow to a point where they can treat others fairly. That said, saying that YouTube needs to switch to another format for one issue could result in a whole new vein of problems unforeseen at this moment in time. So, in writing this narrative, I would hope that it provides a current explanation of the problems, some that may be solved on their own, other not, and allow for the reader to independently collect an idea or suggestion to promote a healthier space than what we have today. Within our team, this idea hit a personal note with each of us. I do not think that, at this point, anyone has been spared from the effects of cyberbullying or general anonymous harassment.

Granted, as time goes on, our peers start to think less of us for reporting and people naturally just become immune to the hateful comments sent their way. While maturing in a way to handle the environment of the digital space may be a good thing, it also concerns me that instead of solving the issues, society is now just expected to accept that behavior has part of the cost for a connecting digital space. Why not instead promote the idea that digital humanities can instead promote a healthier space? By providing the largest issues in the current conflict, I think the hope is that we can do something about it. This course has inspired me to look passed basic conventions and how media has evolved thus far. I cannot say that is based on any singular lesson, because it appears as the drive for the course as a whole. Collectively, we have gotten this far because we want to grow. Improving this space for the betterment of not only the digital space, but society as a whole, is the narrative of the course, and it is our responsibility to try and make a difference in that space.

 

Digital Humanities Methods/Techniques/Process (Cae Herlin)

Once we had come up with all of the specific ideas and different directions we wanted to go with our topic, we organized the project by delegating certain pages to each of the different group members. What one group member worked on would generally follow a theme, but the paths on the final website show where we had some overlap and some divergence. For the “Freedom of Speech” page, because of the complexity and divisiveness of that specific aspect of our topic, we decided not to delegate the page, but instead to each contribute our own sections with our own thoughts. We later solicited blog posts from our classmates for that section as well in order to diversify the perspectives we presented within it.

While delegating each page to a different author, we did make an effort to help edit and revise each other’s work, though the limited time and scale of the project made it difficult for all of us to edit everything everyone else had written. We shared the same basic research question–investigating how the YouTube platform and community generates and handles toxicity–but ultimately, we found that each of us approached the question from a different angle and reached slightly different conclusions. This divergence was most evident in the way we approached the “Freedom of Speech” page. Because of this divergence, our “General Conclusions” page ended up how it did, leading into a question for our readers to judge based on what we have presented, rather than all of us reaching the same conclusion as a whole.

This project required us to develop and discover techniques for how to take advantage of Scalar as a platform, but we also developed techniques for communication and collaboration. In the long term the latter techniques will likely have a broader application in the future. Many if not most of the digital humanities projects any of us is likely to work on will be inherently collaborative, whereas Scalar is only one of many tools these projects could use. Nonetheless, the technical skills any of us has gained with Scalar may facilitate our further development of technical skills with other platforms.

If we were to have more time to continue working on this project, we could perhaps improve collaboration between the ideas on each of our pages. While our general conclusions would likely remain as open as they are now, we could perhaps gain a better sense of where our ideas converge and where exactly the question in that conclusion should lead.

 

Research and Critical Thinking Skills (Kaitlin Harris)

There was plenty of growth for everyone in regards to our research skills and contemplation in how to visualize our ideas. As English majors, we are typically used to writing essays, stories, and critiques, but using a lot of digital content and visual content combined with an informative essay was a new challenge. Our opinions were also important to our project, but our skills in looking for relevant and informative articles, photos, and videos was just one of many new types of research we had to develop. HTML and XTML were also very difficult aspects with this project, and text and video formatting to wrap in the text also required trial and error. It is clear that Scalar is a newer site since it is still difficult to use in many ways for many users.

Challenges were abundant in our project. Especially for me, since I had less experience with YouTube than my fellow group members, and I had to work during and was unable to attend the webinar workshop, there was a lot of difficulty with discussing and learning about different video tools. I had a tendency to write several essays on each topic, and I had trouble fitting all of my ideas in words along with videos and images. Since I am more interested in psychology and literary theory and criticism, and I also wanted to discuss the relevance of YouTube to literature and the digital humanities for the class, I tried to make sure everything could be intertwined. We all managed to make all of our content connected with goals and themes, but we had a tendency to repeat ourselves, and all of us talked more than we showed videos.

If we had the chance to reorganize our thoughts, I would definitely focus on making sure we had ideas that were more correlated and making sure that we were not repetitive between ourselves or amongst each of our own pages. We also had trouble getting all of our content into our presentation because we had so much to talk about, and we all practiced with different methods. The fact that we were all too much alike as introverts made it a little difficult since I do better when I can practice and time what I say along with everyone else, but the other group members were more nervous when we tried to practice, so they wanted to improvise more. It all would have been fine if we had practiced a plan to help each other out when we were taking a little bit too much time to speak since everyone has trouble thinking of time while speaking.

Overall, this entire class has helped me develop many skills that will help me in the real world after college, especially in graduate school. I have never had so many presentations in all of my college career as I have in this class, and it really wore me out, but it also helped me with public speaking and getting out of my “shell.” My emotional skills in regards to coping with my anxiety have changed, and I have learned how to work with people whom I may not share a lot with in common interests. The Scalar Project has been the most difficult school experience I have had, but it was very interesting to learn about tools, technology, and social issues that I had never encountered.

Freedom of Speech: Censorship or Sanction-ship

Censorship has been at the forefront of important topics since the beginning of publicizing creations. Especially with the advent of the film and book industries, there has always been an issue with deciding how much credit people get, who should be able to share the rights to something, and how open the source should be.

When it comes to copyright censorship, limitations are definitely needed. However, with the rise of the digital humanities, it is becoming more difficult than ever before to make boundaries between what counts as criticism, reproduction, or just plagiarism. If someone blatantly rips off someone else’s work or blatantly threatens them, freedom of speech should not be granted. Freedom of speech is not the allowance of harm or theft. In cases where people are using humor to make a point or they are taking someone’s work to make constructive progress, freedom of speech is not harmful or used for a type of copying. It is important to ask for permission before reproducing someone else’s work, and it is important to not use enough components of someone else’s work in a sly way as if to hide the influence. Paying tribute and acknowledging people that influenced one’s reproduction must be obvious, and there must be a big enough change to prove as reproduction instead of plagiarism.

I do not believe in censorship when it comes to expressing one’s beliefs. Unfortunately, even the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis are allowed to parade around for ceremonies regarding their beliefs. As a society, we cannot tell people how they can or cannot limit their speech, because as long as active violence is not occurring, people have every right to say what they mean. Even hate speech is unfortunately a gray area that is difficult to regulate. If people begin to govern everything that they are offended by, everything will eventually be outlawed because everyone is offended by something that maybe someone else is not. We can do what we can to teach people the right way, and we can tell people to stop offending us, but we cannot legally regulate what people believe. There is a big problem right now with both sides of the political spectrum wanting to censor the other side. Republicans for example do not want sexual education to be open to anything other than abstinence education and many also do not want transgenders to share the bathroom of people with their identified gender. Democrats, on the other hand, may also sometimes want people to censor the words they say and not let their religious beliefs limit people based on their sexual orientation, such as the cake serving argument.

Censorship is needed in certain circumstances, but as of now, we have been trying too hard to censor problems that may not be as crucial to deal with as others. Too much censorship can definitely jeopardize our priorities, and we can never seek out everything that is inappropriate or offensive. If we truly want to grant the people in our country the freedom we all have been given in the constitution’s first amendment, we cannot limit anything unless it harms or takes advantage of another person.

Works Cited

Wharton, Robin. “Digital Humanities, Copyright Law, and the Literary.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 7.1 (2013): n. pag. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/7/1/000147/000147.html&gt;.

Owen, Robert L. “Bill of Rights Copied.” Eastern Illinois University. Library of Congress, 14 Oct. 1942. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <http://www.eiu.edu/eiutps/billofrights_broadside.gif&gt;.

 

Digital Humanities: The Anthropocene Shows in Everything

Throughout the semester, we have learned about many ways that the digital humanities is very helpful to all aspects of research, academia, and even entertainment. All of the maps, graphs, and timelines and conglomeration of works to become more interactive may have produced a whole new era. The anthropocene could be seen as a metaphor for the technology age changing the social, science, and humanities communities, but some people actually believe the term could apply for how society and the environment are changing overall from more than just computer communication.

When reading Bethany Nowviskie’s article on the anthropocene, I struggled a little bit to understand what I was reading. I was wondering why biology and geology were being discussed in an English class. Reading more into the article, it becomes evident that the digital humanities are indeed making every aspect of knowledge more correlated and the lines between disciplines are becoming more gray. The subject material of this article was pretty dreary, but it was also very intriguing. The idea of humanity dying and that we have to accept the civilization dying together instead of just individuals dying a little at a time was difficult to read. De-extinction of the previous creatures of earlier geological eras seemed impossible to me before I read the article. I thought it could be a negative idea because of overpopulation, but when I looked more into it, I found that if only a few animals are brought back to life, then it could be very beneficial.

Comparing the resurrection of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures is much like the resurrection of old books, poems, stories, and manuscripts of history. We could become extinct as well, which Bethany discusses, but we may not be able to be resurrected since we have the most power over all other species at this point. We never know if we really will become extinct or not though, so we might as well do as much as we can to educate others and ourselves with technology and research in the past and present humanities. Another species could always come after us and use the research we have found. We could be the first intelligent life form to leave enough of our knowledge for more individuals to use after our demise. The digital humanities are so important because they bring many old manuscripts that had never been seen in our lifetimes to the light to be studied and to bring advancements for further creations as well.

There are many people that are trying to learn about the anthropocene, display its importance, and maybe counteract its affects. Ms. Nowviskie talked a little about the Long Now Foundation and Dark Mountain. I preferred the Long Now Foundation because it was much more positive and it related towards more of a long term thought process of how past works and future works in the digital humanities can be helpful. Dark Mountain talked more about how we are bound to become extinct. The Long Now Foundation did discuss how the human languages we have now could be extinct in about 10000 years and that much landscape and even waterfalls will probably erode by this point as well. However, this project talks about long term plans. The Dark Mountain Project is very interesting and somewhat macabre because of its discussion of  what is happening that it most likely cannot be prevented. After looking on their website, it almost seems like they are trying to be lighthearted about the future and its demise and to focus our research on just how bad it will be rather than how to fix it. It seems to relate more with the Gothic literature of our society like Edgar Allan Poe. I normally prefer this type of writing, but when it comes to our future I think Long Now Foundation is more helpful and scientific.

Works Cited

Hine, Dougald, and Paul Kingsnorth. “Uncivilisation: The Dark Mountain Manifesto.” Dark Mountain Project. WordPress, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016. <http://dark-mountain.net/about/the-dark-mountain-project/&gt;.

Jackson, Jaime. “Sign 11.” Dark Mountain Project. WordPress, Oct. 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2016. <http://dark-mountain.net/other-stories/the-intertext-installation/&gt;.

– – -. “Sign 21.” Dark Mountain Project. WordPress, Oct. 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2016. <http://dark-mountain.net/other-stories/the-intertext-installation/&gt;.

Turpin, Etienne, and Heather Davis. “Art & Death: Lives Between the Fifth Assessment & the Sixth Extinction.” Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies. Ed. Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin. London: Open Humanities, 2015. 3-30. Print.

The Anti-Aura: Reproduction and Remediation in Moderation

Reproduction and remediation run rampant in our culture. Walter Benjamin’s work on the aura and art in the age of mechanical reproduction is a very interesting take on what has become so common since the 20th century. The ideas of reproduction can also be seen in every part of our lives rather than just movies or books. I have worked with Walter Benjamin already when taking Literary Theory and Criticism, and I began to notice even more interesting ideas when reading it again.

It seems to be true that every movie coming out lately is just a reproduction of something else. Some of my favorite movies including Batman and Tim Burton films are typically reproductions of books, comics, or other past film reproductions. Even movies or books based on historical events can be seen as a reproduction of the original event. Pictures are reproductions of people and the aura is difficult to find. It is debatable whether it truly exists at all in all technicality.

The aura can be greatly disintegrated during reproduction. The aura of an object is that which has a distance from other objects or a reproduction and cannot be messed with or it will disintegrate. Someone may want to bring the aura closer to them, but it cannot be done. Benjamin brings up the idea that when art loses its authenticity, it begins to be based on political ideals which is something I didn’t exactly understand last time I read this critique. The cult value and the ritualistic value of art are changed when the artistic function of art is less important and the focus is mostly on exhibition. The best example that Benjamin uses to describe this process which I did not notice much the last time I read the critique, is the idea that art can self alienate itself and make aesthetic pleasure out of it. Benjamin compares this to Fascism depicting politics as aesthetics and Communism must respond by actually politicizing art.

Although getting carried away with reproduction can and has in some ways become detrimental to our society already, reproduction can also be a type of paying homage and interpretation that is always important for growth and development of previous ideas. There is a grey area in deciding what is plagiarism or how far away from the aura we can get without making art not very artistic anymore. There will be spoilers in my example below about the difference between homage and plagiarism.

As I use as an example, the new Marvel movie Deadpool pays homage to the Ferris Bueller end-of-credits scene by adding humor about Marvel foreshadowing upcoming sequels at the end of their movies. It is connected to Ferris Bueller because it was the first movie that used a scene after the credits ended to trick the audience into thinking there was more to come, but there was not more to come.

An instance of plagiarism would be where something is ripped off from someone else and the reproduction is exactly the same as the original, or where a remediation tries to change the original idea too much so that they are obviously connected but indistinguishably so as if the remediation is trying to hide something. Such as in the One Direction song, “Live While We’re Young” where they are accused of ripping off a song from the Clash, and many other songs of One Direction have also copied other famous bands by claiming sampling. Vanilla Ice also got in trouble in the early 1990’s for copying “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie and it was so similar in melody that he was sued for not asking for permission.

Of course, no matter what someone must ask permission to equip themselves with remediation or reproduction of someone else’s work. Just like in everything else in the digital humanities, moderation is key. We cannot map, graph, or use timelines for someone else’s work and credit it as our own either. Yes, rights are loosening with more technology, internet, and reproduction in media especially with the digital humanities, but we must still be respectful and cite our sources.

 

Maps: Interpretation of Past and Future

Maps are not only useful for traveling on a road trip in one’s car. Books, newspapers, websites, journals, and even films can be more fully explained with a complementary map tool. Maps can display geography, temporal variations, interpretation, and a combination of other interface tools like timelines and trees, but they are very different from graphs qualitative information. It is all open to interpretation in its own way, but maps are more open to interpretation and less concise than most other forms of media accessories.

Literary maps are important for the digital humanities. With the emphasis on interpretation and explaining interactive journals or transcribed stories in digital format, as much extra information as possible can be displayed with the help of maps and other visual aids. Franco Moretti discusses the interpretation ability of maps such that hidden patterns can be displayed, but patterns can emulate distance which explains geometry and may be more similar to diagrams. Diagrams use relationships but maps show specific patterns  with geography that makes patterns the way they are. Maps can be used for multiple purposes and a map can show exactly what has happened in the past or it can be modified for others to experience what may have been possible in the past. With gentrification, the map can look ahead to what people might want to see and keep that in mind when recording the most important aspects of a map. The map can be used to look at the past and the future.

As with all other infrastructure online and in print, maps are not perfect. As Franco Moretti mentions, geography cannot explain everything. He says that astrology and theory are more able to display exactly how spatial and temporal organization can change and develop. With examples such as provinces instead of regions or states,  there is a lot of negative space that a map cannot display since the focus would be on what is not there. A lot can still be left to the imagination with a graph or too much can be explained so that one cannot use his or her imagination. Sometimes imagining the distance and the mystery of the visual experience in a story is much more enjoyable than looking at a map. Imagination itself helps keep the memory intact and keeps people’s neural synapses developing. If all visual information is handed to us, then we cannot think outside of the box in abstract ways quite as easily. It is important to think about many different situations in many different ways with different amounts of information for our brain to be able to do various and new acts for challenging itself.

The amazing part of maps is how much one map can explain about a story through obvious further explanation, interpretation, and even subtext. In “Maps” we see that even the shape of a map in a story, such as a rounded path in a village, can display freedom and independence from other forces. There are circular systems of geography and linear ones as well. Some maps can display narrative and fiction in stories or websites or they can emulate actual maps for travel or more information in a non fiction story or website. Maps may be the most comprehensive form of explanation that can be juxtaposed to a story for useful reasons especially in digital humanities. Sometimes facts in timelines or graphs are not as informative or able to emulate an experience as a map. Though maps can be frustrating for those without a strong sense of direction, such as myself, they are crucial for literary technology and digital development.

 

DHCommons Journal Report

The DHCommons Journal is probably the most digital humanities oriented journal at which we have looked. The audience for the DHCommons is specifically digital humanities learners and participants that want to learn more about the meta explanations for the developing field. It is very interesting for everyone interested in learning about collaboration, peer reviews, authorship, and of course literature and humanities. If anyone wants to know how to develop the digital humanities, and the humanities in general, while realizing how to make specific goals, this journal is a good place to start.

As the issue introduction says on the website, many of the authors they have already worked with thought of everything in theoretical aspects, but the journal has attempted to make technical progress and an actual scholarly impact. The journal is multilingual and very diverse which is something that not all digital humanities sites remembers to include. History is also a major subject in the journal and they discuss the making of digital humanities tools such as timelines and editing in general. Even the historical personal statements of the journal are all more explanatory on how research is obtained for creating databases and interactive websites than they are narrative and based on what they actually discovered.

Because the journal is very new, there is not a lot of information and it is kind of difficult to search the site because of its consequential layout. Even the way the journal articles were titled was very confusing to me. After I presented information in class about my journal, I realized the journal article I found the most interesting was just the journal’s issue 1 introduction. The introduction was the only archived article and the other actual journal articles were called project statements and there were two “how did they make that?” articles. I thought the introduction was the what in the journal. Since the journal is already very meta based, I figured “how did they make that” was a meta anaylsis of the entire journal and that it seemed like the informational resource and abstract of the entire journal-the how of the journal. There is also an about section which explains why the journal was created. I thought this was the introduction. Looking at it more I see that the project statements are likely the actual articles, but it is very hard to see much difference in any of the different works in the different sections of the journal’s site. Typically a statement is more of just a bonus to the what, why, and how the journal is made. The site is very simple to use, but that is likely because it is so empty. There is no search bar, and this journal could become something great in time after more collaborations are made, but it is easily read over many times in just a day.

Though the meta-journal contains eclectic and comprehensive information on the development of the digital humanities, the site is pretty empty and is not aesthetically intriguing. As I said before, there is not even enough articles to incorporate a search bar. There are 10 articles in the whole site and they are all on the sidebar so there is little need to explore past the main page. All of the editors are listed as well, but most of the profiles are not complete. Though the main page is not aesthetically pleasing, the journal articles do include photos, graphs, and timelines. The article about World War I specifically has a good digital humanities interface. The interface and infrastructure of this site do not make a lot of sense to me because there is plenty of information on DHCommons’ home page for collaboration, projects, and the blog, but the link to the journal is quite empty. Though the multilingual aspect of the website is important and exciting, the main blog they use on the front page is in Spanish while the rest of the links are in English. There should be an option to translate every article on the main screen, but in my opinion, the actual main language they show should be more consistent based on who will be reading the page the most. However, I did like the way the different page sections were color coded and there is a search bar on the main page though it is not on the journal section’s page.

To submit one’s own writing to this journal, first of all a profile must be created. Writing must be in a Word document or plain text with usage of images and/or hyperlinks. Writing must also be a part of a bigger project; furthermore, the guidelines of digital humanities content rules must be followed before a submission is sent in. It must address problems with academia, literature, and history. A meta-anaylsis of one’s project is essential to his or her project, and grant proposals are not accepted. Writing cannot be creative and that is why the articles are very explanatory of how the digital humanities function. A digital humanities emphasis is crucial. A team must be developed in order to create a project and the project must be reviewed after it is sent in. It is important to pay rights to everyone involved in the project as well. Noting how readers and reviewers can access the project when it is not fully public is important as well.

Overall, the DHCommons Journal has a lot of potential, but it is still obviously in its very early stages. Hopefully, after I post more of my critiques on my blog, and start research in graduate school, I could learn even more about the digital humanities by collaborating with some of my fellow DH enthusiasts and scholars. Writing in this journal is a good way to help other writers get recognized due to not only the writing experience but also the expansion of this journal and the expansion of the digital humanities. The expansion of digital humanities work can make all communication, networking, exposure, and learning much easier.

Complication in Simplicity: Timelines, Graphs, and Maps

Time is an abstract concept. Well, it traditionally has been. Among many advancements in traditional concepts that are basic parts of our everyday lives, time is yet another important abstract concept for the digital humanities to make more abstract. Whether we look at timelines or graphs, there is a lot of ways online resources for literature, and even written works, can benefit from being able to summarize information and give a visual representation for text. Of course, as with any study or construct of a study, there are many benefits and potential problems.

 

Franco Moretti had a much different explanation on time with graphs. Moretti’s idea that close reading is basically a waste of time seems to be the opposite of Rosenburg’s idea to include more in time representation. Moretti seems to think we must keep reading relatively simple if we want to read and study more literature and more of the world’s history in general. Graphs are very easy in that sense, but they could exclude a lot of information. It is important to use close reading in order to look at the subtext and interpretations in reading, graphs, media, and any type of humanities medium. Maybe we should read more books in our canon for pleasure or be more selective about what we read closely, but the digital humanities itself would not exist if it could not take texts and make them more interactive and open to interpretation.

From my own experience, in my psychology classes specifically, graphs can make the text more complicated. By trying to leave little to the imagination it tends to just leave the imagination wandering more. If Moretti thinks that graphs are not open to interpretation, then I think he is wrong based on my experience. The graph that confused me was by Fazio et. al on black and white people’s speed in interpreting negative stereotypes about each other based on a prime, such as a photo. It is not so simple to show one group perceiving themselves as better than they did the other group with just a primed que. Even seeing the amount of time it took the two types of people to come up with stereotypes does not tell us anything about the prime or what factors could have led to the difference in values between and within the group.

fazio

See, this graph is confusing isn’t it?

The statistics could always be skewed by other untested constructs or something else that went ignored. In psychology there is often a social desirability response. Even in literature’s quantitative data, there could be other reasons that data could be incomplete as well. Maybe the rise in book reading is based on being forced to read for school rather than being interested, for example. It makes sense that Moretti wants things simple when he says that literature has a symbolic triumph for its ability to control others and make them insubordinate and lazy for example. Moretti does say that graphs comprise of quantitative data for information but not interpretation, and maps and trees are more important for interpretation, which will be read next, but he seems to advocate for very simple graphs.  This all seems paradoxical since, as I attempted to display, obviously graphs are open to interpretation too and are not always simple.

Daniel Rosenberg’s explanation of timeline limitations brings up the idea that messing too much with abstract concepts and trying to confine the concepts to simple categories is a big mistake. Time may seem linear, but it only seems anyway since it is an abstract concept. What is more important than time itself is all that is encompassed in time. If we use timelines, we have to think about what caused an even to occur rather than just what preceded each event and what succeeded it. The basic infrastructure of a timeline does not allow for showing obstacles in an event or other deviations, as Rosenburg explains. Even the color and shape can make a variation in a timeline that can show more information about sequential events. Changing the temporal distance between events in the timeline is important to. If maps and hierarchical trees are interpretive and graphs are qualitative data, then where does the timeline fit in?

I guess since a timeline is much like a temporal map and a hierarchy, Moretti would see it as interpretive, but it actually seems less interpretive than graphs in a lot of ways and it needs to be more interpretive. The simplicity of the timelines contrasts a lot from the graphs because it is not easy to generalize, but graphs typically are very generalized and are still overly simplified. Complication in itself can be overly simplistic because specificity and generalizations are both simplistic and they are complicated because they either are too open to possibility or not inclusive enough. In digital humanities we must find a balance.

I believe that we need to just realize the shortcomings of graphs and timelines. Working with websites such as  StoryMap, Timeline JS, and Tiki-Toki shows just how the digital humanities can attempt to expand and develop graphs and timelines to omit their shortcomings. They all are usable for interpretation, data, summarizing, and expounding. We have to include multiple viewpoints and include multiple mediums in our digital humanities tools if we want them to be useful. If we want to avoid incorrect interpretations, classism, sexism, or any type of exclusion we must be willing to use both graphs and timelines simply when they need to be and more in depth for other situations. Maybe, eventually, we will not need sites like Orlando for women authors and other important literary contributors, if we make sure to include them in our historically patriarchal timelines and graphs.

Rhetorical Interface: Interpretation in ‘The Scarecrow’

The power of emotional elicitation and distribution is powerful even in very implicit ways. Whether we are reading a book, watching a television show, playing a game, using a website, or even seeing a sick person walking down the street, emotion is easily garnered from any aspect of life. Even the most implicit situations like seeing a McDonald’s restaurant can create emotion relating to anything from the minimum wage, obesity, animal rights, or anything depending on one’s perspective. A strong marketing ploy will consider covert and overt symbolism and themes in their advertisement of choice to create an obvious pathos and one that is more controversial and more subliminal.

Learning about the Chipotle “Scarecrow” game seemed like a fun and creative way to attract customers. I was excited to be able to actually play a game in my class. How many people get to say they played a game in class? However, I was soon disappointed. The game not only was full of propaganda, though I do agree with their message I do not agree with the manner it was conveyed, it also became frustratingly difficult. Chipotle definitely proved their point about how difficult working in the food service could be and that it is important to import healthy foods even if it is difficult. Yet, especially with a game that is advertised towards a young audience with the child like cartoons, I think maybe making the game too difficult just makes people lose interest too quickly. Cartoons also consistently contain sad motifs or scenes, but showing children how cattle are placed into factories and confined while chemicals are slowly poisoning them is possibly too dark. Sure, there is no actual slaughtering going on in the game because that would be completely inappropriate, but I think even this can create controversial questions about food that children may not be able to handle yet. Chipotle is not new to creative advertisements either. After they announced that they stopped putting GMO’s in their food, they kept wanting to reinforce their opinion rather strongly.

chipotle-cow-matrix

As a vegetarian, I perceived a vegetarian ideal from the Chipotle game. I think this emotion is a perfect display of the danger of propaganda in rhetoric and the emotion it can create even unwillingly. Though I know that Chipotle sells meat, many different interpretations can be made without full knowledge of a subject, and it is very important for digital humanities or any type of media to be aware of the repercussions of multi-interpretative material. I think the rhetoric of the Chipotle game was incomplete because until I actually considered that they sold meat, the vegetarian vibe was strongly emitted from the game.

In digital humanities specifically, as we talked about already with interface, infrastructure, and graphs, it is important to know the foundation, the components, and the interpretations that we are creating with our work. If we want to keep developing the digital humanities, we must consider our rhetoric and how it can be inclusive but also simple. I considered, after reading Franco Moretti’s “Graphs,” that sometimes rhetoric that is too simple can also be a problem if it attempts to summarize information that is very in depth. More interpretations can be created beyond the text that may be completely wrong and speculative because sometimes a pictorial component to text can actually be more confusing and possibly unnecessary. Moretti brought up the idea that if one wants to actually take in and enjoy all literature, close reading may be detrimental. I agree that close reading is not necessary at all times, and can sometimes slow a reader down, but the digital humanities thrives off of multitasking and close reading. If anything, omitting close reading would just make digital tools useless. The importance of digital tools are that they can make learning much easier. Using digital tools that are interactive for example could make more simple graphs much simpler but also fully conclusive, so few incorrect interpretations will be made.

Graphs, maps, timelines,  and blogs can all have their purpose, but the digital humanities can be taken too far if it is not used under discretion. I definitely like the approach that Chipotle took with their game, and as I said before, interactive messages can make the world much simpler while still informative. However, even in digital humanities or media of any kind, rhetoric can be abused and a simplification of a complication can just become much more complicated. There are many things that could go wrong with interpretation and the digital humanities especially as we derive information from ancient periods, but we can only test our technology and intellect to see where it all leads us.

Freud and Derrida: Do Ideas Really Matter with the Archive?

I was very excited to read Derrida and Freud for class because of the criticism and psychoanalysis that they take part in. Derrida’s deconstructionism of different ideas makes a very complicated discussion and everything is very focused on meta theories with him. He thinks Freud’s ideas were interesting but that they did not even begin to cover the true meta-analysis of what would happen with digital humanities and expanding technology for recording information.The limits of our memory, especially with relying on technology to be our main resource, will be expanded, but it can also make limits more complicated and even make our memory not as efficient.

In my psychology of personality class that I am currently taking, we discussed the death drive, the pleasure principle, and the reality principle. As humans, we sometimes try to convince ourselves that anything we are doing is not worthwhile because someone else has done it before, and the need for it has already been explicated upon. However, sometimes we also think maybe there is no need for our input anywhere and we merely have a wild imagination full of radical theories. The reality principle relates to the ego and the pleasure principle relates to the id. The ego develops out of the id though, and the ego is supposed to lower tension that is felt as discomfort by searching for pleasure. Everything is all connected as my book discusses, “We might say that the ego stands for reason and good sense while the id stands for the untamed passions” (Freud, 1933). Other psychoanalysts can point out the connection with the death drive such as “The Superego is like a secret police department, unerringly detecting any trends of forbidden impulses, particularly of an aggressive kind, and punishing the individual inexorably if any are present” (Horney, 1939).

Freud mentions that the death drive is not a real principle but it almost seems to be when we mind trick ourselves. It is an invincible necessity. The pleasure principle is our need to feel pleasure such as with sex or food consumption. I also found it very interesting that Freud used a religious metaphor to explain that evil and rebelliousness, the death drive, can justify a reason for goodness such as God to be an exterior, such as actually partaking in trying to display ideas/ideals even when it seems meaningless. When Freud mentions that he may be wasting his pen and ink, there is probably some sort of sexual connotation. Afterall, Freud is known for interpreting everything as having a sexual causation.

Derrida draws information from Freud to make the point that the archive draws on from from not only the past and what has been archived but also in reference to the archivable future. The archive deals with commencement and commandment and having a place or taking a place. Taking a place seems much like taking ideas from somewhere else while having one’s own place inside their mind, or the technology that controls the archive can involve having a place and taking a place from someone’s memory or previous productions.

There are a lot of limits of what Freud saw in his psychoanalysis, and the magic mystic pad could not even begin to explain all of the computer technology we have now. It may seem meaningless to record what we have to say because in a lot of ways the technology controls us and cannot perfectly emulate what we think. When we type something out or print something, it is never our exact memories and it produces as much as it records. The archival apparatus censors in ways that we cannot control.

We cannot possibly know all that has happened that was never recorded, and we cannot possibly know what the future held much like Freud and Derrida could not have known. Derrida even goes so far to compare finding some of Freud’s works to archaeological digs. There would never be a need to record anything if our memory was perfect. Derrida says there is no archive fever without the simultaneous death drive and archive drive. I believe, and I think Derrida agrees, that Freud underestimated how important it is to repeat information. Even if someone has an idea already, there is nothing wrong with supporting it and expanding upon it because memories and technology are all imperfect.

Non-Sequitur Interface: Anything from Films to Blogs

Especially in the times where we depend so much on internet for our daily lives, interface becomes very important to keep material as organized as possible. When reading the article “Humanities Approaches to Interface Theory” by Johanna Drucker, I made several connections to several different classes I am taking right now. Drucker brought up how non-sequitur elements in comics and film are more contingent and dispersed throughout online media. One is much more likely to come across a non-sequitur element in electronic resources because of the many different aspects of senses in one webpage.

Non-Sequiturs can be very confusing. They are anything that does not logically follow or connect similarly to previous arguments or surrounding objects and ideas. A non-sequitur can be a fallacy, but in the digital humanities, it is just a display of the diversity and complexity in blogs, websites, and other artistic media. I am taking a film class this semester, and one of the major discussions relates to how every role in the production of a film and every aspect of the video and audio in a scene is important to the story as a whole. The interface for a digital humanities website is a lot like a combination of a film and printed humanities. There are a lot of surprises, and nothing is as linear as it is in a journal or book in paper format, and it can be more confusing than the organization of film interface as well. Abstract films are more in line with a lot of digital humanities’ interfaces. There are more combinations of text, audio, visuals, and so on in somewhat seemingly random ways that actually expand upon each other in much more implicit and symbolic ways that are open to interpretation. The term digital humanities in general is very much open to interpretation right now as it is developing.

In a lot of ways, the interface for the best web pages is interactive, attention grabbing, thematic, symbolizing, and informative. Much like we talked about in Marc Santos’ lecture, the way an interface is organized is very rhetorical and can have a lot of impact that humanities in the non-digital world never were capable of displaying and from which they never felt pressured. Some people think that internet usage is shrinking the human brain, reducing gray matter from too much multitasking, and even decreasing attention span and making searching and learning a bit too easy. However, there is nothing easy about interface. A lot of interface in a website helps people think more for themselves and think more creatively and abstractly about the world instead of just taking someone’s literal “word for it” from a book, manuscript, magazine, or newspaper. The non-linear menu aspect of a webpage that includes hyperlinks, audio, video, chat, photos and many other ways to interact takes a lot of concentration, and is, indeed, a form of multitasking, but with limited time we have to be selective about which we choose to click on. Even with information being right in front of us we still need to know what to search for, what to trust, what to interpret, and how to use the web page at all.