The readings this week are all very interesting. The article “How a Prototype Argues” presents an optimistic perspective of utilizing digital humanities; “Literature Is Not Data” (“interesting” in its particular way) and two brilliantly written objections both have very clear and distinct standpoints; the deep learning article pertains my research interest (Yay); the TED talk introduces us to how the Google searches our words in its ginormous data bases of digital texts.
The particularly interesting article, as mentioned above, Marche’s “Literature is not Data”, as a whole emphasizes the negative sides of exploiting the digital technology. Practices such as distant reading or converting the literature to data, whatever that means, inherently jeopardize our ability to understand literature and distinguish the bad from the good or the worse. This point can be easily dismissed by the lack of evidence and contradicted by the fact that my favorite “Virginia Woolf is no danger on this count” (Selisker). As Syme mentioned, Marche’s negative language also does not offer an objective description of what Google is doing and how people perceive Google Books. Just as a personal experience, none of my professors have stopped me from using online textbooks. In fact, lots of very well written books and manuals have already been put online for free by their authors, such as this and this and countless others. The author of the former also humorously linked to the “dead-tree version” of his book on Amazon. I guess Marche has not realized some erroneous assumptions he has made about the scholars nowadays. Most academic scholars are not like money grabbers like John Green who lives on publishing books; they write books outside of their academic practices, in their leisure hours, so it does not matter to these authors what form their books are published in. Not to mention lots of ebook selling websites use DRM to make sure that the readers have paid for what they read so that no copyright infringement or monetary loss will be caused. While academic journal is another story, well written papers such as “Emergence of Limit-periodic Order in Tiling Models” (by my phy TA) and “Where am I” (by Daniel Dennet) will surely be circulated in its academic pool. The assertion that being published online either undermines the judgment of its potential readership or is to be buried under millions of rubbish is simply not true.
Another personal experience of mine with digitizing the learning experience comes from this website the Mathigon. It’s a website full of AWESOMENESS that made me weep the fact that I had not been born some time later to enjoy leaning math through this interface.
Our future generation is going to be so much smarter.