Wordsworth Word Cloud Inspired Poem

Remember that word cloud that Dr. Pandora handed out? Well, I’m  not sure if any of you wrote a poem (except one fellow student), but I encourage you to post it here if you did. Hope you enjoy what I’ve written.

 

(Untitled)

Meadow breath hanging

over verdant ground’s belly,

in valley collapsing, slow,

with mood of ease,

lonely in its droop.

 

A pace, a bounty,

a motion of utter drift,

solitary in this motion,

feeding the starved scene,

quietly letting all that can be

become grand, become river.

 

Intent on standing, breath builds

cottage. A sincere testament to

tranquility, it hardens, canopy of

living green creasing, bleeding into

form.

 

All that speaks doth require

breath.

That breath is of the meadow, that

body of solemnity; that effigy of

sun-purpose, that statuary taking any

shape it can, adapting to all stimuli, wilting when needed.

Close and Distant

In my attempts to assess the benefits/drawbacks of close and distant reading I’ve found that I tend to limit my view of each method by reducing them to two examples, each from an individual’s perspective while employing the methods during research. The first, the example of close reading, involves an individual analyzing a small selection of work, doing so with care in repeated reading of the entirety of a text, highlighting as he/she reads, ultimately interpreting the work using a personal filter or specific lens. This form of reading, the reading most of us are familiar with, is reading for the purpose of understanding the form (structure) and function (intended effect) of the text, with special attention being paid to context and the “meaning” or impact of the works content. As individuals we bring our life-experience to the table when we attempt to analyze, in this way we are better at understanding the humanity in a body of work. However, though we excel (at times) at relating to the text we also excel at ignoring, rejecting, or overlooking potentially important information. Because we are limited both by how much we can read and our comprehension/retention of that which has been read, we aren’t great at recognizing patterns present within a corpus. Our focus on a specific work or area limits us to a “canonical fraction” of the larger body of work it belongs to.

The second example, the example of distant reading, sees an individual involved in research requiring the ability to search within a corpus to find patterns and thematic or canonical connections. You’ll notice my description of this example is quite short, the length reflects my understanding of it. I’ve never really researched using distant reading methods, and until this course hadn’t really been exposed to it as a concept, and even after reading the assigned material find that it is difficult for me to wrap my head around. I recognize the potential in distant reading, it allows us to do what we never could, we can ask questions before unanswerable and establish more quickly connections and patterns within a vast collection of work. We can even find connections between corpora, something of tremendous impact for historians as it can take what might have been considered unrelated works and find links that perhaps we never could. I fear that this method, however, is detached and cursory. Where close reading involves a relationship between the humanity of the work and the reader, it strikes me that the same connection isn’t present in distant reading, because it isn’t reading in the traditional sense.

Using both close and distant reading while researching, I think, is an exciting prospect. The inherent negative aspects of the respective methods seem to balance out when the methods combine.

Of course, there is still the issue of the politics of curation, but I’ll save that topic for in-class discussion.

 

While searching for information about distant reading I came across this article, which I think you all may find interesting: http://blogs.loc.gov/digitalpreservation/2014/10/close-reading-distant-reading-should-archival-appraisal-adjust/

 

 

 

 

Education

” We don’t have to choose between them. Both have value. The Circle is a lump of qualified, sober experts. The Facebook page is a big, throbbing lump of people who want to talk about Heidegger for whatever reason. The two together form a loosely connected network of people who care about Heidegger. The participants collectively know more, they find answers faster, their curiosity is more stimulated, they are made aware of more facets of their topic, and they are involved in more discussion about those facets. The multi-way nature of the Net enables smart experts to be smarter than ever, although it’s clear that the Net can also enable us to go down wrong paths with ever more certainty.”

— Weinberger, Too Big to Know, p. 63-34

The paragraph  quoted above caught my eye as it seems to translate well into a commentary on the current state and future of education in the “digital age”. Below I’ve placed a condensed collection of notes I wrote while reading chapters 1-4 of Too Big to Know. I tried to clean it up to make the thoughts more coherent, in the process I may have made them more convoluted. Sorry for that.

The death of obsolete or plain misguided pedagogical methodologies is (and has, for some time, been) coming. The internet is not the bullet in the gun, it is one of many nails in the coffin, and as far as I can tell, not the final. Knowledge, with its various definitions, is as much affected by the new shape(s) of the information available as it is by our means of discussing and navigating that information. David Wheeler, of Plymouth University, UK, in his presentation on learning in the digital age, put it well when he wrote “For the first time we are preparing students for a future we cannot clearly describe.” That future, I think, will rely on networks of thought, networks spreading the obligation of expertise rather than attempting to contain it within a Teacher or single room. If I’m right, or at least not completely wrong, then in an age where the overload of information has been overloaded, where one’s ability to navigate the networks of knowledge is as much a struggle as the attempt to understand the information, we must adapt and create rooms that speak with rooms. Creating a network of classrooms, classrooms wherein teachers share the stage with other experts, where students understand their power to filter and contribute, is no easy feat, but it may just be the future of learning, a future we can’t clearly describe because we are still in the process of building it.