Monthly Archives: September 2013

A Whole New World.. of Faster Reading and Note-taking

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Photo: www.123rf.com

 

This may seem like a strange thing to get excited about, but I cannot believe the amount my productivity has gone up since I installed a second monitor this afternoon.

As I believe I have expressed in previous conversations, I am very hesitant when it comes to technology and the amount of extra work that comes with learning or relearning how to use newfangled things. I am quite aware that the idea of the dual-monitor is not a new idea. My boyfriend has had a dual-monitor set up for his gaming for going on three years now. But I have continued to trudge along at a snail’s pace when researching and typing notes on a single screen.

Until this summer I was working with Windows Vista, which I absolutely loved. I loved the ease of use and I found it extremely well designed. I also loved my Toshiba Satellite laptop that I purchased before beginning University in 2009. That laptop survived having a large Chai tea with two milk, two sugar, dumped accidentally into its keyboard in March of first year. It survived until this summer when I finally decided waiting an hour for a computer to boot up was slightly ridiculous. So I sadly began my search for a new computer, I really didn’t want to buy another one, I didn’t want to learn a new operating system, I didn’t want to back up all my files and move them to a new, barren computer. You may find this dramatic but I really hate buying new things, I suppose that is why I love history so much. I love the story that comes with antiques or hand-me-downs. Alas, a computer is not something that can be handed down anymore.

After weeks and weeks of trips to stores comparing the brands, options, and capabilities, I finally decided on, you guessed it, a Toshiba Satellite. This one however is 4 years newer, half the weight and 2 inches smaller which really helps avoid the constant back pain. The downside is that it came equipped with Windows 8 which I still do not understand fully. I will be on one page, accidentally move my hand and I will suddenly be looking at my photo albums. I miss my Windows Vista. It only took me 4 years, but I knew exactly how to use it.

Yesterday I began my very long list of readings for the upcoming week. Usually I print the readings off in very tiny font, two pages to a sheet and double sided, to get the most out of the paper. I was confronted with a problem, a lot of my readings were from websites where it was very difficult to copy and paste and edit down to my usual set of specifications. So I had to come up with a way to make it easier to make notes while reading without having to flip back and forth between word and the webpage and periodically losing where I was in the jungle that is Windows 8. I remembered I had a small flat screen my dad bought me in first year and with my new computer’s specifications there shouldn’t be any problems hooking it up. After a lot of rummaging I finally found a VGA cable and hooked up the screen. I changed the input on the flat screen to VGA and the screen came alive!! However, it was the exact same image that was on my laptop, slightly anti-climactic. I fiddled around with the settings and FINALLY found the option for Devices that led to “Second Screen”. I cheered! I chose the option to extend the screen to my flat screen and with that, I cheered again!

Then came getting back to my readings. I was amazed with how seamlessly I could move from reading to note taking without even losing my spot. I cannot believe I didn’t think to implement this sooner, it is the greatest technological advancement that I have mastered by myself within the last little while and I be happier. Hence this very optimistic post. 

 

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As I was performing a scavenger hunt for the origin of the popular phrase “Oh the Humanity” in audio form, I came across this very interesting digital archive website with a plethora of photos, recordings and other interesting things about historical moments in American history.

Just by reading the Introduction page, you understand exactly what the site is attempting to do. Eyewitness is connecting with a wider audience than would ever have the opportunity to go digging around in the archive. The site provides personal accounts of pertinent historical events in American history, specifically those that would be most popular.  After you find the Hindenburg Disaster Broadcast, be sure to poke around under the other headings to see what else you can find!

Follow the instructions below to reach the online location of the Hindenburg Disaster Radio broadcast:

Click the tab displaying Contents.

AONA 1

Click Scenes from Hell. Click Herb Morrison- 1937 Hindenburg Disaster.

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Click 2nd tab displaying the picture of the microphone.

AONA 2

Click play on the audio player.

AONA 3

Oh the (Digital) HUMANITY!

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www.aweber.com

For this blog post assignment, I found two articles that discuss blogging: Stephanie Trigg’s “Blogging, Time, and Displacement”, and Nancy Groves’ “Academic blogging: the power and the pitfalls – live chat”. I will also refer to Dan Cohen’s “Professors, Start your Blogs” in the post below. Links to these articles can be found at the bottom of this blog post.

I am a great supporter of blogs, bloggers and the blogosphere. I enjoy reading random blogs rather than following one particular person unless their topic is so interesting I can’t turn away. The blogger is free to write about whatever they want, whenever they want and unless what they say is truly provocative and tagged with the right hashtags, someone may never attack you for your personal viewpoints. The ability to be protected by a computer screen, even if your name is attached to the blog, provides a sense of fearlessness. This lack of fear can allow the blogger to produce a piece that is astonishingly brilliant because they are not under the confines of what society is expecting them to do, say, and write. Blogs in the academic sphere provide a space for academic pieces that wouldn’t normally fit into the social fabric of a conference room or a peer-reviewed journal. They are snippets of the wide world of history that not everyone can always gain access to.

I also think that blogs provide a space that allows for the blogger to use up all the extra research they compiled for a topic that did not turn out to be enough for a paper. Blog entries can allow the blogger to take a chance on a topic that they may not be experts in yet, but hope to eventually research enough to become proficient in the subject. Blogs are micro-essays much like twitter is a microblog. Even though for the most part blogs are not organized into a recognizable essay format, blogs can serve the purpose of getting out your ideas to readers that may be able to offer suggestions and research materials. These blog posts are not normally scrutinized to the same standards as journals or papers are that are typically presented at conferences. The internet can be a very dark and scary place where anonymous people can rip you to shreds, but blogging communities can form that are very supportive, and can allow you to explore your chosen topic further.

Trigg demonstrates that blogging, for her, is a displacement activity which allows her to move away from the task at hand for a brief time to collect herself and later move back to the task with a clearer mind. Trigg provides a description: “the phrase ‘‘displacement activity’’ can describe an animal’s response to conflict, or indecision” (Trigg, 934) She is basically conveying that humans, like animals, sometimes need a break from the heat of the moment in order to return full force and deal with the situation. Trigg’s ideas ring true in my own experience because I tend to write poetry or blog posts when I am supposed to be focused and finishing up a final draft of an essay. My brain simply is sick of what I have been doing and wants to go in a different direction. Blogging seems to be a space for clarifying your thoughts, and allowing your mind to take a break from the under pressure discussions you may be having in a class or the 5000 word essay you may be writing. Blogs can allow you to provide a coherent understanding even if you were making little sense in a classroom discussion.

But does this mean since our brains need a break from what we have been focusing on that what we write during our displacement time cannot be incredibly profound or intellectual?

In Nancy Groves’ article, she quotes Denise Horn (well-known blogger) as saying: “Minority academics who blog must, now more than ever, be aware of how important it is to articulate their ideas and their knowledge outside of our departments, our journals, and our conferences. Blogging is a space in which we can do that.” This quotations demonstrates what I believe academic blogging can really achieve. Sharing ideas isn’t just in the classroom during a lecture anymore, the discussion needs to continue with people that do not hold the same degrees and credentials as we do. Blogs can begin the conversations and give those that don’t normally have a voice in an exclusive historical society a chance to speak up and have their ideas taken seriously. This is important especially when we are in a field that we cannot concretely define and explain. Being able to converse and present ideas with likeminded people from across the world that we normally would not have access to is an incredibly exciting and valuable practice.

Cohen disagrees with the idea of blogging frequently in order to be successful. He mentions the use of RSS feeds which allow for new content to be pushed along to the reader whenever it is posted. I was unaware of this type of system until today, and am now incredibly intrigued by the possibilities. The precise reason I dislike using technology is because it is incredibly time consuming, and this type of development will certainly speed up my internet perusals.

For a blog to be effective does a blogger need to post weekly? Or at least have some sort of schedule so that the follower can expect to have a new post awaiting in their RSS feed? Can random bloggers be just as effective and captivating?

Sources/Readings:

http://resolver.scholarsportal.info.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/resolve/17414113/v09i0012/933_btad

http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2012/oct/19/academic-blogging-power-pitfalls-livechat

http://www.dancohen.org/blog/posts/professors_start_your_blogs

Sidenote:

In relation to my title, I kept saying “Oh the humanity” all day writing this post and couldn’t remember what t.v. show I remembered it from… I finally looked it up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEpLncBG_Nw