Keyword: Typing

Typing as a term can generally mean two different things: On the one hand it describes the act of “producing text via keyboard;” on the other hand it describes the process of defining and categorizing objects and people according to discipline-specific categorization systems. For the purpose of this keyword activity, the first meaning of typing will be investigated further.

The term typing is derived from the word type, which designates the combination of font and cast in a printing press. Types were assembled into lines and then into a form from which prints could be made. 

Examples of metal types. Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ae/Metal_movable_type.jpg

For several centuries, typing required the repeated manual composing of each type to build a text. To make this time consuming task more efficient, the 19th century saw various efforts at mechanizing the process, not all of them successful. For instance, the Paige Compositor, named after its inventor James W. Paige (1842-1917), substituted a mechanical arm for the human typesetter. Its lack of precision, however, made it more or less useless for the printing industry and the machine is today mostly known for almost bankrupting author Mark Twain who had invested both his royalties as well as his wife Olivia Clemens’ inheritance.

Other and more successful typesetting machines were already based on the principle that commands entered through a keyboard would result in the mechanical arrangement of the types into a text. The Linotype machine from 1884 was named after its capacity to arrange an entire line of type in one step.

In the Monotype System, holes were punched into a paper tape via a keyboard, with the tape then fed into a casting machine that arranged the types for print. Since these machines were based on the actual molding of the various types in the printing establishment, the process was also cold “hot metal typesetting.”

As the printing process evolved in the middle of the 20th century, so-called “cold type” or “phototypesetting” replaced the “hot metal” casting of types. Instead of casting actual types, the “cold type” process was based on the projection of fonts onto light-sensitive paper, hence the term “phototypesetting.”

Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a3/Linotype_CRTronic_360.jpg

In the 1970s, these phototypesetting machines gradually became merged with evolving digital technology. With the advent of personal computers in the 1980s the typing process once again fundamentally changed the process of typesetting. The process had now become much faster, even though purists bemoaned the fact that it was the qualitatively less compelling fonts of the phototypesetting period that made the transition to digital fonts instead of the aesthetically more appealing fonts of the “hot metal” type era.

Lately the arrival of touchpads and touchscreens on a range of digital devices, from the laptop computer to the tablet and to smartphones, has complicated the definition of typing. The term typing invokes the rather static configuration of information moving from a human being’s brain into a technological “container” via a normed keyboard. But this kind of information can now also be produced via voice input and via different hand gestures. Additionally, media in general have become more interactive and dynamic, with information being updated repeatedly and not only by the gatekeepers of certain media platforms by users themselves. A more appropriate and flexible term might thus be “interfacing.”

Materiality

By Lauran Whitworth
Secondary Author: Jasmine Ponder

Fragment of the Antikythera Mechanism (believed to be an astronomical computer made ca. 87 BCE)
Image courtesy of Andrew Barclay via Flickr and Creative Commons.

 

The Oxford English Dictionary defines materiality as:

  1. That which constitutes the matter or material of something.
  2. Material or physical aspect or character; outward appearance or externality.
  3. The quality of being relevant or significant.

Most often used as an accounting term, one can think of materiality as what imbues stuff with its “stuff-ness” or substance. The Latin roots of the word derive from materia meaning matter. In the context of digital technology, much has been written about what Matthew Kirschenbaum has called “the haptic fallacy,” the belief that we have to be able to touch something for it to be “real” (Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination). Consequently, some of us may be inclined to deem the digital, such as the x-ray image of the Antikythera Mechanism pictured above, as less material or even immaterial because we can’t reach out and touch it in the same way that we can grasp the original object being represented.

In an age of cloud storage and data shared across multiple devices, digital tools are becoming increasingly ethereal and abstract. In response to this, Ted Dawson offers up “the hammer fallacy” as his take on the haptic fallacy. He explains, “[…] if there is something that can be smashed with a hammer resulting in the loss of your digital object, then that object is material. Of course, in our age of cloud-computing, you might have to smash quite a few different things to lose your file. The hammer principle helps us remember that this condition, in which the destruction of your hard drive does not mean the destruction of the digital objects stored there, does not make those objects less material, but rather means their materiality has been amplified, that the material accretions of our digital lives are multiplying” (“The Hammer Principle: Smashable (and Sustainable) DH”).

Our Connected Learning class, ART 120, has embodied this idea of “amplified materiality.” In the early weeks of our course, we began explicitly engaging materiality as course leader Nell Ruby taught us about the principles of design and tasked us with taking photographs of an array of textures, shapes, colors, and forms.

 

We tweeted our photographs of sunsets and stairwells and the shiny skins of tomatoes, transposing them into the Twitter-sphere and arguably amplifying their materiality through social media and the enhancements afforded by iPhone cameras and their filters.

In class three, we read George Siemens’ “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age” (2005) and discussed rhizomatic learning, a “net-enabled” pedagogical approach influenced by French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari and inspired by the rhizome, a subterranean plant stem that grows and sprouts horizontally versus vertically. Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophical ideas and abstractions are rendered all the more material and cognizant through that most organic and “down-to-earth” of metaphors, the growing plant.

A rhizome of Bearded Iris (Iris germanica) showing old and new leaves and a small root.
Image courtesy of John Bebbington (awaiting link).

These horizontal nodes serve as models for networked learning. As Juha Suoranta and Tere Vadén explain in “From Social to Socialist Media: The Critical Potential of the Wikiworld,” “The division between a hierarchical tree-like democracy or organization and that of the rhizomeian democracy or organization not only has political implications in the ideas of ‘leaderless revolution’ and networked dissidence but also educational implications in how to organize curricula […]” In this model, “teaching cannot be easily seen as an authoritarian activity but more like ‘subversive activity’ (Postman & Weingartner 1971) in which teachers, along with their students, compare information from various sources, negotiate their knowledge and experiences together, and interpret the world.”

As Suoranta and Vadén make clear, the implications of this rhizomatic model extend beyond the classroom. We witnessed this in our Women’s March studio project, which created a multi-perspectival research approach by chronicling different facets of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. From protest signs to viral March photographs to critiques from marchers and non-marchers alike, our posts became a networked archive of the March and its “amplified materiality.”

 

Network

In the digital age, mattering, in both senses of the word–being physically substantive and being relevant–has shifted how we think about who and what matters. The haptic fallacy, that we have to be able to touch something or, in the case of the hammer fallacy, to break something for it to hold value to us, no longer applies. As this course has demonstrated, the seemingly immaterial–connected learning, social media activism, online communities, hashtags and re-Tweets–is often what matters most.

 

 

 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the state of being aware in the present.  Merriam Webster dictionary defines mindfulness not only as a mental state, but also a physical activity that requires the brain to observe and reflect on their surroundings that is nonjudgmental.  Mindfulness in the context of Connected Learning becomes synonymous with metacognition, a learning technique that allows students to take control of their own learning by focusing on “sense making, self assessment, and reflection” (BBC: How People Learn).  In other words while students are participating in the virtual world, they are also learning about how they are responding as individuals and in relation to the course.  This definition primarily focuses on the role of the brainstormer, researcher, and analyzer that students self-appoint for each weekly reading assignment.
The Role of the Brainstormer
According to the course syllabus, the brainstormer position makes students “think out loud” by tweeting responses to passages, ideas, words using the hashtag #agnesconnected.  In week two brainstormers had to tweet images in response to learning about the Elements and Principles of Design in Sturken and Cartright’s Practices of Looking reading assignment.  Student Shaniece Wilson tweeted a mailbox image and used terminology related to the text such as “repetition”, and “lines”.  This tweet perfectly displays mindfulness because

  1. Students are understanding the material and applying it to a social media platform to create digital literacy
  2. Twitter creates a place for future discussions that may or may not be used in Connected Learning, but outside of it.
  3. The act of tagging agnesconnected may be specifically for the Agnes Scott community but followers on a student’s Twitter account can also engage in the conversation, because Twitter is a public domain

The Role of the Researcher
In the course syllabus the researcher’s task has to select a name, word, concept phrase or reference in the reading to examine and write a response provided with links.  In week seven, researchers had to select a concept from “What Facebook Owes to Journalism” by Steve Waldman.  Student Alex Jester discusses her interest in the decline of news media and references “State of News Media 2016”.  She ends her research synopsis with questions such as “do social networking sites suffice to cover local news and community?”  Her research response displays mindfulness because

  1. Students are going beyond the text and consciously exploring what could be useful to your personal understanding
  2. Students are trying to find a concept that could be applied back to the reading

The Role of the Analyst
The course syllabus instructs the analyzer to select a particular portion of the reading that presents problems or complications and writing a summary about the student’s findings.  In week seven, faculty member Chris Bishop discusses Mark Zuckerberg’s comment about the lack of social infrastructure in present.  He references “Millennials Don’t Deserve NYC” from the New York Post and writes, “This takeaway encapsulates an important point, the replacement of traditional social infrastructure with forums such as Facebook and other social media outlets are certainly important in expanding our understanding of community. However, it may be just as important to look at how millennials are seeking to find space for themselves wherein being “alone” may be more fulfilling than being in a group, whether virtual or physical.”  His analyst response displays mindfulness because

  1. Being an active reader by asking questions that could be useful for discussions in this class
  2. Forcing students to develop their own opinion about the work itself

In conclusion, all these roles make students consciously engage with learning and learning together on a digital platform.