Final Blog Post on Too Big to Know.

“What we’ve discussed so far in this book should lead us to hypothesize that scientific knowledge is taking on properties of its new, becoming, like the network in which it lives: (1) huge, (2) less hierarchical, (3) more continuously public, (4) less centrally filtered, (5) more open to differences, and (6) hyperlinked.” Weinberger (153)

Chapter eight’s focus is on whether leadership and decision making is affected by the networked Net. The answer is yes. Weinberger states that “because the new generation is having its expectations set by its Net experiences, decisions within hierarchies will increasingly take on characteristics of decisions made by networks” (Too Big to Know, 170). Leadership is now shifting to the group being led instead of being the responsibility of a single authority. “The change has occurred in part because the Net has made people more familiar with the benefits of connecting across hierarchical lines” says Weinberger (Too Big to Know, 161). On that account, the benefit is of having a fresh pair of eyes. Not long ago, it came to my attention that there is a noticeable differentiation in the way the Baby Boomer generation thinks compared to the Millenial generation. The distinction can be found in political views, religious views, social views, all the way down to eating habits. For example, I recently had a conversation with my boyfriend’s mother in which she disclosed to me how she is having a hard time convincing herself that she does not need a bread, a starch, a meat, and a vegetable at every meal because that was the frame of mind she was taught by her parents to have in regards to dinner. I found her predicament rather interesting compared to the eating habits of my generation. I find that my generation is not stuck in a set pattern, and I accredit that to the information on the internet. How is the internet changing the way my generation interacts with the world?   By giving us an overload of information through open access publishing and crowdsourcing that forces us to look closer and decide if what we currently believe is really the best choice out there. To offer a small sample to the scale I am talking about the way the internet affects how we think, several of my friends have joined the trend of an alternative eating style, such a Vegan, vegetarian, or Paleolithic. This is owed largely to the fact that the internet offers blogs and recipes that make being vegan look like the best choice, but there are sites for every eating style. Ultimately, the user chooses on their own. This is a departure from being affixed to one train of thought.

It was while I was watching two politicians, who of course were from the Baby Boomer generation, discuss an issue through horse blinders that I formulated my hypothesis that the internet is responsible for changing the way my generation confronts the world. I could most certainly be wrong, but I am of the opinion that an increasing number of Millennials are more open minded. This is because we get our information from more sources from an earlier age, not just passed down to us from our parents or from a single news station. Yes, the open knowledge aspect of the internet can get messy, but this is what shows us how diverse the opinions all around the world are; and because my generation is growing up in this era, we are not as stubborn to change our views when we find information contradicting what we had previously thought to be truth. Weinberger says in chapter nine that knowledge is a “web of connections that shows itself to us depending on our starting point, viewpoint, and inescapably human sense of what matters to us” (Too Big to Know, 180), and then several pages later, he adds that “we make ourselves stupid when we restrict ourselves to tolerating only the mildest disruptions of our comfort. For the Net to maximize its capacity for knowledge, then, we need to push past our urge to stick with people like us” (192). I do not believe the internet is making us stupid, I believe it is our resistance to change and our possessiveness of our prejudices. I agree with Weinberger that “If we want the Net to move knowledge forward, then we need to educate our children from the earliest possible age about how to use the Net, how to evaluate knowledge claims, and how to love difference” (192).

 

 

So little time

The old lament “So many books, so little time” that allegedly originated from Frank Zappa addresses a problem that the digital humanities hope to alleviate. However, as it begins to fix the problem of time consumption, there are concerns being raised over the research deficiencies that also follow.
A close reading is the act of meticulously examining a specific media. When a human does a close reading it involves the incorporation and the conceptualization of all prior knowledge collected. A human can make connections from the media being inspected to outside sources that were learned years and years prior that might not be obviously connected. A human also understands the humor and differing cultural aspects that might be embedded within the media. This insight, however, comes with a price in the form of hours and hours of time commitment and the possibility of human error. Take for example, the DailyCognition’s “Blog of Unusual & Funny News Worldwide” article titled “7 Illusions Illustrating how Powerful & Stupid Your Mind Can Be” where they share brain teasers to demonstrate how easily the human mind can be tricked. The first one on the list is the phrase “A bird in the the bush” where the second “the” is on the second line, so that the reader almost always misses it the first reading. The next teaser appears to be the word “Good”, but upon looking at it closer, the word evil is written within. Number six asks the visitor to read the following phrase and count how many times the letter “F” is in the text: “FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY COMBINED WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS….”. The average reader only counts three F’s the first time. However, there are six.
Converting to utilizing the internet search engines to find information and “read” the media, known as “distant reading”, has opened the possibility of completing a reading at the click of a button. Nevertheless, in order for it to work, one has to know what they are searching for. This creates a problem in that it operates within horse blinders. The search engine will provide you with the results relating to your search directly, but it might not offer other perspectives; or your results will be dependent on popularity. Stephen Ramsay points out in his article “The Hermeneutics of Screwing Around; or What You Do with a Million Books” that
“The problem is that that much information probably exceeds our ability to create reliable guides to it. It is one thing to worry that your canon is not sufficiently inclusive, or broad, or representative. It is another thing when your canon has no better chance of being these things than a random selection.” (113).
As it stands right now, close reading and distant reading are most useful when they are used together. Distant reading can get you in range quicker and offer cliff notes for your topic, but one still needs to do a close reading if the true meaning is to be understood.