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.

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