when a horse tweets

in this assignment, students transformed the non-sequiturs of a Twitter stream into stream-of-consciousness-esque literature, producing an #RHEADD version of twitterature. These short texts attempt to make the following spam tweets by @Horse_ebooks coherent:

You Do You

In a world where the selfie has become our dominant art form, tautological phrases like “You do you” and its tribe provide a philosophical scaffolding for our ever-­evolving, ever more complicated narcissism.

— Colson Whitehead, “How ‘You Do You’ Perfectly Captures Our Narcissistic Culture” in the NYTimes

Adam J Banks

In the pursuit of greater equality in our education system, from K to PhD, technology access, print literacies, and verbal skill all collide as requirements for even basic participation in an information-based, technology-dependent economy and society.

— Adam J. Banks

Digital Griots (2011)




With regards to computers…

With regards to computers, I was quite lucky growing up. My father has changed between jobs, but has always worked with computers at some point- many children see their parents obsoleted by computers rather than using them. I found myself in a number of schools thanks to frequently moving, but I recall all but one of them having a computer lab that I wound up using- this course has shown me that schools exist even in the States that have no computers, or leave them all in boxes for nobody to use. At twelve I got a machine of my own- it unfortunately had Windows ME on it, but I didn’t realize at the time why that was an issue, and it was more informative than having no machine at all. I also wound up with a book on C# and tried teach myself how to program- while the effort seemed futile at the time, I actually remembered quite a bit from it when I found myself in a proper Computer Science course at high school. From high school I had the final fortune of already living close to and being admitted to the University of Texas, one of the better schools in the nation when it comes to CS.

As someone who codes, I can say with certainty that computers are complicated. Getting an operating system to run properly with no memory leaks is complicated. Making it secure is complicated. Making programs that can run on a variety of environments is complicated. I see machines as fallible tools; necessary, mostly reliable, but very prone to particular errors that need to be known about. Nothing on a machine is perfectly secure; even before the NSA’s spying was publicized this was true. Likewise machines are never infallible; even if it’s running perfectly stable code (a myth in itself for anything non-trivial), hardware defects can and do happen.

This post was written by a student, and has been left unedited by the admin.

Everyday Internet

Everyday I wake up and check email on my iPhone. Everyday I bring my iPad to school. Everyday I sit down at my Mac to surf the web. Everyday I use these electronics to connect to the internet and take for granted a privilege that many people on this world haven’t experienced once due to the digital divide. Iv’e been given many opportunities that have connected me to technology and web resources. My parents are definitely not standard “digital immigrants.” They had computers thrust upon them through work and quickly learned them before the “digital natives” were thriving. According to Prensky, I fall into the category of a “digital native”, I feel like it’s because I was surrounded by technology and good teachers. I definitely don’t think I learned how to use the internet on my own, and maybe that’s simply because I didn’t have to. In my life I haven’t really experienced a native-immigrant relation. While I see some older people struggle with computers, I see their children having similar problems. Likewise most of my peers  that I know are good with technology have parents that are as well. This could just arise from having a small sample size, but it is what I’ve observed.

Starting from first grade I used computer programs to explore the world map or learn math. Every year after I’ve been in contact with computers and the internet for research or personal use, so it’s very hard for me to hear that many high schools don’t have access for their students. I never gave a thought to being privileged to have them, but now I really see the importance of all schools, especially elementary level schools. Lower income schools should be helped to get good access to the internet because it really helps students become acclimated to the new digital world as they learn rather than being thrown into the fire later just for wanting to do well in life. This becomes increasingly important if the students are considering college. I am very lucky to attend a top tier university, and I use the internet all the time. Sometimes its for researching, checking assignments, or for hobbies. Being at a university also provides me with access to computer programs for free that usually cost hundreds of dollars such as MatLab or Mathematica. I am also taking programming classes which I hope will help me become even more computer literate.

On the internet I’m the default: a white male. I can go to sites like Reddit without being attacked by racism or sexism. I’m in the majority of internet users as a white male and a sole consumer. I rarely use social media very often to create content. I normally just view and enjoy the content others have made on YouTube, Facebook, or other forms of social media. Since I don’t use these to speak out to the world, they aren’t as important to me as to other users. I’d likely be unaffected if social media disappeared, but I understand for others it can be one of their only lifelines.

Overall I think my position in the digital divide has been created through being surrounded by resources and teachers that understood the importance of learning the technology. I’m able to look at people without the same privileges I had and realize just how important it is to help them out and give them more equal opportunities. It’s very hard for me to imagine my life without computers. They have been so ingrained in me, and as I progress further into my career in sciences I will also need to rely on them even more for data and modeling, researching and publishing.

This post was written by a student, and has been left unedited by the admin.

Divides on the Bridge to Communication

Through my years of using the internet as a means of communication, the idea of digital divides never really occurred to me until after taking the RHE309K Arguing the Digital Divide course. This class made me think of how everyone including myself are divided digitally in some way. When I used the internet to connect with my cousins from China, I saw technology playing its role as a bridge to connect myself to them. For the longest time, I only saw the bridge, and I failed to notice the obstacles that were on that bridge. When online and connecting to people in China, users need to be aware of what they say, but when there is a language barrier, it acts as an ever bigger obstacle towards communication.

Occasionally, I would communicate with my cousins using e-mail in English since the most Chinese I have taken was one semester of class. Since English is a required foreign language in the Chinese education curriculum, I assumed that their English is pretty good, but of course English is one of the hardest languages when learned as a second language, meaning there is a limit to their abilities compared to the level of native English speakers. This brings me back to the time in high school where my grandmother and parents wanted to try communication through video chat which was free instead of using the traditional method of calling. Since most of my cousins in China had a QQ account, it made sense for me to create my own QQ account to connect with them; however it was easier said than done. The QQ site did not have the option of changing languages and everything was in Chinese. My dad, who could read Chinese but did not really understand the vocabulary of basic computer usage, tried to translate everything on the page to me. We eventually downloaded the program and created an account, but we had trouble getting the video to work. We ended up giving up and had my cousins create Skype accounts. We have been communicating with Skype during holidays ever since.

I recently went on QQ for this assignment and apparently they have a QQ international now. Unlike Skype where there are many language options, QQ international only has English, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese. Even though English is a language that is growing as it is being taught all over the world, it acts as a divide for older generations from foreign countries from using it. It is not just the foreign languages but also the computer language that acts as obstacles on the bridge the internet creates for communication. In addition, people usually prefer using the language they are more proficient in than a second language. If QQ international is trying to become truly international, and allow the world to gain access to it, it needs to provide as much language options as possible. For one to conquer the personal digital divide, one must understand the languages, languages that act as obstacles on the bridge, the bridge to communication.

This post was written by a student, and has been left unedited by the admin, with the exception of any hyperlinks.