“Memoir in a Digital Age”

If you were to lead a workshop like this one, what genre of (hardware or software) tools would you teach?

Ground rules:

  1. Tools must be affordable or (preferably) free.
  2. Tools must not require advanced computing skills: knowing how to use a word processor and knowing how to use a web browser should be enough.
  3. Tools would preferably already be owned by workshop participants.

Memoir in a Digital Age
Learn to document and reflect upon your life through the use of various simple and affordable (or free!) digital tools and media. Participants will work with their choice of text, image, sound, and video to create a memoir appropriate for the digital age in which we live. No advanced computing skills required.

George H. Williams is a teacher, scholar, volunteer, would-be hacker, indie enthusiast, nonprofit advocate, word herder, and world traveler.

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computer-assisted text analysis: bush’s state of the union addresses

Via Crooked Timber comes this link to a tool you can use at the New York Times website to analyze the content of all of President Bush’s State of the Union speeches.

This is a fascinating and powerful demonstration of computer-assisted text analysis. Technologies of reading facilitate traditions of reading. Think of the ways in which a book’s index, table of contents, running heads, and page numbers all contribute to your effective use of that book. These typographical features allow for and even encourage nonlinear reading: we can drop in at any point in the book, perhaps led there by an entry in the index or in the table of contents, and know where we are, thanks to the running heads and the page numbers.

Here, the NYT has created, in a visually eloquent format, an example of a new kind of reading enabled by electronic texts. It’s very well done, and not so complex that the average online reader can’t figure out what to do. However, this kind of presentation is not universal enough for all of us to agree on the best way to proceed or the significance of the results.

Here are some suggested words to search for:

  • africa
  • sudan
  • aids
  • humanitarian
  • weapon
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