Week Three Thoughts

Oh XML, where to begin.

I’m not the most tech-savvy person in the world – I would still rather take notes with pen and paper – so XML was a little overwhelming for me to say the least. Our reading for the week, “What is XML and why should humanities scholars care?” took a few read-throughs in order for me to grasp the concepts of XML and this foreign language of code (can we call it code?). But I think a lot of this had to do with the fact that I never understood the technicalities that went behind the words I type on the internet. Even now, the thought of having to manually produce new paragraphs, punctuation, and tagging makes my head spin, and I have a new appreciation for those who do. Needless to say, the demo we did in class with CWRC was interesting, although still confusing, but being able to put it into practice helped me understand it a bit more (“bit” being the operative word). It brought to my attention just how time consuming it is, particularly with tagging, and the multitude of tags that exist. For some reason, the realization that anyone has the ability to edit online pieces (such as what we did with the sample letter) really sunk in during that demo. It brings to light the simplicity of plagiarism online and how a piece you produce can be altered past the point of recognition. The Bob Dylan assignment was more entertaining than I thought it would be, and it brought a humorous aspect to something as technical as XML, which was much appreciated. Having no previous experience with HTML, XML, or any markup language made this week a little difficult for me, but I am glad to have had an introduction to such a vital part of the technological world we live in. Slowly starting to crawl out of the hole I live in, apparently.

Like everyone else, Chelsea’s demo on Prezi definitely brought back some flashbacks from high school projects. From an audience standpoint, I like how visually appealing it is and the fact that the audience feels more engaged with the presentation (not-so-fortunate for those with motion sickness). But I always used Powerpoint because I prefer how straight-forward it is to use, it’s simple to understand, and gets the point across. Nothing against Prezi, I’m just a big fan of simplicity.

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to examine markup language closer, especially because it’s such a prominent part of digital writing. I’m hoping to continue crawling out of the hole I live in as the class progresses with each new digital platform being introduced.


One thought on “Week Three Thoughts

  1. Yes, you can call it code, though a computer scientist might well sneer if feeling ungenerous.

    Your comments on simplicity connect for me to what people were saying about the writing interfaces we looked at today: minimalism is highly prized in many technological contexts (remember our discussion in week one of the connotations of sans serif fonts–and then consider the draft.in presentation style.

    There’s a real tension I think between simplicity and transparency. Markdown is great for basic (or even quite sophisticated) formatting, but it has nothing like the power of XML, which is as you say pretty intimidating when you first encounter it.


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