Processing Words

I remember when I was younger I really wanted a typewriter. When I went to high school, I faced the challenge of having to actually use one for my college applications (my high school wanted to make sure students had the experience of using different tools for writing). But the problem with this word-processor is that you can’t go back on your words…well, you can, but not every typewriter has a white out option. Simply put, the function of being able to edit and correct ourselves as we write has transformed the way we process our words, leaving no trace of our errors behind.

…as a consequence we conceive of print and the digital as rival or successive forms rather than as elements of a process wherein relations between the two media (at the level of both individual and collective practice) are considerably more dynamic and contingent.

Dr. Kirschenbaum, at the University of Maryland, makes as strong argument for the transformation of word processors over time. Tracked changes are also a new element brought upon by word processors that text processors can’t quite conceive as a collaborative work. In fact, I find it incredibly useful when I am editing memorandums at work and need to provide the suggested changes for acceptance to someone who is at a higher level. The ability to mark and track changes as we go in a document changes our perception of authorship in writing.

However, sadly the precepts within these word processors such as Google Docs and Word have built-in settings (such as formatted text). The benefit of text editors is that they make your words more transferrable with code. I can attest to this because several times in the past, I’ve tried to open an old word document (with no code) into a regular notepad or an updated Word, and it completely loses the text or is unable to open it (turning the characters into weird symbols). With a plain text editor, there isn’t as much of a web of problems.

Text editors allow for you to have flexibility and code as you please without limitations to make the words look the way you want. A lot of my friends use Sublime Text which I will admit is one of my favorites as well. I think that overall, its feature in allowing the variables to be changed if necessary is a huge plus. The split-editing is particularly useful when trying to be efficient with your code so that you can do it from multiple monitors and spot any errors immediately.

I love Wikipedia and the open forum it provides; however, it also means that anyone at anytime could incorrectly delete or add text.

Keep in mind: sources like Wikipedia are not perfect and do not advertise themselves as so.

6 thoughts on “Processing Words

  1. Nhu, I too wanted a typewriter. I had this grand plan of retiring in a shack on the beach with wine, my typewriter, and words to sustain me. Then I used one and hated it.
    I agree with your comment on authorship and how tracked changes has affected that. I also agree that tracked changes is one of the largest benefits of word processing becoming automatic. No longer do I need to read someone’s scribble and arrows to understand edits, which is helpful. It is also nice to be able to see a side by side comparison of the original and the edits. However, I do fear that the younger generations will no longer understand editing symbols which to me is sad. I love my carrots.

  2. I will agree word processing devices from typewriting to digital writing (like Microsoft Word) has come long way from it’s humble beginnings. It’s been a great improvement that allows a greater variety of capabilities and less difficulty in the end. I also agree that Wikipedia is not the most dependable source of information as it is crowd-sourced where individuals or groups alter information for better or worse.
    Personally, however, do not feel confident with using code-encrypting programs (like Sublime Text editor) despite seeing the uses for it. For example, some of the code that is seen can be confusing without prior knowledge of their meanings or abbreviations that altering these codes, markup, prose can disturb the text unexpectedly; hopefully this class can expose and teach me these functions better.

    1. Vincent– if you’d like you could join the extra credit project. I could give you a tutorial on XML language and you could practice on a section of the text. If you don’t want to work on the extra credit but want to discuss coding languages let me know! I understand HTML and XML languages, XML being used in textual digitizing as it is more fluid and extensible. 🙂

  3. Nhu,

    Your comment that “[t]he ability to mark and track changes as we go in a document changes our perception of authorship in writing” really resonates with me. I had not done much collaborative writing until I started teaching and was exposed to Google Docs. I am looking forward to experimenting with more of the Word Processing tools that we’ve been reading about this week. I have not yet tried Sublime Text, but based on your recommendation, will try to experiment with it. One of the things that I like most about these weekly blog posts is the ability to share and learn from each other’s experiences and suggestions. Thanks for yours!

    By the way, I also have never tried adding to Wikipedia (as I mentioned in one of my other responses, I have a love/hate with that site), specifically because of the fear that I would be deleting some key portion of the text (I love the graphic that you included – that is ***precisely*** my fear!), but am looking forward to playing around with it in class tonight. It is good to push ourselves to get out of our comfort zones!

  4. I agree that Wikipedia still has its issues, but I believe that for the most part the site has gone through its “growing pains.” Wikipedia has been fairly thorough in its development of “checks and balances” so to speak… most of the high-traffic articles have a protected or semi-protected status that prevents much of the careless (or malicious) editing that takes place. As long as we teach students to read Wikipedia articles with a trained-eye, it can still make for a valuable tool.

    1. to further elaborate, even though Wikipedia is not a very credible source, Wikipedia does hold facts that are credible due to us being able to see the citations as well as create our own searches, and finding similar facts that are seen on Wikipedia, so even though it is not credible, it is still a source that can be used to give us an idea or a brief introduction about something, yet it is always good to be mindful.

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