Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Digital Era Themes

I have a few concrete ideas and practices and more general questions at this point. To my fellow classmates: please comment and share your opinion to let me know if you get my meaning or if I’m off in my line of thinking with connecting the 6 themes to today.

Here is a list of digital era practices/concepts that I think fit well within the 6 themes we are using to explore the Renaissance:

1. Ad Fontes
We continually search for “original” content in our digital realm. Whether they be originally done songs or skits on YouTube or essays and blogs from a variety of people through a variety of mediums: Twitch, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Apart from just consuming “original” content, we are also still propagating the print tradition in our digital tradition. Such as we discussed in class. I believe there are also examples of people looking at original works (be it in print, archeological excavations, indexing, or otherwise) and learning from them and translating them in our digital age.

2. Brave New Worlds
In our opportunity for connecting with other people regardless of distance, we are in a sense destroying the “New World”. In our discussion of The Tempest the island is a magical place that is apart and different from where we live. I believe that people living in our time and age who go from day to day remaining ignorant of the world around them have this magical image in their heads of normal places. A few examples would be a romantic notion of Hawaii, Canada, Jamaica, and all of Europe. The interconnectedness of the web helps educate us and discover that we share more in common than what we have in differences with our fellow man. Very much like how the characters in Shakespeare’s play looked to colonize the new worlds before them, we our conquering ours in the pursuit of getting to know one another either personally as we live together or through our communications on the web.

3. What a Piece of Work is Man
In exploring our new worlds, we find our fellow man and we ask the questions of good and evil within ourselves. The internet shows us the very brightest of mankind with stories, pictures, and videos of loved ones, hope, courage in the face of adversity and anything you can attribute to good. There is also the flip side to that as we traverse the underbelly and decide whether this device of communication will be a boon to us or our downfall. In Facebook posts, YouTube videos, and blogs we can see how some people put thought into what they are saying and how raw human emotion may bypass that thinking and lead to regrettable actions and hurtful words/messages.

4. Plough Boys and Bibles
In the discussion about religion and its merits we have every option to explore. I saw a video the other day of how a Muslim interpreted the Koran to have faith in Christ and convert to Christianity. I see a countless list of items resulting from a google search for the question, “Why Christianity is Evil”. The world we live in is much the same in that we love and adhere to our traditions passed to us by our parents or other authority figures. Our courage to question the sources and use that to either prove or disprove what works for us is our key for enlightenment. Who’s to say we won’t have a modern day Luther who questions our status quo for typical Facebook posts and challenges us to strive for a higher purpose?

5. Typographia Conservatrix
The written word is man’s treasure for passing knowledge on. As mentioned before, our digital age allows us new ways to use the internet as a tool and we don’t have to adhere to the same limitations as the paper and pen dictate. Yet there will always be residual. Our texting habits show an ease of communication. But at what cost? Is our language doomed to delve backwards into common colloquialisms/abbreviations or is this the way forward to how we can better connect with each other? We see how links over the years become dead and we lose precious information that can feasibly last forever on our digital disks. Perhaps the eBook will become the new standard for how the majority of people will read as those of us who grew up in the “Printed Age” die out.

6. Sprezzatura

The court culture of the Renaissance sported an actual court and with it a court culture/ideal. Tying well with Humanism, these ideals called for what the privileged of the world had to offer their fellow man. In today’s era we continually talk about how great America is. Questions of our ideals and how we deal with other nations range from the politically correct to an attitude of colonialism. Rather than talk about how we as a nation should act, I feel how we approach day to day life is a reflection of Sprezzatura. Our practices of dressing up for the job interview, service projects, helping others come to my mind when I think of our own Sprezzatura that we practice today. The discussion of our nation’s education system and whether or not art, music, and the humanities should still be taught is in debate when weighed against more technical, “useful” subjects.


  1. #4 piqued my interest. You note a "countless list of items resulting from a Google search for the question, 'Why Christianity is Evil.'" Now, I hope you'll forgive my cheek, but I did a Google search for "Why Christianity is an Ethiopian frog" and got 595,000 results, so apparently Google does not distinguish between popular questions and absolute nonsense.

    However, this did lead me to ask myself what aspects of these themes may be quantifiable on some concrete scale. It's all very well and good to say "Facebook allows the production of more original content," but can we measure per-capita content creation and compare it to other valuable metrics? Counting Google results may not be very useful academically, but I think you're on to something with trying to find a numbers-based argument for the meaningfulness and impact of certain themes.


    1. So did Google tell you why Christianity is an Ethiopian frog? Because I've always wondered that.

  2. My heart kind of hurt when you mentioned that the printed age might die out. I guess this ties in with Ad Fontes in which we go back to the sources and go back to the texts because I still would much rather have a hard copy of a book than a digital one. Although the written word is even more widespread now because of the internet I hope that the written word doesn't lose its value.

  3. In response to you Jaz, I think the value of digital copy is being discovered and celebrated and even though digital has exciting value I don't think the value of one takes away from the value of another. Obviously I cannot fully predict the impact our digital culture will have, I think print is too engrained in our society to be wiped out easily. I also think the benefits of digital are not fully replacing the benefits of print. Books aren't like floppy disks.

    1. Aren't they, though? I mean, a book is a way to store a certain amount of written material depending on its page number, font size, etc. A floppy disk holds a certain amount of data. CDs became better at it than floppies, so floppies died out. The only reason that books are still around is because of the nostalgia factor, I think. As soon as we find a way to reasonably access all of the info we keep in books in a digital way, they will die.