To Kill a Mockingbird Giveaway!

Win a free paperback copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee! 10 winnersMockingbird Template will be drawn on Friday, October 24. To be eligible, you must DESIGN a mockingbird using the template provided. Copies of the mockingbird template can be found at the CIRCULATION desk, RESEARCH HELP desk, and the MEDIATECH desk.

Place your completed mockingbird design(s) in the box at the CIRCULATION desk (legibly signed with your name).

You can design MULTIPLE mockingbirds, but you will be eligible for only 1 book.

Winners will be randomly drawn from the box of entries.

By submitting your design, you are giving Van Wylen permission to display them during the month of this year’s Big Read.

The Cyborg Changeth: One Dude’s Response To One Part Of CIS

Editor’s note: This post by Patrick Morgan is in regards to the recent Critical Issues Symposium held at Hope College. Contact Patrick at morganp@hope.edu

We – the privileged fraction of humanity with enough access to the very basic things (like food, water, and shelter) to allow us both leisure and capital – often take the structures and workings of the numerous intersecting information ecologies in which we participate for granted. Hope College’s 2014 Critical Issues Symposium, being devoted to exploration of “technology” and its cybernetic relationship with, ultimately, some general notion of “humanness,” seems like an ideal opportunity to reflect on libraries’ and information technologies’ role within this context.

It may seem too obvious to point out that this topic is immensely complex. I do so, however, to provide a basic rationale for focusing on just a single, interesting problem that came up during Gloria Mark’s engaging address on 9/24. At its barest, the goal in this short essay is to begin teasing apart the paradoxical problem of analogic digitalization.

I, like many perhaps (or at least, many within the “privileged fraction”), like to speculate on the eventual changes we are wringing on ourselves by our increasingly “data-driven” culture. Like Prof. Mark, I think certain changes in human communication patterns already demonstrate the decisively clear influence of, for example, even archaic technologies like SMS (texting); you certainly won’t need to wander far if you need proof.

In her well-known essay “The Cyborg Manifesto,” Donna Haraway also discussed the reciprocal nature of tech-human interaction. Her focus was on the transformative nature of our technologies to alter both our bodies and our ideas about them, and even their contexts¹. It is not difficult to make the leap from machine-organism interaction to code-organism interaction, both occurring, ultimately, on the border between humans and the dehumanizing technologies we create to make life “better.” Analogically similar they are; in terms of effect, however, the stakes are interestingly different.

Prof. Mark noted that certain complex human phenomena – like conversation – digitize poorly. This is to say that information, when carried over from an analogical, organic process into the digital world, is inevitably lost. MP3s, convenient as they are, can suffer from a lack of tonal depth for this very reason. I completely agree that this is worth talking about. However, this forces us to confront certain assumptions as well, a few of which are fundamental to the work she discussed, and which could appear paradoxical.

I was struck, in particular, by the way her study attempted to digitize human experience in general. In examining the connections between social media or email and mood, for example, data were gathered by measuring certain physiological manifestations of stress (like heart rate, etc.). This raises a number of related questions. Here are just a few I have found myself thinking about:

  • How exactly does one appropriately convert human emotion (or some other subjectively-experienced phenomenon) to something digitally manipulable?
  • With that in mind, if even a human practice such as conversation is impoverished in its reduction to the digital, then what can we predict about how digital models of human responses are also impoverished?
  • How can such a study differentiate between so-called eustress (“good” stress) and the negative sort?
  • With respect to email and emotion, why did the responses appear to vary when mobile and traditional platforms were used to access it?

These questions center on what it means to be a digitally-augmented human, and though they almost certainly differ in at least some (and likely several) ways from your own reactions, I hope they’ll provoke you to keep thinking about the sessions you attended yesterday, and what you yourself found most engaging. That is, after all, the purpose of the CIS in the first place, right?


¹It is worth pointing out that Haraway goes well beyond tech-human symbiosis, centering her discussion on the ways our “cyborginess” affects readings of gender and nonconforming human bodies.

 

 

 

Visiting Writers Series

The Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series of Hope College begins this year with two Hope grads. Katherine Bode-Lang is the author of The Reformation, a recent winner of the 2014 American Review/Honickman First Book Prize. Laura Donnelly published her first book of poetry in 2013, entitled Watershed, which won the 2013 Cider Press Review Editors Prize. The library will have copies of their books available, along with the other visiting writers.

Both women will be available on Thursday, September 18 for a Q&A at 3:30 pm in the Fried-Hemenway Auditorium, Room 135 in Martha Miller. Later at 7:00p, the ninth annual Tom Andrews Memorial Reading will take place in Winants Auditorium, Graves Hall. Read more about them at http://jrvws.org/calendar/katherine-bode-lang-laura-donnelly/

 

Attention First-year students and Seniors!

Display poster, snacks

If you’re a first-year student or a senior, we need your help! The 2014 HEDS Research Methods Survey is currently underway and we need you to participate. This survey will help to improve research methods, help us assist you more effectively, and will update FYS functions. The survey is open March 20-April 24 and only takes about 15 minutes to complete. If you qualify to take part, you should have received an email with the subject line “Help Hope College with your feedback!

We’ll even throw in a bonus. You can stop by the 2nd floor computer lab in the library to fill out the survey and get Hot Chocolate & Cookies either Monday, April 7th or Tuesday, April 8th from 8-10pm. Not only will you be entered for a chance to win 1 of 3 $100 cash prizes (what?!), but you’ll also affect Hope’s future by participating. Win-win! It’s quick, simple, and online. What are you waiting for?!

Presidential Colloquium with Professor H Russel Botman

At 4pm on Monday, March 3 in Winants Auditorium, Graves Hall, join speaker Russel Botman as he presents his Presidential Colloquium Address entitled “Stellenbosch University’s HOPE Project: A Vision for Academic Renewal”. In addition, on Tuesday, March 4, Botman will present his keynote address “Mandela’s Children: Shaping a University” at 4pm in Dimnent Chapel. The presentation of Honorary Doctorate will take place as well. Learn more about the Colloquium by visiting the site.

Professor Hayman Russel Botman is Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University (SU) in South Africa. He holds a PhD in Theology from the University of the Western Cape (UWC). As a prime mover of SU’s HOPE Project, Botman is leading the initiative to eradicate poverty, promote human rights, and create a sustainable environment with a competitive industry, among other things.

For links to Professor Botman’s writings and speeches, and more information on higher education in South Africa, see this guide.

Random Acts of Kindness Week

Did you know February 10-16 is Random Acts of Kindness week? Here at Van Wylen we love to celebrate random acts of kindness. Right now on the first floor of the library you can write down your ideas about how to spread kindness to friends, family, and strangers. One person wrote “Tell someone they are beautiful” while another said “Make an international student feel at home.” What random act can you do for a stranger this week? For inspiration, visit http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/.

Random Acts of Kindness Random Acts of Kindness Random Acts of Kindness

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re interested in pursuing more on this topic, the library has some resources available to you. A subject search in the catalog for “social action” or for “humanitarianism” yields lots of books and ebooks to peruse. For scholarly articles, try your hand at 1Search. You’ll receive lots of results from across many databases, which you can then narrow down according to your criteria.

VWS Presents: Ismet Prcic & Benjamin Busch

vws

The Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series continues on Thursday, January 30 with authors Benjamin Busch and Ismet Prcic.

The authors will be available in Fried-Hemenway Auditorium, Martha Miller Center for a Q&A session at 3:30pm. A reading will take place in Winants Auditorium, Graves Hall at 7:00pm. To learn more about the authors and the Visiting Writers Series of Hope College, visit http://jrvws.org/2014/01/24/vws-presents-ismet-prcic-benjamin-busch/.

Both authors’ books are available at the library. Learn more about Benjamin Busch’s memoir “Dust to Dust”  and Ismet Prcic’s “Shards“.