My first digital encounter might have been the digital calculator I used to verify my math operations in kindergarten with. It was red, big, and noisy. Then, Santa Claus gave me my first personal computer (I remember it was a DELL) when I was 7. However, I still used computers in kindergarten to play Bomberman and Mortal Kombat. The first thing I used my own computer for was to create a drawing in Paint and call it ‘a bit of purple’ (although half of the canvas was purple). The second, was playing Minesweeper. Since there was no much I could do with it, my parents started buying CD-ROMs with games and software, bring home floppy disks with other games from their colleagues at work, and other CD-ROMs with music from my neighbors. I had a pretty interesting and enviable collection of games and applications that me, my sister, and my friends all enjoyed and never got bored of. Yet, I had no idea how small that collection was.
This was all that the fascinating world of computers meant for me for around two years, until I had access to Internet. When I had finally understood where that blue lowercase ‘E’ icon (Internet Explorer, for those who were born later in the century) can take me, my interaction with the digital world changed drastically. I started creating data (although, at that time, and in every other context I call it “surf the net,” “text,” and/ or “listen to music online”) at high-speed. With all this, I needed a new computer, a more performant one that could keep up with my online actions. Every time I would do that, however, I had to store everything I had on CDs and reinstall/ copy all the files in the new computer. Not only this was a tearsome process, but sometimes it would not even work since software continually updates. After changing the Central Unit couple of times (regardless of the desktop monitor I was using), I finally had my own laptop which is currently, alongside with my smart phone, storing an important amount of data I voluntarily or involuntarily create(d). The next thing I knew, I was using digital cameras, I was an active user of social media, and I had entire databases of pictures, music, and Word documents stored in my computer.
I lived in the online world for quite a while, watching films, listening to music, chatting or texting, reading online books and articles, reading the news, writing papers for school(more or less since the educational system I was previously part of was not making much use of digital means nor resources), and so on.
… and Present
The first time I learned (or cared to notice) that there is an intersection between the fields I am interested in and the one I had very basic ideas of during high school (humanities and, respectively, computing) was during my first J-term class in New York called Social Media and Political Participation. For this class, we had to extract data on U.S. politicians out of their Facebook and Twitter accounts and analyze them using the R programming language. That experience led me to believing the saying ‘Not all things are black and white.’ applies in the academic division as well. I came to understand that today’s world does not work better only with humanities, the same way it does not work better only with computing, but that some intersection between them can lead to amazing things. That is why I decided to continue and learn more about where this fortunate collision of two worlds may take me to.
From what I noticed from my habits, what I mostly use the digital space for currently is school, keeping up with international news, and staying connected with my home (since studying away requires one to have Skype calls every once in a while, text friends via Whatsapp, and send pictures over Facebook). However, I have for a while been wishing to create my own online identity – which is a website, linked to my Twitter/ LinkedIn accounts – where I can unfold my professional activity in the world of Arts and Humanities. This is why I am taking both humanities and computer science classes, take part into Interactive Media workshops, and attend conferences on related topics. I believe this short step I am taking right now to be fundamental for achieving my goal, one day, when I will be a digital writer, a social media specialist, and a photographer.