Monthly Archives: March 2018

Media and Culture Portfolio 2

After identifying my strengths and areas of improvement in my first Participation Portfolio, I am pleased with my engagement of the course content on my blog for Topics in Media and Culture since then. While continuing to add to the depth and riskiness of my posts, I also improved in the areas of intertextuality, discussion, and timeliness. Overall, I take pride in the quality of my blog posts I have created since my first portfolio.


Depth continued to be one of my strongest categories, as I believe most of my posts could fit under this category. When I read If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler, I felt that my final posts best exemplified depth. In Calvino, Through Ch 9, I wrote multiple paragraphs, analyzed multiple quotes and also made connections to my previous post about the book and The Name of the Rose.

Similarly, Calvino, Through Ch 12 was one of my longer posts because there were so many topics I wanted to discuss. Along with incorporating quotes, I made more connections to my previous Eco posts and analyzed what Calvino was trying to say about reading.

Like Calvino’s book, I also felt that the posts that best exemplified depth for Gutenberg’s Fingerprint were the later ones. After reading a few sections, I became more comfortable with writing multiple paragraphs about topics that I was unfamiliar with while still making connections to previous texts like The Name of the Rose and my own experiences.

My Simonds: Press post was a strong example of depth, as I discussed multiple topics in this section of Simonds’ book and analyzed a few quotes. My Simonds: Book post was similar, with multiple quotes and analysis.

In addition, I included many quotes in my final post about Gutenberg’s Fingerprint, Simonds: Lasting Impression. Along with incorporating a bit of intertextuality by discussing the Plato: Pheadrus dialogue, I blogged about Simonds’ discussion of the future of books.


My first post for this portfolio, Calvino Through Ch 3, was one of the biggest risks I took while writing. Italo Calvino’s book was written in a very different style and introduced a lot of complex ideas very early in the text. However, I integrated a quote and also made a comparison to a musical to help myself better understand this book.

Another risk I took was one of my more recent posts with our Class Activity: Typewriting. Although we were not using a physical typewriter, it was still risky to jump into using a typewriter simulator, which is something I was completely unfamiliar with.

While I was fairly comfortable engaging with Simonds’ text, the one section of her book that I think was riskiest was Simonds: Ink. Although I learned from each section, the Ink section in particular was probably the most challenging because of its deep correlation to art. However, this post ended up fitting under a few categories since I incorporated quotes from the text (depth) and related it to a class activity (intertextuality).


Intertextuality was one section I hoped to improve for this portfolio, and I believe I was successful. I attempted to make connections to other sources in all my posts, and now that we’ve read multiple texts, I find myself making connections among the texts often.

In my Calvino, Through Ch 6 post, I linked to Danisha’s blog post because she had a similar idea about the gender issues in the novel.

My DK Book: Second Glance post was full of connections to Gutenberg’s Fingerprint, and I specifically linked to my Simonds: Paper response, in addition to discussing Simonds’ experience with movable type.

The first posts I wrote for Gutenberg’s Fingerprint were strong examples of intertextuality. In Simonds: Front Matter & Hugh, Me and the Book, I wrote about our discussion of the article about our online reading habits, and I connected Simonds’ words to the TV show Doctor WhoSimonds: Paper also included many connections to other sources, such as The Name of the Rose, previous articles about reading habits, and Dr. Sasmor’s visit to our class.

Additionally, my Simonds: Type post could fit under depth, but because I devoted a large portion of this post making connections to The Name of the Rose, I think it is another great example of intertextuality.


My discussions with other classmates greatly improved from my last portfolio. I commented on a few of my classmates’ blogs, including Kemaura’s The Ink and I post, and Laramie’s Simonds: Front Matter post. Since Danisha commented on many of my posts, I also left comments on a few of hers, including Danisha’s Simonds: Front Matter, Calvino through Ch 9, and Calvino through Ch 6 posts. I also responded to all of the comments on my blog posts this time, which is a goal I set last time.

A few of my posts also generated a lot of discussion. Two in particular each received multiple comments: Simonds: Front Matter & Hugh, Me and the Book, and Simonds: Paper, both posts I placed in other categories as well. Danisha, Laramie, and Kemaura commented on my first Simonds post, and Steve, Kemaura, and Laramie commented on my Simonds: Paper post. I responded to each of their comments, and I was glad to see the vast improvement in my discussion section for this portfolio.


In my last portfolio, I recognized that I began to fall behind on creating my blog posts on time and stated my plan to improve. Some of my Calvino blogs were posted slightly past their deadline, but after those first few posts, all of my remaining posts for this portfolio were posted early or on time. This is a great improvement, and I hope to continue this progress into my next portfolio.


Along with completing all my blogs for this portfolio, all of my posts fit into at least one of the above categories as well. Since I had a few posts in this category in my last portfolio, I am happy that the quality of my responses improved.


My second portfolio was undoubtedly an improvement from my first, and I am very content with the density and quality of my blog posts. I have continued making progress to  achieve the course goals, including improving my ability to analyze and evaluate issues about “knowledge, thought, and literacy.” Each of the new texts that I have read discuss complex issues about these topics that I have engaged with. The other course goal I mentioned in my first portfolio was strengthening my critical thinking and writing skills,  which I have continued to do by analyzing the complex issues in the texts and writing about them. Overall, I have continued to engage with the course goals and hope to continue improving for my next portfolio.

Source: Participation Portfolio 2

Simonds: Lasting Impression

It’s hard to believe I’m already at the end of Gutenberg’s Fingerprint by Merilyn Simonds. One of her first quotes in the Lasting Impression section was:

“Something about printed books elicits strong emotion. People refer to them as friends, as companions, as the scripted playlist to their lives.” (324)

It makes me a bit sad to finish this book, because I really enjoyed going on Simonds’ journey, which made this book feel like a friend to me.

Despite the popularity of digital books, people still love print books. Simonds mentioned how people still buy CDs, even though most of us have all our music digitally, and I thought about how people still collect records as well. We tend to reserve having physical copies for our favorite authors or musicians, but we still do it nonetheless. Print books give us a physical reminder of a story we love:

“My books are my brain and my heart made visible.” (366)

It also blew my mind to think about how ebooks aren’t really yours; you just have the license to read them. That’s another benefit of a print book: it’s yours to keep forever, and no one can take that away from you.

I thought it was pretty coincidental that Simonds wrote about the Phaedrus dialogue, which obviously reminded me of my Plato: Phaedrus blog post. Socrates believed that writing would destroy our memories, and in a way, he was right. But at the same time, we wouldn’t have so many stories from the past if someone didn’t write them down. New technology always has its pros and cons. Another Simonds quote described this:

“We may not be able to anticipate the fallout from the dramatic paradigm shifts, but one thing is inevitable: there will always be someone on the podium, shaking their fist, warning of dire consequence and an impoverished future.” (355)

Print books will probably always be around to some extent. For now, they exist right alongside digital books, and it’s likely that will continue for at least a little while. Even if digital books make print books obsolete, print books will still exist. Simonds also said:

“Technologies come and go. What is eternal, it seems, is the human craving for story.” (373)

Humans are storytelling creatures, and books will always exist in some form to tell our stories.

Source: Simonds: Lasting Impression

Simonds: Book

As I read the Book section of Gutenberg’s Fingerprint by Merilyn Simonds, one of Hugh’s quotes from the book launch stuck out to me:

“‘This book is worth more than any price we can put on it,’ he says simply.” (276)

I always feel connected to anything I write. I wrote a memoir about my marching band experience for my high school senior project and had it printed and bound, and just holding that physical culmination of my work gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment. I can only imagine how much deeper that connection would be if I worked with the people who created the physical book and had a hand in that process.

There was a lot of interesting knowledge in this section as well. I found it interesting that people were really resistant to books at first, especially because it’s so much easier to flip through pages than to read a lengthy scroll. It reminded me of the video we just watched in class for the Class Activity: Typewriting assignment, where the monk was struggling to open a book because it was a new technology.

It was crazy to imagine that Hugh actually sewed the binding of books himself, which would be an extremely time-consuming process. I also did not know that people used to write the names of books on the spines themselves. Although having the name printed on the spine makes books more aesthetically pleasing, I think it’s cool that people could customize books that way.

Another quote that stuck out to me was when Simonds said:

“A printed book is a world I can hold in my hands, a world I can step into and out of as I choose. It is limited and self-contained, which changes how I interact with it. The experience isn’t necessarily better, but it is qualitatively different. Print books encourage depth; digital encourages breadth.” (296)

Simonds touched a lot on the differences between print and digital books in this section, and some of the pros and cons of each. We’re in such an interactive culture right now, which is one of the reasons why ebooks are popular. People like to be able to customize details like the text size and color to make the reading experience more personal. Since we expect that level of interactivity in our culture, it makes me wonder what digital interactivity will be like a few decades from now.

Our culture is also perfectionist in a way. We like things like books to be flawless, free of errors. However, like Simonds discussed, you feel more emotionally connected to something imperfect that you physically created as opposed to something perfect but created digitally. Simonds put it best:

“These books are flawed. They don’t pretend to be made with machine precision. They are made by human hands, a human mind, an exquisitely human heart.” (319)

Humans aren’t perfect, and there’s something kind of beautiful in that imperfection.

Source: Simonds: Book

Class Activity: Typewriting

When I responded to the video we watched in class about the monk who struggled to use a book, I only wrote a paragraph response because I knew using the typewriter simulator would take me more time. Typing a paragraph normally takes me less than a minute, but using the typewriter simulator significantly lengthened the time it took me to complete this assignment.

Normally, I type quickly, but having the backspace key helps speed up my typing process. With the typewriter simulator, I typed very slowly, knowing that one mistake could not be easily corrected. I also had to watch out because there was a few times when I hit a key and the letter did not show up. Everything is so permanent with the typewriter, which is something I am not used to because of computers.

I also ran into a lot of smaller issues as well. Because I was so focused on not making any spelling mistakes, I didn’t realize that when I neared the end of a line, I needed to either hyphenate my words or enter to the next line. I made this mistake for the first few lines, and then tried to keep more of a watchful eye as I went along.

Another mistake I made was not realizing that I was running out of ink. When my text started to become glaringly gray and faded, I realized this was something I had to adjust on my own. I was also partially terrified to mess with the sliders, but luckily I figured it out and tried to maintain a fairly consistent ink level for the rest of my writing.

Overall, using the typewriter simulator was a good learning experience and practice for my upcoming project. Using a typewriter involves a lot of precision and attention to detail, along with paying close attention to multiple aspects of the typewriter, like the ink levels. I’ll need more practice before I type my final document, but having this practice allowed me to catch my mistakes early and get used to a slower, more detail-oriented way of typing.

Source: Class Activity: Typewriting

DK Book: Second Glance

As I browsed through the DK Book for the second time, the “Paper” section was the first to stick out to me. Unsurprisingly, I made a lot of connections between this section and my Simonds: Paper response.

Merilyn Simonds wrote about the process of making paper in Gutenberg’s Fingerprint, but it helped to see photos of the process in the DK Book. The DK Book also showed photos of marbling paper, which is common for the inside covers of books, and the process of dying pages, which involved swirling paint drops in water. This reminded me of how Simonds, Hugh and Emily decided to make the endpapers colorful, which was also a very intricate process since Emily was using plants and making the pages herself.

The “Typesetting” section in the DK Book also reminded me of Simonds’ process with typesetting her own book. It was a little daunting to see an actual photo of a typecase in the book, which was filled with more blocks than I imagined. Not only would it take me some time to find the letters I actually need, but it would also take time to put the text together, especially because it would be upside down and back to front. I also learned that there are multiple stages where you have to transfer your blocks of type, and considering how clumsy I can be sometimes, that part would be a little terrifying for me as well.

Another section that stood out to me was the “On press” section, which discussed the process of running the printing press. Although it was easier than physically writing, running the printing press still involved multiple people to maximize efficiency. I also didn’t know that a printer had to serve an apprenticeship for at least seven years before he could work wherever he wanted. This shows how serious people were about the printing process, which makes sense, since one mistake could ruin everything. No pressure, right?

Finally, the “Typewriter” section was interesting to examine. Although I knew the basics of how the typewriter worked, there were a lot of new details. For example, I didn’t know that a bell would sound when a typist approached the end of a line, or that the appearance of letters could be affected by how heavily you hit the keys. Also, while I knew that the QWERTY keyboard was invented to maximize efficiency, I never knew why. I would’ve never guessed that it helped prevent typewriter keys from jamming as often, and it’s kind of fascinating that we still use this system to this day despite our advancements in technology.

Source: DK Book

Simonds: Press

In the Press section of Gutenberg’s Fingerprint by Merilyn Simonds, one of the first things she discussed was how the word “press” came to represent the entire journalism profession. She included how the word “expression” originally meant representing something in words, and eventually switched to mean producing.

“A printing press expresses words.” (209)

Simonds’ definition works well, especially given the descriptions that follow about the actual print press process. The press itself is a combination of physical parts that takes letters and stamps them into words on a page.

Of course, the original printing presses took lots of human input to run, and they had to be extremely detail-oriented. This was evident in Simonds’ book, as Hugh took hours to get just the right impression, or “bite,” on the paper.

Hugh also had to check for issues with ink consistency, and ran into an issue with dark and light patches, which Simonds said are called “monks and friars.” The terminology reminded me of how we use the words “orphans and widows” in layout for the Setonian, so it’s interesting to see some similarities despite the difference in technology.

The section where Simonds was talking about the digital process of makeready was also extremely interesting to me. I’ve learned some basic coding in one of my courses and in my independent study, and despite it being basic, I find it challenging. I can’t imagine what it would be like for me to go through Erik’s process of coding to make sure all his mother’s ebooks were consistent across different platforms.

However, I realized that coding today is essentially what typesetting and printing was in the past:

“‘Really, really clean code is a beautiful thing. In the same way that a smooth-running press with a perfect skim of ink on the disc and a perfect bite of type into the paper is, and the perfect consistency to the prints even when you look closely at the pages through a loupe – in that same way, you can see beauty and elegance in a well-coded ebook.'” (240)

When people buy a book, they expect it to look aesthetically pleasing and be free of errors. With ebooks, we expect the same thing. We might not have to manually set type anymore, but the process of makeready still exists – it’s just digital.

It also blew my mind that it took Hugh 400-500 hours to print all the copies of Simonds’ book, which she said was about the same time it took her to write. We take it for granted now, but actually creating a book was such a time-consuming process when the printing press was invented. At one point, when referring to the press, Hugh says, “‘The goal is addiction!'” (267) While I always thought you had to be addicted to writing, I realize now that you can also be addicted to the process of making that writing come to life on the page.

I appreciated reading the line where the title of the book comes from as well:

“‘That fingerprint – that’s what makes this copy distinct. Human. It says, ‘Somebody printed this.’ Imagine what it would be worth, a book with Gutenberg’s fingerprint!'” (270)

Even in the digital age, we still seem to hold onto what makes us human.

Source: Simonds: Press

Simonds: Ink

Ink is something a lot of people take for granted, including myself. In this section of Gutenberg’s Fingerprint, Merilyn Simmonds discussed how her son, a painter, made a lot of the decisions with Hugh regarding the creation of the ink for her book. I also got the notion that artists would be the ones who are most knowledgable about ink. While it isn’t something I think about often, my younger sister, who loves to draw and paint, probably knows way more about ink than I ever could.

Simonds really highlighted the importance of ink in this section:

“But it is ink, flowing between the banks of those curves and lines, that makes type – letters, words, sentences – visible.” (165)

There was a lot of new information I learned from this section, like the knowledge that red ink was used for importance in medieval manuscripts. It reminded me of the Google Doc that Dr. Jerz created for us to record information about The Name of the Rose, and he used red ink. Because I was so focused on adding information, I didn’t even think of the significance when we did that activity, but now, I have a better understanding of the process behind the manuscripts.

I also had never considered how ink is created, so I didn’t expect it to be a thick and heavy substance that needs cut and mixed. I found it fascinating as well that ink-makers used to travel outside the walls of their towns to create ink because there was a chance the varnish could explode. It’s a little crazy for us to think that making the material we use so frequently to print our words once risked people’s lives. I like the way that Simonds put it:

“Three seconds. It is easy to take this simple gesture for granted, to forget that for half a millennium, hundreds of men and women cracked their skulls trying to solve the problem of making words visible, transferable, indelible.” (183)

Simonds mentioned how proofs have been commonly used in the printing process to make sure there are no errors or issues with the ink. Even in the digital age, this is something we still do today. For the print magazine of the Setonian, we always request at least one proof (and usually multiple) for practically the same reason people have been checking proofs for centuries. We look for errors within the articles themselves, but since we usually print in black and white, we check to make sure the photos aren’t too dark or too light. We definitely have it easier than people did centuries ago, but ink does still affect us.

To wrap up this section, one of Hugh’s quotes really stuck out:

“‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an easy job like a writer?'” (194)

I’ve never considered writing to be easy, but when you look at the entire printing process, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Plus, if I had to make ink, I’d also think writing is the easy part. Reading Simonds’ book has definitely given me a greater appreciation for the entire printing process.

Source: Simonds: Ink

Simonds: Type

At the beginning of the Type section of Gutenberg’s Fingerprint, I made another connection between Merilyn Simmonds’ text and The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Simonds wrote about how scribes would copy manuscripts by hand for hours on end and wrote notes in the margins (My favorite example was “Oh, my hand!” with “Writing is excessive drudgery” coming in a close second). In Eco’s book, Adso talked about how the monks did this, so it’s pretty obvious that copying manuscripts wasn’t an easy task. Even though the printing press still took effort, it cut back a lot of time and took away some of that pain of copyists.

Although I learned a lot about the printing press itself, I found it interesting to learn about the numerous technicalities the process encompassed. Most of us rarely think about typefaces and fonts because so many are readily available on our computers, but they can give writing more personality. One sentence also stuck out to me:

“‘Not font,’ Hugh says sharply. ‘Typeface.'” (89)

I think I heard that in a journalism class somewhere before.

One new piece of information, however, was that medieval scribes were the ones who developed serifs to fix an issue of writing with their pens and ink. Serif and sans serif still exist as options when we type, so it’s interesting how a technicality from centuries ago still affects our writing in the digital age. Simonds said it best:

“The best of today’s mechanically printed books are providing a high aesthetic standard for digital type.” (114)

Simonds also discussed how she “reads too fast” (127), and mentioned how typesetting would give her the slow reading lessons she needed. Once again, I thought about my response to Our Online Habits Affect How We Read, and how reading digitally makes it easier to skim and lose focus. It was intriguing to read about Simonds’ experience with typesetting, and how it took her hours just to set a few lines of text. Typesetting is really an art form in itself because you have to place each letter and accurately space everything to fit the frame. I’m guessing it would also take me hours to set a few lines of type, so I have a lot of respect for people who were willing to master that skill.

Source: Simonds: Type

Simonds: Paper

The “Paper” section of Gutenberg’s Fingerprint was full of new information to me. I never knew the process of making paper, so it was interesting to learn how the materials and techniques of making paper have changed over time.

One part of the text that stuck out to me was when Merilyn Simonds was discussing how she, Emily and Hugh were collecting plants from her garden to create the endpapers for her book. I never really thought about how endpapers are often just white or a plain color, but I did notice when I first started reading how the endpapers for this book were designed and colorful. Designing endpapers is another detail that adds to the uniqueness of books.

I was also reminded of the durability of paper in this section:

“It has the strength to carry words across vast landscapes, from one time to another, from one person to hundreds, thousands, even millions.” (44)

Although paper can be easily destroyed, if it’s preserved well, it can last for centuries. Despite our tendency to take paper for granted, I usually still write important information on paper so it’s easier to find and remember.

I also related parts of the “Paper” section to The Name of The Rose, particularly when Simonds discussed the making of parchments and the writing of manuscripts. However, I did not know that scriptoriums became popular outside of monasteries by the early 13th century. I do remember in one passage of The Name of the Rose, Adso discussed how he felt the manuscripts at the monastery were authentic because they were preserved there and not distributed everywhere else. The novel took place in the 14th century, so Adso’s words make a little more sense given this new knowledge from Simonds.

This section once again reminded me of some of my previous blog posts, particularly Our Online Habits Affect How We Read and Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read. Technology makes us more apt to skim readings and get distracted, and Simonds discussed how many people prefer paper:

“Despite this, many research subjects continue to state a preference for paper. They like the way paper feels. They like being able to shuffle quickly between pages that are chapters apart. They say they don’t feel as tired after reading a paper book.” (55)

When we read or write on physical paper, it forces us to slow down and really focus on the task at hand, which is something Dr. Sasmor talked about with our class. As Simonds mentioned, there’s also a personal aspect about paper that you can’t get from reading or writing digitally. Despite all the technological advancements, paper still plays a pretty large role in our society.

Source: Simonds: Paper

Simonds: Front Matter & Hugh, Me and the Book

Our latest book for Media and Culture, Gutenberg’s Fingerprint by Merilyn Simonds, grabbed my attention right off the bat because it’s different than the other books we’ve read so far. The first section introduces the situation: Simonds decides to publish her book with a man named Hugh, using a process similar to that of Gutenberg.

Even though I have not learned a lot of the details of the printing press process yet, I know it’s not a simple undertaking. For this reason, I think Hugh’s excitement for this type of publishing is pretty admirable. Despite the difficulty of this process, it seems like the final product is worth it in the end:

“The test proof he hands me is beautiful. Dark red ink on paper so creamy and thick it might be birchbark or a peeling of sandstone. I run my fingers over it, feel the physical texture of my words pressed into the page.” (12)

As I read Simonds’ description, I could visualize the copy that Hugh created, which is very different than normal print in books or digital text on screens. Even though we’re used to reading ebooks, I think many people are still attracted to physical texts, especially because work like Hugh’s is very rare today. Another one of Simonds’ phrases related to this idea:

“We’re caught in a paradigm shift. Words are the constant, with paper on one shore, pixels on the other.” (18)

I thought of our previous discussions about online reading, and my response to Our Online Habits Affect How We Read. We’re so accustomed to digital reading, but we find it harder to actually pay attention to what we’re reading. Reading a physical text forces us to read carefully, and having a beautifully crafted manuscript I think would add to the authenticity of the reading experience.

I also appreciated Simonds’ reference to “Doctor Who” in this section. It reminded me of a quote from the 10th Doctor, who said, “Books! The best weapons in the world.”

I have a feeling that Simonds will definitely discover the power of books as she embarks on her journey.

Source: Simonds: Front Matter & Hugh, Me and the Book