Databases Becoming a New Genre in Technology

From the article, “Database as Genre: The Epic Transformation of Archives, written by Ed Folsom‘We are coming to recognize, then, gradually but inevitably, that database itself is becoming a new genre, the genre of the twenty-first century. Its development may turn out to be the most significant effect computer culture will have on the literary world, because literary genres have always been tools, families of technologies for exploring the realms of verbal representation as it moves from the lyrical to the narrative to the referential, from vision to action, from romance to comedy to satire to tragedy, from story to play to poem to essay, with all of the subgroups and various meldings that genre theory has spawned over the centuries” (Folsom). In the world today, the computer media, and the way everything from books to archives are becoming digitalized. So the question of the day is, are databases a new genre in the world of media and computers? Are archives even close to becoming a new genre, too? Hmmm.

For me, this question are both yes and no. Databases are there to help look up old and new articles, etc. With archives we can find old and new books, poems, etc, but archives, and databases are two very different medias that are either digital now, or still within a text format. So are we in the midst of having a new genre on our hands? In the words of Folsom, “Archive and database do share a desire for completeness (though that desire can be and often is subverted by those who want to control national or institutional memories), but the physicality of archive makes it essentially different from database. There will always be more physical information in an archive than in a database, just as there will always be more malleable and portable information in a database than in an archive” (Folsom). I think that databases, and archives are both becoming a competition into oneself; will these two very contrasting medias become one, one day? Folsom argues within his article, “Database as Genre: The Epic transformation of Archives,” that Lev Manovich, who writes on digital media ruining text explains that the database, “is the enemy of narrative, threatening it at every sentence, always shimmering, accessible, there (Manovich). With our books and other texts going into the digital world of the computer, we are seeing more and more people arguing and disputing over how it is ruining the books that were once on paper, but now are in the archives and databases, never to be seen again because of how many books and texts are backed up into the system of the database or of the archive. Databases are becoming their own genre because of how we have everything going back into this system; we (the world), see and do it everyday with putting old books from authors from centuries ago, and even authors in today’s world going back into the archives and databases. Even though people think that these databases and archives are saving the texts, other people see it as destroying and forgetting about some of the greatest books, poems, and novels, and throwing it all away by putting them away for good.

So, the conclusion of this blog is that, for me, I think databases are becoming their own genre from how huge and how drastically everything is being put away into these databases everyday, every month, every year. We are seeing the texts that we once used on a daily basis, going back into the technology that is being changed constantly. Databases are becoming their own genre, and will become a major dispute between author and technology in years to come because databases are making it public for anyone to see, and this is making people mad and upset; text once used to be the “thing,” and now we are seeing it as just something of the past, while databases are the new genre of the world right now in today’s society and communities.

Ed Folsom


Working with the DALN (Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives)

The DALN (Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives) is a digital archive of different pieces of material and digital media that students, and teachers use to teach, learn, and even contribute to society. Within the archive there are Word Documents, movies, audio files, etc; these collections are created to help and to teach students how to use different medias in order to learn, and to teach others. As I went through the collection, I found many articles, movies, etc that peeked my interest. Two pieces of work from the archive that really interested me was an article called “Alcohol” written by an unknown author, and the movie “Computer Literacy” by Mike Mansour. The article is about how a boy who disliked alcohol began to like it once he turned into an adult, and could manage his intake of the drinks at the bar. The “Computer Literacy” movie is about how people learned how to become computer literate. Starting off with the article about alcohol, this was written with the media of using a software such as Microsoft Word. This kind of media or digital software is very common within the archive itself. The article that the unknown author wrote about his life experience with alcohol is to show and to teach people and students that it is ok to accept something that was once rejected in life. Secondly, the movie was made with a different digital media. The movie could have been made with a iMovie or some other software that creates movies that was created by Mike Mansour. Both of these works were made by students to show, and to teach other people and students about computer literacy, and to accept something that was once hated upon in one’s life. The difference between these two projects are that, of course, the different softwares that were used to create the two pieces of work; another difference is that each piece has its own meaning. Each piece was meant to explain and to teach something different from the individual who created it. Furthermore, both have a few similarities, such as, that they both teach the students or whoever reads it a lesson, such as how someone became computer literate, and how the unknown author finally accepted his intake of alcohol because of how he taught his mind to control his own actions of the drinking. Another similarity of these two pieces is that they were both made by students, which is very impressive. With more students working, and creating more and more digital media, the world and the way educating students will change drastically; this is a good thing in the world of technology because of how our digital media changes every few months. Overall, these two pieces have a few similarities, but has some differences which make each one unique in its own way. The DALN is a great place to find work by students to teach others something about whatever they want to create. With how the world is constantly changing at a speedy pace, there will be more websites and archives such as the DALN for students to create and share their own ideas and creations throughout the world.

Media in Today’s Society

Within the world today, we have new media emerging all of the time. We humans have he computer, the iPhone, etc, and without these new technologies, we would not be able to get through a single day because of how they command our lives. Lev Manovich states, “The greatest interactive work is the interactive human-computer interface itself: the fact that the user can easily change everything which appears on her screen, in the process changing the internal state of a computer, or even commanding reality outside of it” (“New Media from Borges to HTML”). The computer is a magnificent invention that creates new designs and softwares that run the world around us. Even in the 1990’s, people were looking forward into the future, and saw how computers and media would change the lives of us humans. We even see the change of technology within the classroom, where computers and softwares are being used to teach students; students are now interacting with the Web more and more. There are even websites designated, and created by students that show how the world is changing through the different technologies that we are coming up with. New formulas and softwares are being created simultaneously and consistently; we are using these softwares and these new formulas to connect us to the computer, and vice versa. The computer is the creation of the mind, and now the computer is becoming so human, that it can practically do anything that anyone wants. Communication with computers to humans is so normal now, that no one thinks twice about it on a daily basis. As Lev Manovich states, “The emergence of new media studies as a field testifies to our recognition of the key cultural role played by digital computers and computer-enabled networking in our global society”(“New Media from Borges to HTML”). For me, I think people should not be afraid of the future with the new technologies that are coming into play, but they should embrace the new medias that are being created.

Murray Chapter 7

“And even if we could fill the encyclopedic capacity of the computer with all this information, it would not make for more expressive digital narrative because stories do not draw on generic information about the world but from inflected interpretations of a purposely limited slice of human experience” (Murray 210). The computer is able to create stories, but every story is from human experience; this is why the computer, and the human are so closely related to one another in many different ways. The computer has its flaws, such as storytelling. “A story is an act of interpretation of the world, rooted in the particular perceptions and feelings of the writer” (Murray 204). The mind is also like a computer in many ways from the many frameworks that we go through to create a story with a plot, characters, and a theme; we think in formulas. Murray also mentions within the chapter of how stories work in formulas; every story has a basic base, and then from there it is like a math equation from how everything, like the characters and the plot, and how they interact to create the story itself. A story is full of elements, and formulas have elements that create that one answer or story. Once the whole formula comes together, the author then has the answer to the equation or formula. Connecting storytelling to the computer, we see that computers have to have formulas in order for them to tell their own story. The computer’s formulas connect together to create softwares, games, etc. The computer has so many formulas to it that no one actually truly understands how they all work together in the world today. Murray’s book was written in 1997, but many of her outlooks on the computer are so true. Murray also mentions within her book that even back thousands of years ago, the telling of stories orally or written all added together to create great works such as the Odyssey. Everything in life is a formula, it is the human or the computer that is able to control the formulas, and solve them, or even create something new from them. “But for now we have to listen very, very carefully to hear, amid the cacophony of cyberspace, the first fumbling chords of the awakening bard” (Murray 213).


Murray Chapter 3

“Computers are the most capacious medium ever invented, promising infinite resources” (Murray 83). Computers are the most interesting, but yet the most intricate and confusing pieces of life in today’s world. “It is a realm in which we easily imagine ourselves to be omniscient” (Murray 84). With all of the resources, the images, and the different media we put computers into, our lives have changed from it. The computer is like the mind, we put information into, and it feeds back with results. Within Chapter 3 of Murray’s book, Hamlet on The Holodeck, she brings the idea of the computer to life with how she is complex with her words about how the computer brings life into the human race. She states, “Like every human of communication, digital media have been developed to perform tasks that were too difficult to do without them” (Murray 90). The complexity of the computer is what is so interesting; we can put a whole encyclopedia inside of it, and it will find any word, and its definition at a rate of speed that I don’t think anyone understands. Different softwares are also put into computers to complete tasks; these softwares are created by the human, but performed by the computer to create new things, etc. “The computer has developed during this time into a versatile tool for modeling systems that reflect our ideas about the world is organized” (Murray 92). Everything in life nowadays involves a computer such as the Iphone, digital organizers, cameras, etc. Every year there is a milestone for how our technology is working and completed. Murray also brings up another point of how we, humans, have conversations with computers; the computer will actually spit out answers or opinions of what one should do; this is like the Iphone with Siri who answers questions that are asked of her. She replies with her opinion of what one should do, good or bad, but even Siri can get confused on what the person who is asking her the question is saying. Computers have their highs and lows, but all in all, the computer is the master of the human mind. Computers bring life into the human race, and with the rate of how the technology we have in today’s world is going, anything is possible. “Therefore, the next step of understanding what delights or dangers digital narrative will bring to us is to look more closely at its characteristic pleasures, to judge in what ways they are continuous with older narrative traditions and in what ways they offer access to new beauty and new truths about ourselves and the world we move through” (Murray 94).

Hayles Chapter 2

“Anthropologists have long recognized that humans have been biologically, psychologically, and socially shaped by there technologies, at least since Paleolithic times” (Hayles 47). Throughout Chapter 2 of the book, Electronic Literature written by N. Katherine Hayles, she talks about how the computer and the human are very similart, but yet very different. “Humans engineer computers and computers reengineer humans in systems bound together by recursive feedback and feedforward loops, with emergent complexities catalyzed by leaps between different media substrates and levels of complexity”(Hayles 48). We create the computers, but yet the computer resurrects the human race because of the complexity, and how the world is now in such a quandary of technology, that we cannot live without it in our daily lives. Hayles puts many examples, such as mathematical formulas and different softwares that make the computer run; she calls this “dynamic heterarchies and fluid analogies.” She also says within the beginning of the chapter that all works of literature come from the computer first. From digital files on the computer of the author of the book writing on their computer the book that will go into print. “…almost all print books are digital files before they become books”(Hayles 43). For me, I think Hayles is thinking that everything is going to be about computers in the days coming for the future. Everything will be digitial; maybe some books will be there still, but all things come from technology, even many books that are in print came from the computer before it went into a novel or a book. All in all, I am going to leave this with a quote from Hayles of how all literature will become digital in its own time and place, “Contemporary literature, and even more so the literary that extends and enfolds it, is computational”( Hayles 85).


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