Class Reflection!

Overall, my experience in the class was incredibly positive, and of all the four hundred-level classes I could have selected to take, I’m really glad it was this one. The freeform class style was super interesting and felt incredible to be a part of. I have never had a class where I had so much influence over what was discussed, discussed, assigned, and graded. Each assignment had a fun twist, and they felt like work; they were purely fun projects that kept me engaged and interested in what we discussed.

I think of all the incredible assignments my favorite one had to be the misinformation meme assignment. I thought there was a ton of incredibly enjoyable meme, plus we truly broke down what being a meme actually meant. It’s something I had never truly considered before, and it was eye-opening, to say the least. I think I have become so used to developments on the internet that I forget to stop and think about them. This class reminded me of the importance of stopping to analyze the digital world I have become all too accustomed to. Even though the meme assignment was my favorite, I still really enjoyed the others, particularly the Propaganda Campaign and AI generator assignments.

There were a ton of memorable discussions that have stuck with me, but to just list a few:
– Dolphin in the Coffeehouse
– Mildly Dystopian AI world
– What in the world is going on with TikTok?
– The freakout over Martian Invasion
– Wha is Information?

This class was incredible to be in, and I can’t speak that enough. Thanks for a great semester everyone!

AI Speaks: Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc riding atop a horse leading troops towards the siege of Orleans in an Artistic style. (Prompt put into DALL-E 2 to generate this image)

For this AI assignment, I choose to generate an essay and image surrounding a historical figure I have previously studied: Joan of Arc. She is an incredibly well-known female figure within both popular and scholarly history; however, there is no authentic picture or painting of Joan that historians agree is authentic, so I was incredibly interested in seeing how art generators would depict her. For this assignment, I used ChatGPT 4 to create a two-page essay about Joan’s military career and used DALL-E 2 to generate the image depicted above.

One detail within the AI’s creation of art depicting Joan of Arc that I found interesting was that it choose to cover her face in almost every image. Even in this image I selected, her face is blurred and highly simplified. In DALL-E 2, I tried a variety of different prompts before landing on “Joan of Arc riding atop a horse leading troops towards the siege of Orleans in an Artistic style.” Compared to my first prompts, this was highly refined with a lot of additional keywords. I choose to do this because the first images that the AI created using simple prompts like “Joan of Arc” or “Joan of Arc French knight” created what appeared to be stereotypical knights without any details showing anything feminine or “Joan-like.” Overall, I think image generation was an interesting and fun exercise to go through!

Beyond the artistic representation of Joan that was created, I also had another AI compose a short two-page essay about her. I used a total of three different prompts to create the essay, which is embedded below. 1: “Write me a two-page essay about the military career of Joan of Arc,” 2: “Add a paragraph about the coronation of Charles VII at Reims.” 3: “Write one paragraph and include a historically inaccurate claim.” The first of the three prompts I used generated the bulk of the essay, and from what I can tell, it is highly accurate in its claims and assertions. It nailed down the years, ages, events, and general outline of Joan’s military career in a generally accurate manner. It even included a general historical context surrounding the period of history Joan found herself situated. It didn’t offer sources for its writing but it did provide an incredible general outline of Joan of Arc and her military career. With the two other prompts I used, I was hoping to enhance the essay and see if the AI was willing to give me incorrect information. The paragraph concerning Charles VII’s coronation adds an interesting layer of grounding and connecting Joan into the history of French nationalism. The inaccurate paragraph did something really interesting, it reads, “However, some historians argue that Joan was not actually a military genius, but rather a figurehead who was used by the French monarchy to inspire the troops.” This is INCREDIBLE because it doesn’t just present misinformation. Instead, it claims that ‘some historians’ argue against Joan’s importance. Later in the paragraph, it discredits those arguments and again grounds Joan’s importance for French nationalism.

Overall, this project was really interesting to work with and as a future educator, I hope that the process of writing historical papers does not get turned over to machines to make our claims and assertions for us. I think there could be a genre of history that is created by machines who “fact-check” our information; however, there might be subtle ways that prompts can influence and change our understanding of important historical figures or events changing the way we see history for the worse.

ChatGPT 4

Catherine the Great: A Popular History of Misinformation

Meme created on March 21st using!

When I saw this Misinformation assignment, for some strange reason, my mind jumped to the rumors spread about one of the most important Russian rulers: Catherine the Great. Both during her reign and afterward, a multitude of rumors surrounding her character and sexuality were spread to diminish her power and affect public perception of her. One of those rumors–which my meme is centered around–makes a claim that Catherine the Great died during intercourse with a horse. The rumor stands that she had a horse harnessed and lifted into the air so that she could engage in bestiality, and unfortunately for Catherine, the harness broke and the horse crushed her. Fun Fact: She died of a stroke, not by horse crushing.

I created this meme using a stock photo of a horse found online and an online meme-creating website called I did not want to create something that was blatant; instead, I opted for a more subtle joke that a person would have to be in the know to know, yanno! It uses the horse’s perspective to add a comedic layer to the joke and, overall, was really fun to make! I really like creating comedy and attempting my hardest to be funny so this was a really cool assignment to engage with!


Telephone Terror Infographic

This infographic gives information on one early social reaction to the development of the telephone: telephone terror. As the infographic explains, telephone terror was the fear of answering, speaking into, having, or using a telephone. From my initial searches, I found it a tad bit difficult to find information on this subject (apparently, there was a video game character called “Telephone Terror”); however, I did find an article from the Atlantic from 1920 that detailed this fear in a poetic manner. The article is a must-read and is beautifully composed to show the author’s exasperation and contempt for themselves for having telephone terror. I used four different quotes from the original article and modeled my infographic to look generally like a newspaper article. Overall, I thought this assignment was quite interesting, and I’m over the moon that I found a primary source as entertaining and passionate as the “Telephone Terror” article.

“Telephone Terror.” The Atlantic. Accessed 15 February 2023.
The History Channel. “The Machines That Built America: Alexander Graham Bell’s Revolutionary Invention (S1) | History.” YouTube Video. 8:52.

Cave Painting Pictionary

I saw a cool horse. I caught it and rode it to water.

What our little strip said

Overall, I thought this project was a fun and creative process that got the gears in my head turning. While simplistic in nature, I thought our discussion afterward was really enlightening and interesting. Our main task was to draw our phrase and communicate in an effective way, merely using visual communication in our world filled with interconnected means of sharing information. In our group, I did the basic sketching (seen above), taking ideas from Madeline and Darian. On the actual day, we all took turns implementing different aspects of our drawings

Endorsement and Proposal

Of the different assignments that people proposed, I would have to say that helping with the digital site for the alumni and the propaganda campaign are my favorites. I feel that helping with the digital site would be a great project during the fourth section of the class, as it has us working with modern forms of information systems. As for the propaganda campaign, I feel like this could fit into sections three, four, or five, depending on the type of lenses we would look through to create the campaign.

Another assignment that I have been thinking about is the comparison of micro-information exchange systems and much larger information systems. I think this could be done by dividing the class into three major groups that would each produce an infographic. One focused on micro-exchange systems between atoms, bacteria, or cells. Another could analyze human information exchange systems, and the final would analyze much larger information exchange systems like gravity, wind, currents, or other natural phenomena. We could then compare infographics and see if there are fundamental similarities between information exchange systems! This would be content driven and allow for researching into a variety of topics and would probably fit into the fifth section of the class.

What is Information?

“They suggest that the ‘bit’ is the irreducible kernel and that ‘information’ forms the very core of existence.”

Gleick, James. The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2011.
Claude Shannon, One Founder of the Information Age. (Estate of Francis Bello, Quanta Magazine, Date Accessed 14 January 2023.)

In the introductions to The Information by James Gleick and The Cybernetics Moment by Ronald Kline, the authors discuss the emergence of the Information Age and some of the founding theorists in the field of information theory. Gleick’s introduction focuses on the work of Claude Shannon, who helped define what ‘information’ means in the context of science and engineering. The article brought up an interesting comparison between Shannon and Issac Newton that I found rather interesting. Newton had to define what motion to discuss motion scientifically, and so to did Shannon with the term ‘information.’ While less focused on the work of Claude Shannon, Kline’s introduction places similar importance on information theory, noting that it’s just as important as the development of information technologies. My previous notions surrounding what the ‘information age’ was all about were seriously questioned with the introductions. These authors put forth the idea that the development of new technologies is important to understand this era of history; however, understanding what ‘information’ is allows those new technologies to be brought forth from the theoretical to the physical world.

Reading these introductions made me think about potentially creating an assignment that discusses correlations between information exchange systems on a microscopic level, like cellular interactions, and on a universal level, like black holes or gravity fields. I’m not 100% sure about how this project would look, but I do think there could be some similarities between the small and large-scale information systems that could be presented in an interesting way.

My Introduction!

Howdy Ho! I never know how to start an introduction, so I’ll keep it simple. Hi, my name is Garrett, and I’m currently a Junior at the University of Mary Washington. I see many people who flamboyantly represent this school and constantly take pictures of different locations around campus, but that’s not me. Don’t get me wrong. I love this campus. I’m just not going to post about it on social media 6 times a week. I’m a super nerd who spends most of my free time playing or prepping for my next Dungeons and Dragons game, watching silly animation, and just lollygagging the days away.

Honestly, I’m taking this class because it fulfills a few different requirements, including a 400-level history class (I’m a history major), and gives me enough honor credits so that I don’t have to get another warning email about my status as an honor student. I’m still excited about the course, and after the first class, I think my excitement grew a few sizes that day. My partner is a communications major, and the study of this period will help me be a more informed participant when they talk with me about her classes.

After quickly scanning through the past assignments, my heart fell in love with the idea of creating a propaganda machine for the great and mighty King Candy, whose radical ideas would shape the future of Candy Land as we know it. I love, love, love, love studying and creating political/government representatives (it’s part of why I love Dungeons and Dragons). The advice that made me giggle and stuck out to me was to “Reserve your HCC space WAY ahead of time.” I almost always forget to reserve a space but this semester my goal is use the HCC more than I have been.