Analysis of the Meaning of a Textual Artifact

Lab 7

Analysis of the Meaning of a Textual Artifact

In lab notes:

  1. There are three significant physical clues found in historical books:
  • Chain lines can indicate the type of fold based on the direction (vertical or horizontal)
  • Signatures can also hint at the fold (the numbers / letters used)
  • Watermarks can further help clarify the fold based on their location on the paper
  1. The books showed a couple notable changes as later editions were developed:
  • The maps became more intricate, detailed, and correct as time went on. The use of maps in the first place, combined with the consistently small size and tough/thick covers indicated the books use during travel.
  • The growing population indicated by the books allows historians to piece together historical populations. It’s a way of tracing the data.
  1. These books are sampled used by door to door (book) salesmen. These books contain samples of potential bindings / covers to purchase, at different price points of course. On the last page one can see order sheets and the various people purchasing copies of the book (and at which prices). Historians can analyze the various prices people were willing to pay, and what books / topics were popular.

I chose to analyze “Competitive Programming 3” by Steven and Felix Halim. This artifact is significantly more modern than the texts we looked at in lab. Designed to teach prospective programmers “the new lower bound of programming contests”, this books is of medium size with a glossy, paperback cover. The modern nature of the book (2013 print) is cause for its modern paper, font, and cover. The glossy touch to the paperback likely was added to extend the book’s physical life as it would ideally be studied / referenced during a competitive programmer’s career.

I received “Competitive Programming 3” at a summer camp designed to teach high school students competitive programming at the University of Central Florida. For me, and many others, it functioned as a reference books for algorithms and concepts used in the competitions. It is thus designed to be intentionally compact and organized, easily navigable when searching for something specific, but short enough that one wouldn’t get bogged down in the details. Similarly to the geography books we studied in lab, this book is meant as a guide for those undertaking the subject matter it covers. Unlike the geography books, however, “Competitive Programming 3” needs less revisions / updates, as the algorithms it discusses are often proven to be ‘p’ problems, and thus are the optimal choice when they come up in contest.