Monday, February 27, 2012

Digital Media: A curse or revolutionary?

The development of new media has progressed rapidly, and while some find it's advancements to be astonishing and life changing other's view it as detrimental and problematic. I'm curious how you view advanced in technology, more specifically what the internet has done to our public and private selves.

Douglas Rushkoff (2003) described developments as renaissance, and acknowledged the shifts in our capacity to understand and in our perspectives. I agree with this idea, and I believe that these shifts are altering our conception of how the world functions.

Education is a large part of my life, and I see this influence when we look at the education system. People would rather believe this idea of digital mythology that Steve Woolgar (2002) presents. People fixate themselves with false information and these tales that come from the internet. Social media especially become a main influence on our work, home lives, social lives, and interactions we have with others. There is a shift in what we once understand as normative. Digital media enables us to talk, but does it help advance us? I feel educationally it has the ability to offer us things, but also it can be problematic. Students are becoming more reliant on their laptops and feel the need to be on them in class, not always to look at powerpoint lectures, but to be on facebook. They are no longer present.

This video sums up my views.


  1. Alexis--

    I think you pose an interesting question about the outcomes/effects of digital media. In tracing the progression of communications, from print to radio to tv to television, perhaps none of these mediums have caught on quite like the social age in which we live now. The common thread, it seems, is this insatiable thirst for more knowledge, more connectivity, more information.

    The bottom line, these days, is conversation, more specifically, "engaging" conversation. Success and popularity are even defined in this manner--tracking the number of tweets about Angelina's leg at the Oscars or evaluating a brand's friend/follower count are numbers and standards we are constantly being inundated with.

    Ultimately, I think the high point of the digital age is its openness and flexibility. The Internet is widely available in homes across the world--moreso than TVs and Radios were at their advent--allowing people to feel like they are part of a group and in the know. True, the validity of some online reporting sources is always in question--but I think digital media offers the greatest strides toward the democracy of communication the world has long sought.

    Does it make us a different set of people than our parents and grandparents? Absolutely. I've distracted myself with 3-4 websites just in typing this response. But hey, isn't multitasking a valued trait? :)

  2. Alex,

    Digital media enables us to talk, but does it help advance us? I'll go with this question. I occur with the sentiments of Megan's thoughts above. But, as you suggested with your question, does this "openness and flexibility" actually advance us?

    There's some haze in the "inch deep mile wide" perception of breadth and depth when the shallow is the deepest element of the pool.

    I'll use an example, however marginal or irrelevant it might seem, from the Reformation. One of the "best" and "worst" elements of the Protestant Reformation was that it brought the Scriptures 'to the people.'

    Why? One would likely think that bringing out from the confines of the privacy of the papacy that it would be good, and that is true. But, it also brought it out to the interpretation and adaptation of those who were unrefined in their interpretive perspectives and to manipulation.

    In a similar light, I imagine that digital media has brought both the "best" and "worst" of our democratic potential to the foreground. The challenge for me is distinguishing between what the 'best' practices for education are in relation to the democratic project.

  3. Alexis,

    I can certainly understand where you're coming from. Today, in an incredibly boring class, I wrote part of a paper for another class. Should I have been paying attention? Maybe. But we were watching YouTube video lectures and I decided my time was better spent on another assignment. I'm guilty of using technology as a distraction.

    However, I think that more often than not, the positive aspects of this new technology far outweighs the negatives. For example, we've become much more efficient. Email has allowed us to communicate with others who don't live in the same state. Without this technology, we would need to spend time and money to travel for a meeting.

    A Texas school district recently bought all 6800 of their students iPads to use for learning. While this could cause a distraction, it also further levels the playing field for students that may not have the same resources available to them. (article was posting in the LJS online this Monday, however, my computer isn't letting me link it right now.)