I’m excited about the great discussions emerging here, everyone! Before I post the next prompt, I want to take a moment to highlight some of the more provocative posts to our course discussion blog so far. Many of you chose to contemplate and complicate the question of how the internet and daily computing changes the way we process reality. Here are a few selections that might be food for further thought:
lizzygrl friday cites Mark Buchanan study of “small-world” theory, Michael Wesch’s YouTube video “The Machine is Us/ing Us” and Bill Cheswick’s “map” of the internet in her detailed response. She notes:
We create the Web in every computer added to the worldwide network yet we cannot control the direction in which it will go next. . . .This leads me to wonder if there is an inherent structure of the Web. If it follows patterns, sans designer or master planner, can we predict the future direction of the Web based on past trends and occurrences? Can we use tools such as this map of the Web’s global topology to figure out what the Machine may learn next? If computers are a science, what can we hypothesize about the next phenomenon of the Web? Can we study digital media as a science, like chemistry or biology, even though we are dealing with an ethereal Web? Perhaps the Machine can tell us…
6crookedpillars uses Nicholas Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid” to analyze the impact of “screen reading” on our ability to concentrate:
If all you do is pointlessly surf the web without any meaningful consentration for years on end, I can see how you may begin to experience problems, but many believe (Maria Montessori specifically) that consentration is a developed skill. I don’t believe it can be lost simply by reading on a screen that has flashing lights or the occasional ringing sound. I agree that the internet means to scatter our attention, but I think allowing it to do so is solely in the hands of the induvidual at the keyboard.
RadicalDreamer617 also responds to Carr’s arguments, but focuses more specifically on what’s at work behind all the distractions on-screen. Namely, she considers the broader impact of commercial-driven consumerism:
Upon reading “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”by Nicholas Carr, I find myself in similar situation where after years of using online resources, I tend to have little focus while reading a print material. Carr cited a study conducted by University college London explaining this as a result of “users ‘power browse’ horizontally through titles, content pages and abstracts going for quick wins.” As viewers look through such variety of resources, they would develop a habit of depending solely on the highlights and slowly losing the ability “to make the rich mental connections” they have while reading traditional print. In my opinion, the variety of information offered online is not the only factor that leads to such phenomenon. Advertisements also act as a major distraction with all the flashing pop ups, colorful banners, and tempting offers. Not only they disturb our peripheral vision, but they also drive our attention away from our primary goal in the virtual world. I certainly do see how new media actively improves our life but there is a bigger picture behind it, where the main target of these creations is “consumerism.”
botolo also focuses on how capitalist social structures rather than new media technologies alone have played a large part in changing the way we perceive our world:
Sure, Google functions as an incredibly useful information tool for those who have the internet at their convenience, which is a large amount of people, but the rapid growth in production within our capitalistic economy has also aided in the way our brains have evolved in the last forty years. We have completed revolutionized the way human beings naturally function. We have established job markets, which also establish the infamous 9-5 job, in which human beings awaken at a specific time, eat lunch at a specific time, and pick up the kids or go home, also at a specific time. Humans have adapted to a symbolic time frame which has altered the way we treat our bodies and in turn our brains.
giottodi7 admits that she may have acquired some new online and screen reading habits, but overall she does not experience reading traditional print texts as difficult as some of Carr’s descriptions:
As the internet becomes a “universal medium” many find less and less of a use for reading actual printed text, which provides simple, distraction free reading. With all this online reading going on studies, like one carried out by the University College London, found that “people using the sites exhibited ‘a form of skimming activity,’ hopping from one source to another and rarely returning to any source they’d already visited.” It is also mentioned that this change may have a great effect on the future of how we interpret readings since the act of reading “is not an instinctive skill for human beings.” While I do agree with what Carr states in this article, I also believe it depends on the individual. I, too, seem to have acquired said erratic skimming activity and find it very difficult to focus on a long body of text anymore while in the presence of technology, such as my laptop or television. Yet when I pull myself away for awhile I am able to deeply read large novels in a short period of time.
Finally, AnandPolgar9 considers our “technologically amorous society” (great term!) and the evolution of new media forms through the ideas of Bolter and McLuhan:
In the reading “Remediation”, it is deduced that remediation is the way in which a medium is used to improve another medium or representation, by fostering higher levels of immediacy and hypermediacy within the audience. As our society begins to focus more on technology, we move away from the forms of media that were once prominent, as the American society as a whole no longer responds to these forms the way they did when they first premiered. The increase in technology has introduced experiences that have more immediacy and the older forms now lack the necessary transparency that keeps an audience interested. Consequently, these mediums are being improved upon by newer forms such as the internet and the movies. Marshal McLuhan states in his article “The Galaxy Reconfigured” that “Art reversed its role from guide for perception into convenient amenity or package. But the producer of artist was compelled, as never before, to study the effect of his art”. Therefore, if it is true that art is created for the way it will be perceived by the audience, art forms that no longer produce the desired effect of immediacy or transparency or a hypermediated experience are in danger of being phased out in favor of forms that are preferred by a technologically amorous society.
See what provocative ideas are already bouncing around in our class? If you haven’t yet, be sure to read through the “Comments” section and take a look at all of your classmate’s responses. I see great thoughts evolving here. I hope everyone finds ways to enter into further conversation in their upcoming blog posts and papers.