Reading Blog Entry 7 – “The People’s Net” (9/29/2015)

In this article, author Douglas Rushkoff narrates the ideas that became integral pieces of the identity of the Internet early on, and how business has (mostly) failed at taking control of the Internet for itself. Rushkoff begins by noting that what drew people to the Internet most effectively in its early days was not simply an access to published information and scientific research, but was centered around the connections that users were able to make with people across the globe.  Soon after the government turned the Internet over to the public, new internet-based communities, social groups, and discussion threads sprung up extraordinarily quickly. Rushkoff then describes the ways in which businesses and money-schemes wormed their way into the fabric of the internet; advertisements, e-shopping, and large corporations all attempted to take control of the Internet and use it to make a profit.  And while ads, e-shopping, large corporations, and other money-schemes are present on the internet in a large way, Rushkoff notes that the vast majority of internet traffic still revolves around open-source projects, internet communities, and the connections that the Internet has allowed us to make to our fellow human beings.

URLs:

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/does_technology_cut_us_off_from_other_people

– an article discussing the pros and cons of increased social connection potential.

– a picture depicting how different social medias keep the world connected

Discussion Q’s:

– Is there a difference in the quality of social connections when we use digital means vs. non-digital?

– Why is it that in a world of connectivity, we seem to be much less open to new perspectives and ideas?

Writing Blog Entry 7 – “Identity Crisis” and “They Call Me Cyberboy” (9/27/2015)

In the article “Identity Crisis”, author Sherry Turkle outlines how in recent years our understanding of our identities have gone from viewing them as concrete and unchanging to fluid and adaptable.  Before digital media, Turkle mentions that there wasn’t much opportunity to change your identity – everyone who was in contact with you generally knew your face, where you lived, and what you were like in person.  However, with the rise of digital technology and the pseudo-anonymity it allows, Turkle says that our understanding of identity has adjusted to reflect the flexibility and the adaptability of web pages, electronic graphics, and the increased rate at which the world changes.

In the article “They Call Me Cyberboy”, author Douglas Rushkoff describes what it felt like to be part of the group that pioneered the internet initially.  His description was that of someone who didn’t just use the internet, but believed it to be the technology that revolutionized the way that humans would interact with the world and those in it.  He saw a new community, formed of those that society rejected at the time, and held great expectations for what they would turn the internet into.  He also laments at how the internet has turned out to be less than it was supposed to be, that it has simply become a place of business for earthly things when it was meant to transcend earth.

URLs:

– A picture depicting how people can change their appearance/identity online.

http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/guest-post-who-are-you-online-considering-issues-of-web-identity/?_r=0

– An article talking about who we act like on the web

Discussion Q’s:

– Is the internet a place for business?  Is it a place for human interaction?  Is it a place that transcends the non-digital aspects of our lives?

– How as Christians should we view the internet?

Reading Entry Blog 6 – “Your Brain is Evolving Right Now”

In this article, authors Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan go into detail about how the new digital age is causing our brains to evolve in new and speedy ways.  They go deep into the science of the brain, explaining how the billions upon billions of connections in the brain are undergoing constant change, with new connections being formed and old, unused connections dying off every day.  This understanding of the way the brain functions is known as plasticity, and the onset of digital technology in recent generations has sped up this process immensely, taking evolution and causing it to advance in decades instead of millennium.  It’s not all happy-go-lucky in the minds of Small and Vorgan though; digital technology has been altering our brains to think in a way they call continuous partial attention, in which people are described to be continually busy with identifying and processing new information, often handling several sources of information at once.  This way of thinking has been found to have a negative effect on long-term memory, brain function, and mood, which is one thing that concerns scientists about this type of brain function.

URLs:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/healine-here/2015/02/13/a78172e0-855e-11e4-9534-f79a23c40e6c_story.html

– Washington Post explains how digital technology is ruining our minds.

http://lindastone.net/qa/continuous-partial-attention/

– an article about continuous partial attention

– a picture depicting how our attention is constantly drawn multiple ways in this day and age

Discussion Q’s:

– Is our ability to read social cues being stunted with the increase of non-face-to-face technology?

– What could be some benefits of retaining non-digitally transformed brains?

In the article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, author Nicholas Carr examines this idea that digital media is the next thing that’s physically altering our minds, and shares his experience with going through that process.  Being a digital immigrant, Carr notes how his psyche has noticeably changed since the dawn of digital technology, particularly in how short his attention span has become.  Carr and other peers of his remember a capability of ‘deep thought’, which he considers to be where the most important thinking happens, which has become much harder due to their inability to concentrate for long periods of time.  But why is digital media to blame?  Carr thinks that the culture of numerous pop-ups, short articles, and hyperlinking relative pages to each other in massive chains (in short, multiple sources of distractions) is to blame.  Ironically enough, this culture of distractions is exactly what companies like Google have learned to thrive on.  For every click, for every hyperlink that’s followed, every ad that is responded to, Google and other data companies receive and compile into huge databases that they use to try and create the quickest, most responsive, most intelligent system they can.  However, Carr and others like him worry that analyzing people in such a way might end up stripping them of their humanity in the minds of the analyzers; after all, the only thing they know of them is what’s on the web.

Links:

http://www.google.com/about/

– Google’s mission statement, which includes a hyperlink to 10 beliefs of the company

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tarunwadhwa/2014/01/30/how-advertisers-can-use-your-personal-information-to-get-you-to-pay-higher-prices-than-everyone-else/

– An article describing how personal information gathered by companies over the internet can be used against them

– Caricature negatively portraying how social media such as Facebook gives personal info to advertisers.

Discussion Q’s:

– Are you okay with a company such as Google having access to your personal information over the internet?

– What are some ways that we can ensure that our personal information is not used against us?

Writing Blog Entry 4 – “Do they really THINK differently?” (Marc Prensky)

In chapter 2 of Digital Divide, Marc Prensky dives deeper into why Digital Natives think differently than Digital Natives.  First, Prensky states that contrary to the belief that human minds are essentially built the same way, scientists have recently discovered that the human brain (as well as the brains of other creatures) do change their structure and how they function based on outside influences.  He then goes on to point out the outside influences Digital Natives are used to that differ from those Digital Immigrants grew up with, influences that Prensky thinks caused Digital Natives to excel at parallel thinking (aka doing multiple things seemingly at once), inductive discovery (aka making observations and understanding what they’re looking at through forming hypothesis), and quicker reflexes and responses to new stimuli.  This new, “random access” style of thinking isn’t present in schooling today; much of the education system is still linear and not interactive, which doesn’t appeal to Digital Natives.  In response to this new ‘way of thinking’ in Digital Natives, Prensky once again calls the teachers of today to adapt their teaching styles to suit the students, instead of forcing students to learn through older, conventional means that simply aren’t working.

URLs:

http://www.b2bmarketinginsider.com/content-marketing/thanks-social-media-average-attention-span-now-shorter-goldfish

– An article explaining why the average human attention span is now 1 second shorter than a goldfish’s.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/01/15/neuroplasticity-brain-health.aspx

– An article that goes deeper into neuroplasticity (the malleability of the brain)

– Young students using digital technology in the classroom

Discussion Q’s:

1) What are some ways that interactivity can be used in and out of classrooms as a teaching mechanism?

2) Are digital natives instinctively better at teaching other digital natives than digital immigrants are?

Writing Blog Post 3 – “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants”, The Digital Divide (Marc Prensky)

In the essay “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants”, writer Marc Prensky describes the generational-gap in digital exposure and explains why Millennials and beyond (includes people 34 and under) have a hard time learning in the current school system.  Prensky classifies Millennials as “digital natives”, meaning that there was a significant digital presence in their lives throughout the formative years of their youth.  This digital presence has not only made Millennials more accustomed to interacting (or shall I say ‘interfacing’) with digital devices and digital media, but Prensky says that it has changed the way that Millennials learn from the ways that the previous generation learns.  This previous generation, those who did not grow up with a digital presence in their lives, rather adopted them into their adult practices when they came out (Prensky labels them “digital immigrants”), have a slower, less immersive, and a more step-by-step way of learning, whereas digital natives are good at quicker, less dense, and more sporadic methods of learning, since that is part of the nature of digital media today.  He sees this difference in learning as a serious concern, since most classes are taught by digital immigrants, and his preferred solution to this digital divide is to encourage those teaching digital natives to think creatively and adopt ways of teaching that resonates more with the Millennials.

Links:

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/229241/millennials-most-digitally-connected-generation.html

– An article with statistics detailing how ‘plugged in’ Millennials are.

– a GIF depicting an older woman trying to figure out digital technology.

http://digiday.com/brands/millennial-media-consumption-habits-debunked-5-charts

– Charts on Millenials opinions of digital media

Discussion Q’s:

  • Why is it so difficult for digital immigrants to devise ways to teach that digital natives resonate with?
  • Given the speed at which technology has advanced in the past couple generations, is it likely that the generation after the Millennials will adopt a new, different way of learning?

Writing Blogs Post 2 – Gross pgs. 26-54 (The Internet, Portable Devices, and Video Games)

In this chapter, Gross outlines in detail the history of the internet, portable media devices (such as cell phones, pods, etc.), and video games.  Gross begins with the internet, describing the origins of the internet as a way for select universities and the government to share data among different computers.  From it’s infancy to the modern day, the internet has been expanded upon and shaped by a wide number of innovative people, including the general public, with no one group being the rightful creator of everything the internet has become.  Portable devices, on the other hand, have largely been created and controlled by companies, not so much the general public.  This in no way limits their impact; the creation of cell phones, pods (mobile music/media players), and PDAs revolutionized the way the public consumed media and the amount available to the public, by allowing people to take the media with them throughout the day.  Video games, a more recent form of media, struggled after an initial surge of interest, but have grown to become a powerful and adaptable form of media, one that Gross says is more profitable than the movie industry.

Links:

  • A book detailing the corporate intrigue and happenings that caused Sega to lose it’s title as a major gaming company

  • Vinton Cerf, the creator of ICP/TP and often called the “father of the internet”

  • What some of the first computers looked like.  Early computers often took up an entire room.

Discussion Q’s:

  • What drove people to pursue computing as a tool to exchange information?
  • How has the rise of digital communication and media exposure in America changed how we as people interact with one another?

– Written by Adam Fischer