Archive for January, 2013

Technological Determinism is Beside the Point #edcmooc

A number of my fellow students in this course have been taking a similar stance when it comes to Technological Determinism.  As I noted in my previous post about dystopian views of society and technology, such thoughts are fantasies. These fantasies originate from fearful reactions that technology may change our world and ourselves for the worse. These fears stem naturally from our apprehension of the unknown possibilities that new and unfamiliar technology pose.

In Technological or Media Determinism, Daniel Chandler argues that Technological determinism can lead us to develop erroneous conclusions that insist that technology plays the driving role in the development of society and culture.The theme of Technological Determinism’s negative effect can be seen countless times through human history each time a disruptive technology appears on the scene. From Socrate’s lament that writing would ruin human thought and reason to today’s pundits claims that obsessive texting renders youth into socially retarded bumblers, the an establish and usually older group takes up the  argument that a new and attractive technology will have deleterious consequences on the normal function of people and society.In most cases, new technologies are adapted from generation to generation despite the railing of the older folks and the establishment.  Despite the reticence of some to adopt technology, it advances.As educators, we need to objectively determine if any claims that new technology may have a negative effect on our students and how they learn. Though in designing online learning experiences and environments, we need to always aim for helping students achieve mastery of the topics we teach and not be dazzled by the potential of technologies.We need to test these technologies on ourselves and explore learning via these tools and platforms and assess whether or not they will work.

One of the major complaints around online learning is the overwhelming stream of discussion as well as information overload that comes with having seemingly unlimited access to information… not all of which are reputable resources for information. Thus, it’s our responsibilities as educators to help our students, young and old develop the skills and ability to be both discerning consumers of content as well as effective curators of what they find online.

Ia this where we're headed?

Is this good or bad? What do you think? Image found here

Lost in Utopia? Found in Dystopia? #edcmooc

I’m taking the Elearning and Digital Culture Course via Coursera.

We were asked to evaluate the following films and describe if they are depicting a technological dystopia. I’ve decided to respond by giving short descriptions and reactions to the films.

BENDITO MACHINE III:

Dystopia begins with the

Idolatry of Technology

We are charmed by what we perceive to be the magic that technology brings me

Technology has been used to manipulate us…

It tells us what we should buy,

how we should live,

makes use feel paranoid & inadequate,

But in the end what we worship mindlessly

becomes obsolete,

and a new technology takes it’s place.

It begins again.

INBOX:

I feel that this video has both utopian & dystopian messages. Perhaps in watching the story of a man and women who become attracted to each other by way of two paper bags with a magical connection and with the help of pens and post-it notes. The charming interchange between the young couple points out the magic of the Internet and connective technology that we use, yet at the same time it reminds us how simplistic connection can be. Before texting on cellphones we had notes carefully folded in origami to be passed beneath desks or left in strategic places for the recipient to find. In watching stories like “Inbox” we’re also reminded how the Net and cellphone texts can encourage shy and antisocial behavior. Perhaps this can be seen as dystopian if you feel that making physical connection and interacting in the ‘normal’ social manner is threatened by excessive use of texting.

THURSDAY:

The message of this film seemed to be tied into the importance of being connected to the natural and real world. In this film the characters’ lives seem overrun by technology from being constantly connected to instant messaging or depended upon technology that can be disrupted by the simple act of a bird mistaking wires for food or nesting material. I have to laugh because as I heard the sounds of bird tweeting in this film, I remembered that a few weeks ago, I heard a duck quacking somewhere and I reached for my cellphone thinking it was the duck quacking ringtone. Like the couple in the short, technology has replaced some of the natural things in my life. And like them, every now and then I need to attempt to get a bird’s eye view of things to realize how little things like a cellphone and it’s constant connection affect how I see and treat others in my life. I have tantrums if I have no connection. Am I wrong but did that couple get it on after having the earth view inspired epiphany?

FILM 4: NEW MEDIA:

I like Jellyfish but something about this film gave me a creepy feeling. I was reminded of that film District Nine. Obviously this is a dystopian view of technology that plays on the fears that technology will evolve into this alien lifeform that will take over our lives and society.

ABOUT ALL THE FILMS & IDEA of DYSTOPIA & UTOPIA

I feel the same way about dystopic parables as I feel about armageddon stories. They both seem to be coping mechanisms for our fear of change as well as ways to play out the guilt of living in a civilization. Sometimes we ask ourselves in the backs of our minds, like some drunken kid in their twenties just waking to a lucid moment of clarity… we can’t go on living like this forever? How is our civilization held together? Could it simply fall apart or be threatened as in the “Thursday” film by a small animal ready to wreak havoc on a network that we depend upon for daily life. Or maybe our anxiety stems from intuition or hunches that something is inherently wrong in the systems of culture, economics, politics, and codes of behavior that seem to keep us all safe and in line? When has our legislature actually done something in our best interest a s a people anyway? Stories and films about dystopia and the crumbling of civilization allow us to play out the fantasies of ‘just what might happen’ if it all fell apart. Thus, art and literature present us with emetics that can help us both express and extrude our fears and unmanageable thoughts and perhaps make sense of it all (or not).

And utopia, I hate to be a realist, but it’s nice to shoot for and everyone needs pie in the sky goals. But there are examples of Utopia in application. I think of any city I’ve lived in including the one where I am now that had the foresight to develop park spaces for their people. Living in a country where for the most part we don’t have to pay off the DMV just to get our license or grease the hands of the beat cop.

Technology always brings the potential for utopian possibilities but like any tool at can be use for both negative and positive purposes. On one hand Internet technologies can provide us with seemingly limitless ways to learn, gather information, and connect with others. A good example of this is this online course. Who could imagine that over 40,000 people could engage in an online learning course with each other.  On the other hand, this widespread connection can render us too visible. Diving into the pool of social networking many of us forget that when we share our feelings online they’re no longer private. As people make embarrassing YouTube videos or become part of a petty bitching party online they might forget that this can put an indelible mark on one’s character. My original dystopian view of technology painted a world where people become increasingly desensitized to what it means to act like a true asshole or jerk. But gladly, I’ve been continually surprised by how many online communities are quite civil and supportive of each other. Flamers and bullies usually get snuffed out by others, or simply the people who don’t want to put up with this behavior just move somewhere else online.

In other words, utopia is what you make of it. Dystopia can be brought about by acting upon your worst fears.


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