Saturday, February 6, 2010

Digital Nation - Documentary

Hello class:

I hope you got the chance to view the documentary Dr. Strate recommended. It was particularly interesting to watch how today’s trends are interpreted through the “new media” perspective.

Technology has morphed a distinct environment in which each generation learns to develop a unique character. The social networks that engage the interest of many have now been brought officially into the classroom as a new tool of education. A few years back cell phones and computers were not allowed in the learning process, however, nowadays they are the predominant necessities, putting textbooks back on the shelves.

I particularly found two very interesting ideas as they were described on television: students have learned to write in paragraphs where individual and disconnected thoughts are expressed throughout an essay. The need for transitions is no longer the case. Therefore, the traditional sense of writing a complete essay with beginning, middle, and end has disappeared. Incomplete thoughts dominate students’ papers as they embrace an informal attitude towards writing. This is a direct result of the fast paced environment media promote.

The other significant revelation, which was tied up the assigned reading for the week Windows and Mirrors, was based on the fact that students use computers’ video feature as a “mirror!” The example of female students who want to fix up their makeup was used to explain this situation; they simply turn on the camera and use the medium as a mirror. I am still quite amazed with this statement and I am not sure how to interpret it. Technology is an extension of ourselves, but this was such a direct example that I am still struck by the notion.

Margaret Maria Roidi


  1. ha ha, that was an amusing bit, and brings to mind McLuhan's phrase, Narcissus narcosis!

    The point about writing in paragraphs (and some say we should be grateful if we're even getting that) seems in line with Neil Postman's arguments about incoherence and discontinuity. While proponents have been quick to celebrate the nonlinearity of the new media, and there is something to be said for breaking out of its confines, the loss seems to outweigh the gain in this instance.

  2. The example of Narcissus was the first idea to come in mind when viewing this part of the program! Is this how the story is now modernized? Using computers as mirrors? Are we simply lazy or do we just prefer to surround ourselves with tools which present us as their sole master?

    Postman’s perception of new media is unfortunately validated with students’ inability to express themselves cohesively. It is tough to see people struggle to put a few sentences together when asked to simply write their view on a topic. The sense of argumentative essays (among others) is essentially lost. How can one support his opinion when no efficient evidence can be presented in a logical way?

  3. it's not a matter of support or deliberate, it's just a dismissal, along the lines of that's your opinion, this is mine.