Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Another main point that I made was that, since there are so many different formats and types of information available on the web available at mere clicks from one another, users can often overlook the source that information comes from or even what kind of information it is (scholarly journals, blog posts, etc.), making more scholarly and educational materials seem commonplace, and therefore become a natural part of an internet user's life instead of something they just look up for a school project. They may start reading such things for fun, given they focus on a topic that interests the user, and, in this way, the internet may function, at times, to integrate people into the intellectual community even though they are just surfing the web and reading for pleasure. Does this seem to be a plausible conclusion? What do you think about it? Has this happened to you?
My question for you is: what type of online media do you use the most - if at all and what are your thoughts?
First of all, he states that it's overrated. At the time, the computer probably was, but that was because it couldn't do much. Now, it's very underrated because it can do more than we ever imagined! I would love to hear his opinion about technology today. He'd probably have a heart attack, haha.
He goes on to say that people have given it their "mindless attention; which means they will use it as they are told, without a whimper." People aren't told to use computers anymore. They choose to. Throughout my college career, I had the choice to use pen and paper to take notes and/or to use my computer. I'm kind of oldschool, so I chose paper for the first few years, but then I realized how much quicker I can type than write, so I eventually switched. I read an article from another post on this site earlier today that was the thoughts of a guy who had walked away from the internet and his computer for a year. He enjoyed it at first, but discovered that it's not that we get bored easily. It's that we have started using computers to combat boredom or to kill time. In other words, we choose to spend our lives on them.
Postman ends his quote by saying computers have "created at least as many problems...as they may have solved." This is interesting to note because we have created many solutions to many problems over the years. Technology has made people closer, has improved the quality of life through life-saving surgeries and such, and has answered many questions that would otherwise never be answered by a single person/group of people. On the other hand, we have made things more complicated for ourselves in some cases. We have changed the way our brain thinks, for example. We think in short snippets most of the time, as opposed to the past when we could sit for hours and listen to Lincoln and Douglass debate (to use Postman's example).
As I stated above, and as others have mentioned, it would be extremely interesting to hear Postman's point of view on today's obsession with media, internet, and technology in general.
When Postman talked about the telegraph he said that it made people care about all the things that were happening across national and international borders, rather than what was taking place in their neighborhood alone. From the reading it seemed like his opinion was if this news had no impact on your life that it really wasn't necessary for you to be knowledgable about it.
I was thinking about some examples, and I think that in relation to the internet, obviously there are connections there. We see news from all across the world by a simple click of our mouse. But is it relevant to us?
I follow a few bands on Twitter from the UK and I noticed that even though they were far from Boston, during the tragedy that took place they were sending messages to people here. One of the band members is an avid runner, so I see the connection there, but do you think this only affected them because they have relation to the topic? Or does the connecting power of the internet create more empathy between individuals despite distance?
Last week, UNICEF posted a video on their YouTube channel that addresses one of the themes that has come up during our blog discussion: slacktivism.
As others have discussed, the Internet fosters a culture that addresses problems through minimal effort. This phenomenon includes:
...signing Internet petitions, joining a community organization without contributing to the organization's efforts, copying and pasting of social network statuses or messages or altering one's personal data or avatar on social network services. (Wikipedia)
The UNICEF video is designed to address slacktivism through a short, emotionally-loaded narrative from 10-year-old Rahim in a nameless third-world country. Their message is, "Likes don't save lives. Money does." In other words, if you care enough about an issue to like it on Facebook, you should at least donate money to it.
Ironically, this video will be liked, upvoted, and shared through social media. It does nothing but raise awareness and spread a message. Is this video a hypocritical form of slacktivism? Instead of spending their money on producing videos, should they focus their efforts solely on helping children?
I don't think so.
It's extremely important to raise awareness about issues. Even doing the bare minimum by spreading the word helps raise awareness by a little bit. Even if a person doesn't physically contribute, they may spark the interest of someone who will donate their money and time.
Let's face it: we're all occupied with our own lives. Many of us simply don't have time to go out and solve our world's problems. If that makes you feel guilty, then find a cause to donate time and/or money to. There are plenty of people who have devoted their lives to causes we're interested in. It's their job—help them do it. Yes, you'll still be on your butt in front of a computer screen, but you're still doing something.
Ultimately, the problem lies in public's perception of contribution and a general lack of critical thinking. This results in many users believing in a Facebook fairy who donates money based on how many likes a post has.
I think the first step in solving such a problem lies in education (*cough* Postman *cough*). There are far too many digitally illiterate users who spend hours on Facebook everyday. Fixing the problem is a different story—one that I'm not equipped to answer at this point in time.
So what do you think about slacktivism? Do you think it's all bad? Are there good forms of slacktivism? How does it affect public discourse online?
In the article Paul Miller discusses his experience after "taking a year off" from the internet. For a whole year, he went completely without internet of any kind, sticking to snail mail, regular phones, etc. Surprisingly, what he found was that it didn't change him the way he thought it would.
He thought that going without the internet would benefit him, giving him time and freedom that he never had before. While this was the case at first, it didn't last. Soon, he was as lazy without the internet as he was with it.
This reinforced what I've felt like was a central issue in this course: do we use the media, or does the media use us? In many ways, I agree with a lot of the discussion we've had on the idea that, as Marshall McLuhan said, "All media work us over completely." In many ways I think we are controlled by the media that we use.
However, I think this article presents an interesting case for the idea that media is also a tool, and that ultimately it's up to us how it gets used--positively or negatively.
The article doesn't take long to read, so I suggest others check it out. I'm curious to know what everyone thinks of it.
What is the Internet? OR Post Your Answer to Dr. Donnelly's Final Exam Question so I Can Steal It and Use It for Myself.
“What is the internet? What kinds of conversations does it permit? What are the intellectual tendencies it encourages? What sort of culture does it produce?”
The Correct Answer:
With all of the communication permitted (or perhaps necessitated) on the internet, however, it is also has its limits. The internet does not permit face-to-face interaction, no matter how near it may be to replicating it with tools like Skype and Facetime. For this reason, the communication that takes place on the internet is oftentimes relatively impersonal, which in my experience, sometimes gives its users an almost false, and perhaps dangerous, sense of security. All too often I see people, on my Facebook feed for example, viciously arguing and attacking each other over any given issue. I cannot help but ask myself, would they be arguing in the same fashion in face-to-face interaction? My guess is usually no, they wouldn’t. This is because the internet can serve to detach its users from each other. When we cannot see the other person we’re communicating with, we cannot directly see the consequences of what we say. Indeed, the long held notion that most communication is conducted non-verbally may hold a great deal of truth, and removing it from the equation could be harmful. The internet’s detachment may embolden some users to such an extent that they could say something truly harmful to somebody else, and they may not necessarily even know it. Furthermore, there are unknown implications in how internet communication translates into face-to-face communication. Can the sometimes vicious nature users take on the internet carry over into face-to-face communication?
Seriously though, I'm interested in how others decided to approach this--what did you come up with?
Friday, April 26, 2013
"Until, years from now, when it will be noticed that the massive collection and speed-of-light retrieval of data have been of great value to large scale organizations but have solved very little of importance to most people and have created at least as many problems for them as they may have solved." (pg. 161)
I found it amazing, when giving this quote a second read through, that Postman would really think that the computer and internet would be of little or no real use to the individual. It seems to me that, though the "speed-of-light retrieval" provides us with much information we do not need, causing "irrelevance," "impotence," and "incoherence," it also provides us with a multitude of information that we use to improve ourselves as people. While learning about what is going on in Africa may not provide directly useful information that pertains to our daily lives, it gives us a scope through which to view the world, and not only our little corner of it. Postman argues that having access to such information makes us feel obligated to engage in it, keep ourselves always updated, etc., and therefore causes us to become obsessed with meaningless information. I think this may be true for some, but not for all, and should not be for any. Succumbing to this obligation is the fault of the individual.
Also, I don't think it would be wise to overlook the impact that the internet has made on our schooling. The amount of access we have to information: journals, news articles, professional papers, makes our education infinitely more rounded, and our papers more in depth.
I believe that any one person who is not deriving knowledge and furthering himself through his access to the internet own the fault for that failure. The internet provides us with junk, and it provides us with gold. It is our choice which to mine.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
I just wanted to get your thoughts and opinions on this situation. Do you think that Justin Bieber went too far with that statement and was acting too self absorbed?
Here's a link to an article covering the scandal and some tweets from people and their opinions over the subject.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BF2pKDFcmk )
In 2001 Portugal became the forerunner for what seemed like an insane policy. Portugal was to decriminalize all drugs. People then could carry 25 grams of marijuana, 1 gram of herion, 2 grams of cocaine without penalty. You could also openly use and distribute. That was 12 years ago. Use has now dropped through the roof. I like to call this the "Rebel" aspect. Their country is doing great right now and this program is working.
( http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/evaluating-drug-decriminalization-in-portugal-12-years-later-a-891060.html )
Another major issue here is that most of these people have ignored is some of the contracts the states our signing with corporations that control prisons. Most of these corporations won't even touch a state prison unless they are guaranteed that there will be roughly about 1,000 beds per block and the prison will have to have the ability to hold a 90% occupation rate. This basically makes a business out of creating criminals. Most of these facilities that were supposed to create better places for women wont even take women because of their high healthcare costs. If many of these private prisons took in women they would loose money. The idea of privatized prisons were a great idea in the short term but in the long run the eventually start swallowing up the profits.
( http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-03-01/buying-prisons-require-high-occupancy/53402894/1 )
Let me know what you guys think...
-Johnny Lee Fields
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013
The central conflict of the article is that "Many parents agree that an extended period of travel, with its exposure to myriad new cultures, playmates, experiences and languages, can provide a valuable learning tool for children of all ages. However, many also fear that removing them from a conventional educational setting might cause them to suffer academically or from the loss of structure that school provides."
The article then presents various options that parents pursue in light of this. They include (I'll provide excerpts from each section):
Homeschooling - "A term most often used to describe parents teaching children at their kitchen table, many travelling parents these days opt to “homeschool” in the trains, planes and hotel rooms along their journey. Some create their own content from a combination of workbooks and online content."
Online options - "Education pioneer Salman Khan’s acclaimed online Khan Academy, for instance, offers more than 4,000 instruction videos and practice exercises, ranging from simple addition to cosmology and microeconomics. Free of charge and accessible anywhere with an internet connection, Khan believes the strength in his lessons – which have easy-to-keep-track-of progress reports – lies in allowing students to learn at their own pace, rather than the “one size fits all” approach sometimes found in a conventional classroom."
Unschooling - “What children need,” said educator John Holt in 1969, “is not a new and better curriculum but access to more of the real world." Coined by Holt in the 1970s, “unschooling” puts less emphasis on traditional classroom curricula, and instead encourages children to learn in a self-directed manner, following their own curiosity as they navigate the world around them."
Semesters overseas - "For families planning to remain in one location for several months, spending a semester overseas can afford children a unique chance to truly get beneath the surface of their chosen destination. Many traditional schools are able to accept students for a minimum of one semester; it is vital to contact schools well in advance to discuss educational options and fee structures."
Travelling Schools - " ...Think Global School, an International Baccalaureate World School that spends each semester in a different country, with locations ranging from Boston and Bhutan to Beijing and Chiang Mai. Here teenagers spend months without their parents, becoming instead part of an extended “family” of roughly 60 students from more than 20 countries around the world. "
This is an interesting article from a perspective I haven't really heard much about before. What are your thoughts? Would travelling around be a beneficial environment for kids to learn in? Would you have been up for any of these? Does Education discourse need some more unique ideas like these (or not like these - depending on your opinion)?
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
|Credit to Reddit user bobbonew for taking a picture of his/her TV|
We've seen the news broadcasts, read the articles, probably even spent a little too much time reading other peoples opinions on Facebook. We know by now that bombs went off in Boston, somebody did it, and somebody is going to pay for it, but until then, we need to watch our backs. Why? Because someone is trying to hurt us. There are people out there who hate that we are America and they aren't, and they want to kill us. We're not telling you to panic, but you shouldn't be not panicing. I found this picture on Reddit.com under the title "and the fear mongering begins." The comment chain associated with the picture was full of anti-media rants by Reddit's seemingly intellectual and persistently left leaning userbase. It reminded me of all those times the television told me that I should be extra careful because today is orange, even though yesterday was yellow. I didn't know why our national security was judged on a rainbow chart that could have hung in any daycare center, but I was sure glad I was able to watch the news so they could tell me how scared I should be.
The point I'm trying to make here is that what happened in Boston was an act of terror, meant to terrorize, to cause us as a nation to halt our daily proceedings so we can stop and be scared. So why does the media say things like "How safe are we?" or "How safe are your kids" or "How safe is your car?" I understand those last two weren't acts of terrorism, but they are shining examples of our media trying to scare us, and it's not to protect us, it's for ratings, for sweeps, for paychecks.
This ABC News affiliate isn't helping our country through this trying time by completing the work for whatever psycho tried to blow up downtown Boston. It doesn't matter if it was a Saudi national or some crazy eyed white guy who thinks he got screwed on his taxes. Things like this happen all the time, and no amount of news report watching or nail biting is going to make us any safer. We just don't need to be afraid.
Anyone else have any thoughts on the media scare tactics and fear mongering?
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
We've all examined Postman's work, learned about his positions regarding media and its effects on our society, and why we should all be afraid.
Here's what I want to know:
If you agree with Postman's warnings about mass media consumption, what are you going to do to help stop the problem? (everything must be entertaining, information overload, relevance vs. irrelevance, etc.)
Do you have an obligation to do anything?
Do you feel like you could even make a change if you tried?
In what ways have Postman's teaching influenced the way that you look at the world? Will you ever see anything the way you did before?
Lemme know in the comments b'lo!
I'm sure by now many of you (if not all) have heard about the Boston Bombing. As our class focuses on public discourse, media and rhetoric I am curious to see how all of you heard about this disaster. I personally heard about it through one of my friends who saw it on twitter....
The link I provided above is a type of backwards countdown through time updates beginning at 9pm and digressing to 2pm. I suggest reading through them and watching this video.
Monday, April 15, 2013
To demonstrate this manipulation of the emotions by technique, I'll present an example from a clip of Robert Wise's 1947 noir film Born to Kill. The part I will be referring to is specifically from about 4:00-4:40 in the video below.
The video shows all of this, but in case you didn't watch it all, the part from 4:00-4:40 takes place directly after a man and woman are murdered by the woman's boyfriend of sorts for "stepping out" on him with said man. The woman seen peeking in through the doorway is an acquaintance of the murdered woman, simply trying to return her dog to the house. When she peers inside, she is met with the sight of a man's hand connected to an unseen body, and a woman's legs, the rest of her figure laying in shadow, also unseen. They are obviously dead. Page 109 of Wes D. Gehring's book, Robert Wise: Shadowlands, references this technique, saying, "In cinematically reducing the victims to mere body parts, Wise has metaphorically permeated the sequence with the torment of a horror-film dismemberment, without the gratuitous violence of the Saw series." This sentiment has stuck with me over the past few days. It is really true that, by showing the audience only the hand and the pair of legs, Wise makes them seem less of people and more of objects, like the dismembered limbs of numerous modern day hack-em-up horror films. This view of them will give any viewer an eerie, gruesome, even macabre feeling to accompany the scene, something that could not be done if the camera were to simply reveal two dead bodies laying on the floor.
The whole concept reminded me of the "Independent Media in a Time of War"video that we watched in class back in February, and its mention of how the media refuses to show us the more gruesome images of war, the twisted, burned bodies, the serious injuries, especially when they're children. Based on how I've demonstrated that the effects in this scene of Born to Kill make the outcome more macabre, just as gruesome photos of war already are, and incite emotions in the viewer, it becomes clear that the media is trying to avoid inciting similar emotions in its audience. It seems a simple point to make after so much speculation, but does everyone completely agree with it? Any objections? What are your thoughts?
On CBS, the announcer was letting the viewer know that people in the area were not allowed to make phone calls from cell phones because "perhaps cellular phone calls could trigger a latent bomb." This is an odd request to make of people, and I doubt it'll hold up long because people will be calling family and friends to be sure they are okay. I believe this is just a result of people scaring easily, but that's just my opinion.
Speaking of scaring easy, the way they are replaying and replaying the exact same videos, and will be for the rest of the day, is not good for people. I agree with my roommate: It's unhealthy to stare at the same thing all day long. Especially with headlines like "Patients with limbs blown off" sitting along the bottom of the screen. Thanks, Fox News. :/ At least CBS had the decency to say something like "people with amputated limbs." Fox is making it sound like a video game.
If you notice anything about how they report this, post it here. I sure hope those people are okay....
(I don't mean for this post to sound cold-hearted or apathetic, I just found myself watching this differently than I usually would).
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Postman has made very clear that television is full of negative side effects. However, have you thought about television having a positive correlation with ADHD? The article from the website ADDitude- Living Well with Attention Deficit strongly believes in this correlation. The article says, " The more television a child watches between the ages of 1 and 3, the greater his or her likelihood of developing attention problems by age 7." Maybe Postman was on to something when he said that our attention span are shorter due to television. The article also says, "The rapidly moving images on TV and in video games may rewire the brains of very young children, making it difficult for them to focus on slower tasks that require more thought." This sounds vaguely familiar to Postman's argument about commercials in his "Now.. This" chapter.
What do you guys think? Is there really a correlation between TV and ADHD?
Friday, April 5, 2013
In this white board video (by the same group that produced the education video we watched in class) philosopher Slavoj Zizek discusses cultural consumerism and how companies like Starbucks and TOMS use public discourse to convince customers that consumerism can help the environment and other causes. I know it's a long video, but I really suggest watching it, it's quite fascinating.
So what do you think? Do you agree with Zizek's view of "cultural consumerism," or are Starbuck's and TOMS really helping the world?
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
"The problem, in any case, does not reside in what people watch. The problem is in that we watch. The solution must be found in how we watch. For I believe it may fairly be said that we have yet to learn what television is...We have apparently advanced to the point where we have grasped the idea that a change in the forms, volume, speed and context of information means something, but we have not got any further." (bolding is mine)This quote resonated with me, because it, in a way, surprised me that Postman could think this, yet still have such an emphatically negative outlook on television throughout his book. I think that television, like any new media, must go through a phase in which people try to figure out how to best use it.
When Postman wrote Amusing Ourselves To Death in 1985, regular commercial network television was approximately thirty-seven years old (since it began in the US in 1948). Twenty-eight more years have gone by since then, and in nine more years it will be twice as old as it was in '85.
Haven't we grown in twenty-eight years? Aren't we moving to another range of programming?
I guess what I'm trying to say, very inarticulately, is that Postman is writing and thinking about a form of media that wasn't even a century old yet, and wouldn't be for awhile. Of course there were lots of bad programming in 1985, we were still figuring out how to use the television. I like to think that we have gone from our toddler years in 1985 when Postmen wrote his book, to our preteens in 2013, and now are preparing to buckle down for adolescence.
So here's my question for you, classmates, are we getting better? Was television too young to be analyzed by Postman, is his argument out of context? Where do you think television is going to go from here?
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Saturday, March 30, 2013
I was wondering if YOU remember learning anything while watching those early childhood shows.
Are there any songs or scenes you remember that contributed to your "knowledge"?
Were there any early childhood shows that you remember that your parents didn't want you to watch? Why?
Feel free to talk about your favorite early TV show and discuss if you think it was educational or not.
Friday, March 29, 2013
If I asked you if you wanted to have either $10 or $100, what would you say?
My good friend Time Warner told me that you would rather have $10 because you don't need any more than that, is that right?
Well that's strange, I wonder why they would say that. By the way, can I have that $10 back? I need to pay Time Warner for their crappy Internet services.
It turns out that Time Warner has a habit of overestimating people's modesty—especially that of their customers.
A month ago, Time Warner Cable chief technology officer Irene Esteves suggested that their customers don't want faster Internet speeds, and they especially don't want gigabit speeds offered by Google Fiber. She believes that only businesses will need that sort of bandwidth—a service that Time Warner already offers to such customers.
According to Esteves, "We’re in the business of delivering what consumers want, and to stay a little ahead of what we think they will want... We just don’t see the need of delivering that to consumers."
Rather than being faced with a lack of customer demand, experts believe that Time Warner is simply trying to maximize its profits. Time Warner and similar companies are making a 97% profit for their existing services(check out MIT's Technology Review for more detail).
Until Google Fiber becomes available to the public, we're stuck facing service carriers who offer nearly identical services and prices. Based on Time Warner's attitude, it doesn't matter what we want because they apparently know better.
What do you think? Does Time Warner have it right? Is our Internet speed fast enough based on how much we're being charged for it? Or is Time Warner full of it? You better respond before Time Warner answers for you!
In the meantime, check out the following ad from an honest cable company.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
“The television commercial is the most peculiar and pervasive form of communication to issue forth from the electric plug. An American who has reached the age of forty will have seen well over one million television commercials in his or her lifetime,…competition in the marketplace requires that the buyer not only knows what is good for him but what also what is good…there even exists in law a requirement that sellers must tell the truth about their products, for if the buyer has no protection from false claims, rational decision-making is seriously impaired (126-127).”