So… it’s been like half a year since I posted on this blog, but for anyone who’s actually following this, a quick heads-up. Updates will now be much more regular, but unfortunately, they will also be a great deal… drier. This year I’m taking a class in the use of Digital Resources, and as part of it, we have to write a blog update once a week on the readings. So if you’re into that field, hopefully it will be interesting, but otherwise this is likely to be rather obtuse.
Anyway. So that’s the situation. And now, onto the blog proper:
To me, perhaps the most compelling of the readings was this article by Nicholas Carr, entitled “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” I’d heard the point about Internet ruining attention spans before, but this was a much more thorough examination, and the comparison of the internet to writing/printing press (which people also worried about dumbing people down) was encouraging. In a way, it’s ironic that I like the shortest article, as that’s part of Carr’s complaint.
In “Students who Teach Us,” Selfe’s examination of new media and how it should be integrated in future classrooms was clear and thought-provoking. Her point about technology being used to further polarize groups, rather than bring them together, is an unusual point which I had not considered, but can see the value of. Her concerns about the lack of technology access to the poor are especially well-founded, though I believe that perhaps, in the years since this article was written, access to technology has improved dramatically, rendering this no longer as serious of a problem.
Similarly, I find Brandt’s article, “Sponsors of Literacy” to be a little outdated. Though doubtless these issues still exist, I cannot help feeling that they have been much evened out since 1998. The article’s reliance on anecdotes, while it makes it clear and interesting, at the same time makes it more difficult to get a picture of the national scene.
Selfe’s other article, “Technology and Literacy: A Story about the Perils of Not Paying Attention,” is much more up to date, and in some ways very cutting. and indeed convicting in its call for humanity teachers to incorporate technology as a way of enhancing student’s functional literacy in the world today, and certainly moved me to try to use computers as part of the curriculum when I begin to teach. I also agreed with its argument hat school’s funding should be focused more on training teachers and less on simply dispensing laptops. Throwing money at a problem is not always a good solution.
Though at times I had trouble following the thread of the argument in “Opening New Media to Writing” by Wysocki , nonetheless it was interesting. I am inclined to think Wysocki is somewhat overemphasizing the affect of a text’s material, but Carr’s article shows that the concern is very real. In a way, Wysocki seems less interested in making a single argument and more interested in defining the problem and the terms that the rest of the book will presumably use. The vision of the solution he is much less clear on, and he does not make many specific observations on how different materials affect the text. But then, considering how fast technology outpaces such judgements, perhaps that is just as well.