15 September 2010

Education 3.0 and Digital Empires

This wonderful graph is courtesy of my classmate hsmaggie, who found the ideas here. Here I can compare my mother's education with my own:

My mother, Education 1.0: My mother began college in 1981. Electric typewriters were commonplace, although teachers did not expect students to type final drafts. Sometimes you could get extra credit if you typed your final paper! And, for those times when you really needed extra credit and couldn't type to save your life, you could pay other students to type your papers for you. At my mother's college, they had some high tech typewriters, too--these had a correcting ribbon that enabled the typist to white out mistakes and type over them. Her perception of a computer was a machine that took up an entire building and was found only in science labs.

Me, Education 3.0: I'll mention a few highlights--last year, I decided that I'd like to go to India for research. This semester, I've emailed, facebooked, and skyped several Tibetan employees in India simply in preparation for research. I keep a blog and easily interact with my classmates through the internet. Right now, I'm sitting in my apartment using a laptop computer that my parents bought for me as a graduation gift.

I was just reading a bit about Zuckerberg, the founder of facebook, and his legal battle that is to be featured in the New York Film Festival opening night showing of "The Social Network." It makes sense, but I didn't know that Zuckerberg is a billionaire and the central feature of the New York Film Festival! He's only 26.

Facebook has become a digital empire, right up in the ranks of Google and YouTube (see Alexa for the top websites). Do you think, like Hobbes, that Google, Facebook, and YouTube should have sovereignty over the web? An unrelated but interesting question: my AP English teacher told our class that the internet generation brains are wired differently, that we do not have the patience to read involved texts anymore. She said that we are wired to seek the easiest, simplest source of information (e.g. wikipedia). Do you think she's right?


  1. Well, that's the path of least resistance. We are accustomed to things happening quickly, almost instantaneously - of course we expect things to happen quickly.
    I spent a whole 3 hours yesterday researching background information for a new research project I want to develop. Most of that time was spent online on the library database skimming articles and seeing if they were relevant to the topic. I found a few books which could be interesting - I was surprised at how reluctant I was to go find the books and see if I could check them out. A few years ago I would have not thought that was a hassle at all. Now it's inconvenient - why aren't all the books online, and why don't they all have search functions so I can look for relevant terms quickly? Sheesh. :)

  2. I have no idea if my brain is wired differently from my parents, but my African American Literature professor said something interesting the other day. She said that today's college graduates have read less material than ever before. At the same time, our generation is more comfortable with taking material from various sources and reading them.
    I think we don't like the idea of one source being available at one time (like a book or finding said text). We'd rather have the openness of online research, which (at least in my case) starts with Wikipedia.

  3. Jakydigiciv, I agree. I've found myself in a similar situation with regards to checking out library books.

    Mike, that's fascinating! I know that I, for one, have found that I have very little patience for books that aren't Harry Potter (I recently struggled to read Ibuse's Black Rain), yet I am an English major (yes, yes, it's true, I have not yet finished anything by Jane Austen or Charles Dickens).

    So where are we going with this? What will happen to the generation that hasn't read what their parents have?

  4. Interesting thought! There's no evolution or tranformation of mankind, but adaptation to circumstance which influences disposition, which I would say is consequential and not naturally intrinsic. It's merely human resilience.

    Facebook, Google, and Youtube are interesting to me because of their democratically founded position. Unlike a declared ruler, these digital governors perish in existence with our decision.

  5. I agree with Sean. If facebook, Google, and YouTube have sovereignty over the web, it's a sovereignty that we give them, very leviathan like.

    What your teacher said is interesting, and a little bit scary. You can learn France in the 1860s quickly off a wiki but can you comprehend the confusion and fear that was experienced by those under an unstable government at the time as you would by reading Les Miserables? What are the implications if students stop reading these primary texts and supplement them with "easier" ones online?

  6. Bri, I think of it this way: you can either know a little about a lot of subjects or a lot about a few subjects. Since you brought up Les Miserables, let's talk about reading. I have always been a reader (although my favorite books are all elementary school-aged reads, which I attribute to the fact that I don't have time for pleasure reading now that I'm grown up). I haven't read Les Miserables (indeed, the list of books that I haven't read would shock you, considering that we're both English majors). Recently, I decided that I needed to reevaluate my reading choices. I decided that, since I have a limited amount of time to live, I must read only that which is most worthwhile--obviously scripture. I am about halfway through the Old Testament and still studying the Book of Mormon. I do read other than scripture and texts for class, but it's very limited.

    It's like Dr. Burton wrote about with the abundance economy and my blog on mass. We have so, so, so much information available to us. We have to skim and select what is valuable. I reserve my in-depth study for scripture, where I feel that it is most valuable.

  7. I feel lucky to be part of a generation that was raised on books before being introduced to the Internet. I have tried to raise my kids the same way, so books are a big part of our home. I can't imagine not reading through Jane Austen -- I love her stuff! I recently read Grapes of Wrath and now am going through Martian Chronicles. I try to make a point of reading one great work a month. I sometimes worry that my enthusiasm for digital culture in this class will obscure my most favorite way of learning, which is to dig into a good book.