27 October 2010

Common Sense

"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." --Albert Einstein

Modernism has a lot of ties to our world today.  From the definition, modernism includes a "sense of cultural crisis which [is] both exciting and disquieting."  Important general features are the loss of a sense of tradition and the increasing dominance of technology (which is both condemned vehemently and embraced as the flagship of progress).

A key element of modernism is the break with the past.  Albert Einstein's general and special theories of relativity are a beautiful example of this.  Here's an explanation of relativity from Jake's blog.

Google Reader

One thing I've struggled with in this digital civilization class is time.  It takes me a while to read through enough blog posts to find something worth saying about one of them.

Enter Google reader!  As I said on Betsy's blog, I am a doubter when it comes to simplifying life by adding more technology to it.  Doesn't that seem counter intuitive?  In this case I believe I was wrong.

Google reader allows me to quickly scan all of the blogs I follow without jumping around to different websites.  I then can decide which ones to read more carefully and comment on.  Brilliant!

26 October 2010

ORCA: The Office of Research and Creative Activities

My university is now accepting applications for $1,800 research grants through ORCA. I've been working on my application, so I'll post my third draft and open for critiques. Let me know what you think!

Importance of project: We live in the midst of a digital renaissance, reflected in swift technological advances and cultural revolution. Often, those living in the United States have nearly constant access to technological resources, especially the internet. Developing nations like India, however, have significantly limited access by comparison. The Tibetan community living in exile in McLeod Ganj, India is a contradiction--the residents boast a high level of digital literacy but usually lack desktop, laptop, and mobile computers. Though Paul Levinson and others have studied the implications of the digital renaissance in first world countries, that which concerns developing countries has focused on the digital divide between nations. Now, due to the advances of mobile technology, the phenomenon of developing countries "digitally leapfrogging" developed nations displaces the notion of digital divide (Fink and Kenny 15). This results in a gap in scholarship concerning digitally literate communities without prime access to technology, especially for the Tibetans' unique exile in India. The digital renaissance is global in its effects, largely because global communication is easier than ever. Therefore, scholarship concerning digital literacy must extend beyond national borders just as its subject matter does.

20 October 2010


My daddy didn't like that I took AP psychology in high school. He doesn't like psychology at all. When I asked him about it, he would say that they psychology is the philosophies of men.

(Disclaimer: I actually really like psychology, I think the discipline has helped to emphasize some eternal truths, but I also believe that some psychology is not of God)

Lately, I've been thinking about the philosophies of men. They spring up everywhere. 2 Nephi 9:28-29 says,

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.

How often have people become so caught up in science, technology, literature, or anything and ultimately forsaken God for their own wisdom?


Today in my writing literary criticism class we were talking about our research papers that are due next week. My professor said that several students had contacted him needing help with finding sources. In response, he spent a significant portion of the class telling us to look for sources with a plain old Google search.

I doubted him. I went to the library search first, then to Google scholar. I found next to nothing that was useful to me.

Then I went to regular Google and typed "digital leapfrogging." Here's what I found:

  • An article about leapfrogging in Korean firm and digital TV
  • Another article entitled "Myths of digital technology in Africa: Leapfrogging development?"
  • A blurb about mobile phones on the Goldstein Report, "The best of technology news on the net"
  • A news item from the Asia Times (unfortunately outdated but with the great title "Developing world leapfrogging the digital divide")
  • A paper, The Role of Leapfrogging in the Future of Youth Work and Workforce Preparation
So, altogether, not the best sources but still informative.

19 October 2010

Little Skype

I've heard of field study students having a hard time getting into TCV schools, so I thought I'd ask Norbu about my chances.

Kristen Nicole: Hello Norbu! Are you well?

Norbu: ya...very much wat happen
Norbu: n u?

Kristen Nicole: I'm doing great thanks

Norbu: so
Norbu: hows yiour study going on

Kristen Nicole: it's going very well, actually
Kristen Nicole: I"m trying to get funding right now

Norbu: ok

Kristen Nicole: but I've narrowed my focus to digital literacy
Kristen Nicole: and I think I'll primarily conduct interviews and surveys and observe classrooms

Norbu: poic

Future Shock

From Wikipedia, future shock is "a term for a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies, introduced by Toffler in his book of the same name. Toffler's shortest definition of future shock is a personal perception of 'too much change in too short a period of time.'"

As I cited that article, I thought about how this rapid change is not reflected in academic documentation. Wikipedia is ever changing, so who is to say if that quote will exist tomorrow? Am I to cite some this moment in the Wikipedia archives instead of the page itself?

Anyway, Charles Darwin's Origin of Species says of dominant species, "each large group tends to become still larger, and at the same time more divergent in character. But as all groups cannot thus succeed in increasing in size, for the world would not hold them, the more dominant groups beat the less dominant."

The digital revolution displays natural selection in such ways as: blogs that are read and blogs that aren't, online and physical newspapers, and the fluid online battle of ideas in forums like Wikipedia, and the speed of digital evolution lends itself to future shock.

The public reaction to Darwin's claim was widespread doubt. Evolution challenged religious fundamentals, specifically the book Genesis. Darwin himself lost his Christian faith after training as a clergyman. We, too, live in a time of widespread doubt as the Victorian age. Perhaps we have lost some capacity for faith because of the future shock phenomenon. Because we now have the ideas of instant, accurate information, an overwhelming sea of internet, where is the place for a God we cannot see or friend on Facebook?

What effect does the digital renaissance have on Tibetan religion? How does the Dalai Lama manage the technological wave and his religious position? How do students deal with the onslaught of information? Do they experience future shock?

13 October 2010

"A Certain Colouring of Imagination"

The famous preface to Lyrical Ballads explains that the principal object of them
was to choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them, throughout, as far as was possible in a selection of language really used by men, and, at the same time, to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual aspect; and, further, and above all, to make these incidents and situations interesting by tracing the manner in which we associate ideas in a state of excitement.
Dr. Burton has experimented with the form of his own poems, and here's the result on his blog.

12 October 2010

Lyrical Ballads

My group has chosen to read Lyrical Ballads, by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, for our digital civilization book group. Here is a link to the full text, free online! Oh, the wonders of technology.

Did You Know?

The drastic changes of 19th century American expansion share characteristics with the digital revolution. Here are some points for comparison:

1. Americans were heading to the physical frontier then and now we face the digital frontier

2. As quoted in Turner's 1893 text, "We are great, and rapidly--I was about to say fearfully--growing!" We have this paradox today: the digital world is so great and advancing so swiftly. . . but is that frightening? What are the consequences of a digital renaissance?

3. Turner also writes that "the frontier is the outer edge of the wave--the meeting point between savagery and civilization." Much that is associated with the digital world, like informality, is a drastic departure from the expected decorum of the past.

4. Thoreau's Walden is a return to simplicity from an increasingly complex world. Some people resist the digital onslaught of information, like those people who refuse to get facebook.

I found a great video that illustrates our expansion into the digital frontier:

The most significant fact from that movie for me was this: "It is estimated that a week's worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century."

Now, I don't know how anyone could come up with such a statistic, but it is interesting to note that we truly live in a more complex world since we have access to masses of information.

Do Tibetan students feel overwhelmed as I do with the mass of information in the digital frontier? How do Tibetans in India perceive the digital frontier?

07 October 2010

The Magic of Harold

Today, Harold, otherwise known as the Harold B. Lee Library, reintroduced me to the physical world. It is a wonderful place!

Here's the story. First, check out Harold's commercial, if you haven't already.

I use Harold primarily as a study spot. I can always find a computer or a desk in a quiet place. Most BYU students, according to my ongoing scientific study--which consists of studying in the library and, occasionally, looking around--don't browse the books. Most use only computers and desks like I do.

So today I was sitting at a computer in the library, as usual. I got on to the library website and searched for Paul Levinson's New New Media, which I decided I want to read again. After searching the catalogs and finding that Harold has let me down, I requested the book through inter-library loan.

Now the good part! As I was searching for Levinson in the catalog, I found three more of his books that looked interesting: Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium, Cellphone: The Story of the World's Most Mobile Medium and how it has Transformed Everything!, and The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the Information Revolution.

Then! I decided to get physical copies of all three books, even though two are available online! I remembered that I get headaches from looking too long at a screen of light. So there I was, browsing the bookshelves, when I found two of the books! The third was a bit more tricky. I had looked up the library floor maps online, but I'd forgotten where on the fifth floor my book should be. Annoyed, I started to walk over to the computers so I could look up the floor maps again.

On my way to the computers, I stumbled upon a huge physical floor map! Hey, that's right! They have several of those things on every floor! I looked up section P, found my book, and danced off to check out my new finds.

Here are some of the chapters I'm most excited about:

  • The Mind Behind the Screen
  • Way Cool Text: Cultural consequences
  • Television as art in the Digital Age
  • The Drawbacks of Always Being in Touch
  • The Chinese invention of modern Europe
  • New online faces--inter, smiley, and more
  • A short history of intellectual property
  • Information may want to be free--but creators in information still need to eat

Maybe these books will be helpful for the ORCA grant that I'm writing, or maybe they'll just be interesting! In any case, I'm glad Harold brought me offline and showed me some of his magic.

06 October 2010

Book Club

My digital civilization class is doing small group book clubs, and I have three ideas for what we can read.

1. Hard Times by Charles Dickens

The novel includes characters who espouse the idea of utilitarianism and shows the impact thereof. There's a direct parallel between the "stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions" that Elder Bednar discussed and the effects of utilitarianism.

2. Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The themes of the Romantic period are evident in these poems, and they'd be a great springboard for discussion.

3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I really just like this book!

05 October 2010

Prezi--Finding my Focus

For my field study strategy session today, I made the following prezi presentation that summarizes my ideas about digital literacy for Tibetan students. I think I've finally come to a reasonable, interesting topic for my field research.

We live in the midst of a digital renaissance. Those of us who grew up with internet have brains wired for digital literacy, and the effects are manifest in our culture. To what extent does Tibetan culture exhibit these same effects? What difference does regular internet access make in student digital literacy?

04 October 2010


My mentor Dr. Burton asked me to document my efforts (outside of classmates' blogs) to become involved in online conversations. Here's a list of some places I've commented:

The one I'm most excited about is a recent discovery. I went to talk to Rick West, an Instructional Psychology and Technology professor at BYU, and he gave me the address to his class website. Not only does he have great, regular posts, but the blog has links to the student blogs for everyone taking his class this semester! I will never run out of online conversations now!