Technological Literacy

Literacy and Technology Linked, http://www.scribd.com/doc/25228086/Selfe-Literacy-1999 by C.L Selfe is a thought-provoking analysis on the technological literacy project involved in the United States. As mentioned in the article, the Clinton Administration began a challenge to increase the literacy of technology through a combined effort with communities, the private sector, the federal government, parents, educators, various organizations, and other resources.  I agree the inception of this cause has been for the greater benefit of society and pursuit of social and economically progress for the future workforce.

However, Selfe mentions a few obstacles that cannot be ignored. For one, the cost of such a project has been overwhelming, as should be expected with a technology based movement. Computers are expensive and since school districts are largely run by
community taxes, lower developed neighborhoods do not have equal access to computers or other forms of high-cost technology. Therefore, this creates an imbalance of who receives a first world education with updated technology, and those who remain educated by previous forms of teaching.

Although I do advocate teaching through books and lectures, technology is an imperative medium for business, science, medicine, infrastructure, education,  and thus failing to instill the proper tools for students to be successful in these fields is definitely a
detriment to our society. How do we create an environment that levels the playing field for everyone? Is that even feasible? I agree with Selfe that educating students on technology and computer literacy is a joint effort of parents, educators,  the private sector,
government, and non-profit organizations. Nonetheless, the cost of this movement and effort remains a hurdle.

According to the statistics provided in this article, minority students remain less educated in technology and the less income a family has, the less a parent can provide the necessary technology for a student to learn at home. How can we provide a solution to this gap in resources? To begin with, non-profit organizations and donating laptops and computers would be a start. As the federal government continues to stretch its resources, there needs to more collaboration within the local communities, businesses, and educators. This can be extremely difficult for lower income neighborhoods , but it is definitely achievable.

Intellectual enlightenment is not achieved by believing in any absolute truth.

 

I have always been interested in people who claim absolute truth in any subject. For lack of a better word, I find it silly. I grew up in a Catholic family, yet was fortunate to have parents who always insisted that my sister and I read and study other cultures, religions, and forms of thinking. By the time I was 12, I was a disciplined alter boy who had read the bible cover to cover twice. Although I was young and did not understand the bible completely, my priest encouraged me to read the Torah and Quran as well.  When I started my Undergraduate studies, I was anxious to study  more world religions and philosophy, yet having traveled extensively, I knew that culture was the key element that separated many of our worldly views.  Thus,  I began to realize that absolute truth was relative and a creation of social evolution.

As I have grown older, I do not claim any religious loyalty nor philosophical truth. I enjoy very much the works of Bertrand Russel and Nietzsche, and although Nietzsche has greatly influenced my ideas, I will argue that claiming there is no God is also a submission to an absolute truth.  I understand this is where the works of Richard Dawkins will suffice that the probability is lower that a God does exist. In this respect, I can agree with Dawkins. Afterall, there is as much divine proof for Zeus as there is for Jesus.(Scripture written concerning a deity does not increase the validity of the existence or non-existence.)

I do not limit the silliness of believing in an absolute truth simply to religious views. If we recall, Pluto was once a planet without controversy. Today the reclassification as a dwarf planet has divided the scientific community. I understand there are practical purposes to believing something. For example, mathematics, general relativity, and the periodic table of elements are concepts which help society innovate improvements in science, technology, medicine, and infrastructure.  Yet, I insist these should all be taken with a grain of salt. We are humans limited to our human understanding. Perhaps one day there will be another theory for gravity or time travel will revolutionize the way we understand science, technology, and life itself.

I will however, admit there are certain “absolute truths” that are currently non-negotiable. 1. If you are reading this, you are alive. 2. We will all die one day. To counter these absolute truths, perhaps one day science and technology will evolve to where death will no longer be a factor in life, and someone may be physically dead but mentally alive and able to retain memory and information in the future. (Like a computer) Thus, changing these  “absolute truths”.

Below I have included a link to an article of an astronomer capturing the image of a planet forming.

http://news.yahoo.com/hawaii-astronomer-captures-image-forming-planet-230958310.html

Although I am aware this image of a planet forming only confirms the process of a planet formation, it does not negate nor confirm that a deity is the source of instigation. However, the planet formation has taken more than six days in transformation. How do you creation believers explain this? If the bible is a work of absolute truth, then is this not a contradiction of the creation timeline of Genesis? I do not expect to receive a proposed answer that has not already been given in the last three hundred years to explain the creation theory, nonetheless, these explanations remain short of being intellectually and scientifically sound. A counter theory of course is that of Deism, which advocates a creator, however this creator does not “intervene in human affairs or suspend the natural laws of  the universe”.

It is for these reasons that I strongly believe that in order to achieve intellectually enlightenment, it is not practical to believe in any absolute truth. Otherwise,  our mentality will be closed to all progressive and innovative possibilities.

 

The World Wide Web and A Rape in Cyberspace.

“The World Wide Web” by Berners-Lee presents a dissection of how the web was initially created and how the information provider has changed with coding and accesibility. As new sites are created and technology improves, online users are not required to know how to create codes, websites, or have any programing background.  I am not personally familiar with coding or the details of programing, however  I am excited to be living in a time where information is readily available to users worldwide. I have been fortunate to travel the world on business and pleasure and it is a very unique atmosphere to see people in Latin America, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East connected by servers providing a medium for global communication, commerce, and education.

The article “A Rape in Cyberspace” by Dibbell is a very interesting analysis at online communities, yet can also seem trivial to someone not involved in online neighborhoods such as LambdaMOO. There is no denial that technology will continue to evolve and the digital world will further integrate into real-life scenarios. The mass population however currently resides with a separation between the physical real life and virtual reality.

Human emotion is extremely subjective and therefore we cannot dictate what someone will feel regardless if they are in the real life or virtual reality. However, I do not have any sympathy for the “victim” in this article. The internet and the virtual world is within our control as we utilize a keyboard and mouse. I agree it is to the greater benefit that civility and respect always be promoted yet as adults we know that is not always going to happen.

As I stated above, it is probable in the future that there will be an increase in integration between the physical and virtual world. The possibilities are limitless and perhaps intimacy will even be shared online that reflects or entails a physical touch. Nonetheless, a physical distinction still remains. It is apparent however, that the psychological differences are not black and white.

There are countless examples where pyschological taunting has caused people to commit suicide without ever having been physical tortured or bullied. The difference with the online taunting is that a user can easily click away from a site, community, or other media outlet.  In real life, the taunter migh be a friend, relative, school mate, etc. Thus the personal connection increases and makes the bullying more severe. As the article states, the web is linked by people worldwide which could included anyone from Al Gore to Bill Gates.

Even though the virtual taunting may not be physical, it can still have an effect on society with children and others who many not be mentally capable of distinguishing between the two realms. Since we are still in the primative stages of the digital world,( I say this due to the fact we have not yet fully integrated the virtual and physical world) do we wait until a real life tragedy occurs until we begin to deal with the virtual world? Would governing, censoring, or restricting portions of the internet or other social media be effective in preventing tragedies resulting from virtual reality? China and parts of the Middle East for example censor certain websites from its population and sets age restrictions for certain media outlets. Should the United States consider similar action? I am aware such restrictions apply for sexually explicit content, but should other content also be included?

 

We now live in a world with socially-networked armies readily available to attack any issue.

It is  interesting to see how something as a lost phone can cause such effort and unity within a group and community. It’s a bit silly to exhaust such energy for something that can be easily replaced but the means of unification is definitley worth discussing. In this case, social media such as the internet and blogs provided an inexpensive tool to connect millions of people.

As Shirky expressed, the internet has created a platform that presents minimal barriers for achieving various goals. Institutions such as the NYPD are now viewed like a microscope by millions of online readers that have the potential to influence policy. Evan’s website and blog was able to receive enough support that the Times wrote a front page story which led to the NYPD changing the classification from “lost” to “stolen”.

Thus, we are now living in a world with socially-networked  armies readily available to attack any issue. This may read a bit comical, however, this story reflects our changing society and the ability to gain support for concerns that personally strike a chord. If a story about a lost phone can result in such a following, I wonder of the possibility of political and social issues also motivating such advocacy in social networks. We have seen the effects of twitter in Egypt and England, and how quickly a mass movement can be created.

If we utilize these new mediums for the benefit of society, then I believe we can truly emphasize the advantages of democracy by uniting social networks and pushing for change in social and political issues. Justice was brought to a woman who lost her phone by millions of people advocating her cause, hence, the same can be done for causes that have the ability to change people’s lives for the best.

 

My concern with bloggers…

I start law school in the fall and as I was reading the news on cnn.com, I came across an article concerning law school.  The contributing writer is a blogger who I have no knowledge of and therefore decided to research her credentials. After reading her article, I was very shocked that CNN would allow an article with many grammatical errors and innaccurate information concerning law school.

I understand this particular article is not indicative of all bloggers nor should I assume every blog will contain such blunders. However, this does represent how accessible posting misleading information to a reputable online source can be.  Although blogs are based on opinion, and everyone has a right to their view, this reflects what we discussed in class. Do blogs allow anyone to become an expert in their opinion? Is this a benefit to the intellectual progression of society? Perhaps I need to research more well-established bloggers, but I think it’s very important that information still be given by professionals.

I’m not sure if it is due to respect for someone’s trade or profession, but if I have questions about my car, I prefer to consult an experienced Mechanic. If I have questions regarding my health, I prefer to consult a doctor. Blogging definitely serves as an excellent tool to provide information to a mass audience. Perhaps we should set restrictions on who can post on given topics by qualifications. The alternative would also be to simply ignore bloggers who do not show to have expertise or experience in their particular field. I have posted the link below to the article I found to be anything but helpful.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/26/living/reasons-against-law-school/index.html?hpt=hp_bn8

How doesYouTube contribute to the progess of society?

The YouTube video by Wesch is a very interesting analysis of how YouTube is impacting society and relationships. As social media  such as the radio and television have changed communication in society, the internet and websites such as YouTube have also impacted how people interact  and identify with each other.

Reality, identity, social responsibility, and human relationships thus begin to interact in forms never before ventured. I personally view Youtube maybe two or three times a week. I know it’s not very much but I only connect to YouTube if there is something I cannot find elsewhere. I.E. Documentaries, interviews, political videos, historical footage, or sometimes just to search comical videos.

As in any medium, positive and negative results may prevail depending on how the media is used. I agree there are many great videos on youtube that are used for the benefit of society, yet there are also trivial videos that provide zero benefit in my opinion. As I stated above, sometimes I just want to laugh and I search for something comical on youtube. Other times I want to learn and search for something that will have an intellectual benefit.

We are in an extremely unique time in society where media is influencing identity and human relationships through a global connection; the internet. Since we are still learning and exploring new ways to evolve through media, it is imperative that we also implement social responsibility.  In a democracy it can be difficult to gain advocacy for censorship, however innovative ways must be created to ensure that these new media outlets are to the intellectual progression of society, and not just of time and energy.