Concept in 60 Seconds

 

 

 

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Is Social Media really just a “Cool Place”?

Concerning the first half of It’s Complicated, I, probably along with many who read this book, share in the authors sense of nostalgia as she presses her argument on the networking of high schoolers in our technological age. I’m taken back to the days where I spent hours online role playing with friends or taking quizzes in class because everyone was doing it or instant messaging the guy I liked the second I got home just to have an “out-of-school” conversation with him. I find myself agreeing, out of these personal experiences, with plenty that Boyd has to offer in the way of teens being pressed for publics where they can interact with their friends on their own level. When I think about it, it’s true that kids these days do not have the same freedoms that our parents or even their parents had in their younger years. Gone are the small towns and home before dark curfews with only a vague knowledge of where the kids have wandered off to in that suburban safety mentality. However, the notion Boyd seems to argue that teens need this technological “cool space” from social media, that it isn’t nearly as distracting as we may think it to be seems a little farfetched to me.

I found the introduction of  It’s Complicated extremely eye opening in this sense of how the “persistence, visibility, spreadability, and searchability” of content and information have not changed over time but merely taken up a new format. With these new formats though come complications, such as the book title implies, that can be tricky to get around but I applaud Boyd’s optimistic view of the creativity of teens. Certainly teens will find a way to communicate with as many people and friends as possible while trying to bypass the constant surveillance of their parents, but is that really all they use the social media for? Boyd even illustrates a situation later in chapter 1 in an example about the website “4chan” where young boys use the freedoms of this website in “problematic or destructive ways” (42). With all the freedoms of the internet and social media websites that can offer anonymity and a secure sense of invincibility, these outlets meant to afford the accessibility of material for teens then become publics ripe with other, more pernicious activities. As neighborhood playgrounds are intended to be fun safe environments for kids and adults to gather for social interaction, they can also be potentially rampant with predators, drugs, gangs, etc.

There is something to be said about context too, which Boyd elaborates on throughout the first half of this book. Though I believe that at any point in time people have constantly been taking the words, actions, or intents of others out of context, the internet sure does make it easier to do so. I include a clip of Trump singing “Closer” by the Chainsmokers as an example of just how easy it is to play with the context of anything. Trump

Information Overload

Regardless of the subject being discussed, there are many noticeable differences between writing platforms. Many of these differences center around the idea that the Net/modern technology can change not only our thoughts but the way we think, process information, and the speed at which we receive this material. Carr gives a metaphor using water, a bath tub, a thimble, and faucets to symbolize how we tend to retain the information we are fed. His belief is that filling a bathtub with a thimble is equivalent to transferring our working memory into our long-term memory. He follows this example with, “when we read a book, the information faucet provides a steady drip, which we can control by the pace of our reading” (124). He follows by saying that when on the internet, “with the Net, we face many information faucets, all going full blast” (125). Although this is true, a book provides only what is permanently stained with ink while the Net contains a plethora of options, does that mean that we are actually trying to process every single bit of information at once?

It is possible to read an article or even multiple articles online at a pace that we choose. It is even possible to revisit online articles, posts, etc. multiple times just as we would with a tangible book. For example, when I do research on a topic I still narrow my search. Regardless of if I receive my data from a book or the internet I am still specifying what I am looking for and specifying even further by choosing which of those links I read and/or use. I don’t try to click on every single link that might have to do with what I’m looking for, I only choose the ones that seem the most relevant. In that sense, I have multiple faucets running but I still choose which faucets to fill my thimble and later bathtub. When I look up a specific topic and I find the same fact in a book and on a webpage, it’s the fact that matters not the platform in which I got it. I am not saying that there is no difference between the different mediums of written works, I am simply saying that it is possible to limit what faucets are running when searching on the Net. I don’t feel as if my ability to learn about a subject is suffering because it came from online, just coming from a different platform than a written text.

book-vs-ebook
technofaq.org

This image I found interesting because it portrays the opposite of what Carr is saying, that ebooks and Net learning are better pathways than resources made with ink and paper. But if the information is the same, could it just be a personal preference on which style of learning suits the individual best?

Information Hungry

As a 20 year old student, I am stating the obvious when I say that I am a digital native. Although kids my age grew up reading books like Harry Potter and Twilight, we also grew up with Wikipedia and SparkNotes. Technology and the internet were present as I was growing up but now as a young adult our world is predominantly digital. As technology developed, my mind developed along with it. The plasticity of my mind is simply a product of my generation.

In chapter three of The Shallows, Carr talks about the newness of written and literary work. He describes how the transition from an oral world to a written world was especially intellectually demanding because of the amount of attention long-term reading required. Amongst this Carr makes the point: “Our predisposition is to shift our gaze, and hence our attention, from one object to another, to be aware of as much of what’s going on around us as possible.” (63). I believe that this point is not only the epitome of my life but the lives of all digital natives.

When I buckled down to read The Shallows, Carr’s account of his difficulty concentrating while reading could not have been any more relatable as I found myself itching to grab my phone. I came to the realization that while I was reading this book, I was merely receiving information from Carr and my mind is accustomed to acquiring a myriad of information at once from different channels all within my phone. I can receive all different kinds of information whether it is an email from the school president or a CNN video someone shared on Facebook. My mind is always wanting more information because that’s what it’s used to. I speak for my generation when I say that we want to know and form opinions about everything.

At a time where information is so accessible, all I want to do is access it. We are either pulling information or information is being pushed toward us or this is occurring simultaneously. A device as small as our phones gives us the power to know what’s going on around us not just where we live or go to school but all over the world. Even at the beginning of a literary world, way before social media was created, our minds were craving more.

In this video, part of a Social Media Revolution series by Erik Qualmann, we learn about the advancement and the power of the Internet that Carr raves about. Our need for knowledge has created many platforms that are useful and even essential to our everyday lives. For example, through an outlet like LinkedIn, I can connect with not only people I go to school with but anyone I’ve met. I completely agree with the way Carr’s point of describing humanity’s need for awareness because I am a living testimony of it.

Measure and Calculate

The idea that Carr talks about starting on page 44 is one of the most interesting to me. He talks about how, using technology as our tools, we “seek to expand our power and control over our circumstances.” As he continues on to classify them into four major parts, it is interesting how spot-on he is about how technology is simply human attempts at gaining control over nature, over each other, and over a thousand different things that we don’t SEE technology as, but it truly is this attempt to gain control.
Apart from Carr’s example of a fighter jet as an example of physical control (fighter jets are awesome), I believe the fourth technological classification category to be the most applicable to me as a business student. Carr notes that they can be referred to as “intellectual technologies.” A map or a clock would be examples of this category of technology. These are technologies we use to classify information, form ideas about certain things based on data and numbers. My laptop and the internet are examples of this technology as well because it expands my mental capacity and my ability to support my mind.
I found it very interesting that I don’t really stop and think about how much we calculate things – especially as a business student – and how I less often think about how someone had to “think up” a way to calculate this or that. How primitive certain calculations must have been thousand of years ago. How did we move from that to calculus, finite math, physics? Who was the first one to think of certain accounting principles for businesses? It’s insane to think about how much we calculate and try to understand things with research and data, but yet we don’t stop and think about how those calculations came to be. And how certain calculations at certain speeds weren’t available in the near past. How many math equations were done at <a href=”https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-8/features/CalculatingByHand_Feature_5_8.html”>NASA</a&gt; by hand before computer technology was really advanced?
Don’t get me wrong – I believe that the other categories of technology are important; extending our physical strength, extending the range of our senses, and reshaping nature to fit our needs are all important. I just thought that the technology that allows us to measure and calculate things and support our mental powers were more applicable to me as a business major. With all the calculations I do for classes, I don’t know where I’d be without technology helping me.