As I was watching the frontline documentary on how entrenched our society is in social media and the internet I could not help but to find it extremely ironic that at that exact moment I too was entranced in a mediated screen. I was also engaging in social media activity in my phone as well as clicking back and forth through emails; all ways of “multitasking” that are discussed heavily within the documentary. As stated in Digital Nation, multitasking in this way can be extremely detrimental to learning and attention. The main idea of the documentary was to discuss the ever changing and growing technologically mediated society that we live in and also suggest ways to combat the negative effects that this media has on us as well as the younger generations still to come.
In Code Literacy, Douglas Rushkoff (whom was also a big part of the documentary) goes into great detail about why we need to focus on teaching people about how technology/media is created and how to work with it instead of having it work against you. Rushkoff states, “When we are not code literate, we must accept the devices and software we use with whatever limitations and agendas their creators have built into them.” This statement gives merit to the idea that without learning how media is created and used we are destined to be controlled by it. But fear not! Rushkoff also says, “Code literate kids stop accepting the applications and websites they use at face value, and begin to engage critically and purposefully with them instead.” This tells me that there is the potential for educating kids (and adults) on these processes and building stronger as well as smarter future generations. Rushkoff provides a detailed agenda of how to achieve dispersal of this code education program and states, “The obstacles to code literacy are getting smaller every day, while the liabilities for ignorance are only getting more profound.” In other words, there is hope for the future of media and internet usage if proper education is disseminated to the public.
The other extremely interesting article up for discussion this week is called “Small Change” and it was written in The New Yorker online journal by a man named Malcom Gladwell. This writer had a very unique and compelling way to compare and contrast social media activism with high risk activism. He provided many examples of high risk activism such as the Greensboro sit in’s and argued that this type of organized protest was far from what goes on within todays’ social media activism; so much different that they are almost incomparable to one another. There were several quotes from this reading that really stood out to me and supported the argument well. Two of the main quotes were, “The platforms of social media are built around weak ties.” and “Our acquaintances—not our friends—are our greatest source of new ideas and information. The Internet lets us exploit the power of these kinds of distant connections with marvelous efficiency.” These two quotes describe both the strengths and weaknesses involved in social media. Malcom also states, “But it is simply a form of organizing which favors the weak-tie connections that give us access to information over the strong-tie connections that help us persevere in the face of danger” with regards to social media. This piece was a brilliant comparison of high risk activism and todays more common social media activism. As the article also points out, we are much more likely to volunteer to help a cause when there is low risk for us and high reward. If I am being completely honest, I too have been pulled in by these seemingly altruistic acts on social media yet I do not engage in any real world activism for my community or society in general; I hope to change that after graduating.
All in all I would say that this is one of the most fundamental and relevant sections that we will cover over the course of this semester due to the nature of the material. This is something that consumes almost all of our attention, daily. I am very interested to see where this new and forever improving technological society will take us as well as future generations still to come.
Also, another tidbit I’d like everyone to dig deeper into and think critically about is something that Malcom Gladwell mentioned in his article regarding networks vs. hierarchies:
“No one believes that the articulation of a coherent design philosophy is best handled by a sprawling, leaderless organizational system.”
Such powerful and intelligent words written by a brilliant man.