” Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski,” said Nicholas Carr. In his article,”Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, Carr plays devil’s advocate for the anti-technology groups who fear the possibilities of the Internet. After reading this article, I feel like I am riding right behind Carr on the Jet Ski and I am holding on for dear life. I think that our generation is extremely unique because we have grown up around technology. The first iPod came out when I was 9 and I had a Razr cell phone by the time I was 13. I took typing courses in elementary school to learn how to navigate Microsoft Word and I was making Powerpoint presentations for my middle school history class. So, do we really get to be the prime specimens of whether technology has stifled our capacity to learn? I guess so. Carr says,”media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles.” I will be the first one to admit that with the formation of Facebook and Twitter , it is extremely difficult to stay devoted to a single task for a long period of time. We do not want to read books, but just articles. We do not want to watch documentaries , but just short films. We do not want to listen to a concert, but we want the specific song. Ironically, the fact that we are reading links off of Moodle is just another example of how technology has shaped the educational world.
It is possible that maybe all of what Carr says in the article is true. Maybe we are beginning on a new road in the realm of information where we want it fast,precise, and with as little brain power as possible. Can it all be blamed on the ever-changing media? One thing is for sure: I must have been effected by these factors because the second article, “Introduction: Electracy”, by Ulmer, was extremely difficult to understand. Ulmer states, ” Electracy needs to do for digital imaging what literacy did for the written word. The purpose of my pedagogy, then, is to learn to use the figural as a mode of image reason, as a supplement to the existing institutional commitment to argumentation and analysis.” Like literacy and orality, electracy is a social apparatus. What is the difference between electracy and digital literacy? I thought that the tables inserted into the article were helpful in giving context to what Ulmer was explaining. I felt like I was back in the SAT prep class: Religion is to Orality as Entertainment is to Electracy. Connecting the dots by association was helpful for me. I’m glad to know that all of that time didn’t go to waste.
Ulmer also states, ” This new metaphysics, drawing on aesthetic practices of language and art, is an important resource for electracy, whose categories function not through written words but recorded images.” What is the realm of recorded images? Does this include movies or simply internet-based searches? Last semester, I wrote a paper commenting on the consequences of an increased presence of virtual reality in the real world. It seems that this concept of electracy is moving us to think forwardly. Just as the one of the creators of Google , Brin, said, “Certainly if you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.” I would beg to differ. Throughout my research , I found many studies by the American Psychological Association that suggest such exposure to virtual reality,” …increases aggressive behavior, … aggressive thoughts…angry feelings, …decreases helpful behavior, and . . . increases physiological arousal.” Don’t get me wrong. I love technology as much as the next person , but I believe that society needs to be informed and aware of how the technology is influencing them. So, I will be the first to hop on the Jet Ski, but I am bringing my life jacket along just in case I need to take a swim.