A very stimulating discussion today on Sherry Turkle’s Video Games and Computer Holding Power in the New Media Seminar today. I come away each Wednesday having felt like I learned so much from people who have encountered and considered these topics far more than I have. What I experience is the type of engagement that would be utterly fantastic if/when it occurs in any of my classes. This is what I’m learning most from my fellow seminarians. Especially today’s discussion.
But what is the essence of intellectual engagement? How does it happen? When does it happen? Where does it happen? Why does it happen? I know that for me that I just get interested in stuff and want to more about it. But naturally the things that interest me don’t necessarily interest the next person. Fortunately I’ve encountered several people in my life who have shared their interests with me and at the same time, stimulated and engaged me. The most important is Chris Olsen (friend and non-academic) who taught me the meaning of “who says?” and “why not?” Also, Paul Wack, Steve French, and Bill Drummond (academic mentors). And also a catholic nun (whose name I can’t recall) who allowed me to learn Basic Programming in 1974 (or so) on what I think was a TI Tymshare 100 (with an acoustic coupler modem). How they did it I’m not sure. A combination of shared interests, encouragement, inspiration, and willingness to take the time. And I’m pretty sure they didn’t intend to.
Which finally brings me around to Sherry Turkle, technology, and video games. Yes, games and technology have structure, rules, and can be distracting. But as mentioned in the discussion today, they can also be used for a source of communication, inspiration, entertainment, and engagement. I’m not sure we know the meaning of much of this yet, but in the mean time we will continue to explore.