Future professor? Perhaps. Prepared? Not a chance.
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  • On Farman’s “The Myth of the Disconnected Life”

    Posted on March 19th, 2014 sarahann No comments

    There were a few things in Jason Farman’s essay “The Myth of the Disconnected Life” that I felt could have used a little more fleshing out. Farman seems to have two main points: 1) that historical worries about the effects of technology on society did not pan out, and 2) that smartphones, in fact, allow for greater social integration instead of distraction.

    I have heard so many people disregard Plato’s arguments against writing that I now have to wonder, was he really wrong? No, I will not say that I want to live in a world without writing. Rather, I would simply like to point out that I have never read a study about the societal effects of writing on ancient Greece. Maybe there was less conversation after the advent of writing. Maybe bicycles did have a societal impact. We cannot know exactly what these technologies changed about society, but it is certain that they did impact society. And as with all things, it is likely that some was good, and some was bad. It would seem foolish to say that they had only good impacts just because we have never known a world in which they did not exist.

    Farman’s second argument seems to have little to do with his first. He goes from discussing the impacts of technology on personal relationships to pointing out incidences of technology being used for education. While that education may take place on a sidewalk instead of in a classroom, he is still talking about gaining an education in history. I think his argument would have been strengthened if he had stuck with his original topic of person to person communication.

  • Dystopian Distractions

    Posted on March 13th, 2014 sarahann No comments

    While reading Nicholas Carr’s article, “Is Google Making us Stupid?,” one passage in particular struck me:

    When the Net absorbs a medium, that medium is re-created in the Net’s image. It injects the medium’s content with hyperlinks, blinking ads, and other digital gewgaws, and it surrounds the content with the content of all the other media it has absorbed. A new e-mail message, for instance, may announce its arrival as we’re glancing over the latest headlines at a newspaper’s site. The result is to scatter our attention and diffuse our concentration.

    That last sentence reminded me of a short story story my class read in elementary school called Harrison Bergeron. The story, written by Kurt Vonnegut, portrays a futuristic dystopia in which everyone is equal. People who are too skinny must wear weighted bags to bring them up to average weight. People who are particularly pretty must wear masks. And people who are intelligent have periodic sounds transmitted into their ears in order to break up their thoughts.

    In a way, hyperlinks and internet browsing can act in a similar manner to the fictional sound “handicaps.” I can’t begin to count the number of times I have read an interesting article, and clicked my way around the internet until I can’t remember where I started. Perhaps these aren’t distractions that are maliciously placed by a dictatorial “Handicapper General,” but they operate in the same way. Instead of creating well-formed, articulated thoughts and opinions, we meander aimlessly across the Web.