We had an interesting discussion to launch our semester-long analysis of new media. Opening up with a consideration of our overall digital practices and the way new media is woven into our lives, you did some individual freewriting and then moved on to shared reflection. The Think-Pair-Share exercise brought to the collective surface some interesting tensions regarding our relationship to digital tools and technologies in our lives. In listening to all of you, I sensed a distinct ambivalence regarding technology, devices, new media, and social media. You all acknowledged the empowerment that is gained and how crucial technology is to our everyday functioning. But there was also more than a heavy dose of anxiety that accompanied that positive acknowledgement. There seemed to be a concern over blurred boundaries between work time and down time. You expressed an inherent unease with a lack of control over time, …fear of a lack of presence/focus. There was a consistent acknowledgement of being disconnected from our bodies when connecting to new media portals (i.e. sloth-like stasis, slumping and hunching over, etc.). And many of you expressed a distinct anxiety regarding the accelerated effect these new tools might have on the development of young people.
I think this clear ambivalence regarding new media is a useful acknowledgement with which to kick off the semester. As we set a course for a rigorous consideration of how technology tools have effected individuals, communities, and culture, let us bear in mind this particular starting point. It might be instructive to revisit a similar self assessment as we wind down our discussions at the end of the semester. What might evolve, shift, and/or endure regarding our understanding of new media in our lives?
Coming up next week:
-Martha will inaugurate our “discussion lead” class tradition with two articles: Scott Rosenberg’s In the Context of Web Context: How to Check Out Any Web Page; and Neil Postman’s Bullshit and the Art of Crap Detection. These two articles will be read in conjunction with Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart (Chapters 2 & 3). Martha will lead us through the first half of the class (4:30 – 5:45).
-For the second half of the class, we have a few items on the agenda:
- We need to confirm the reading(s) that each presentation will cover. Please look over the Reading Roster carefully now that you know what night you will be presenting (and what theme you will be considering generally speaking). Please be ready to share with me what coverage of texts you plan for your lead night. If you are working with a partner, please confer about this.
- Howard Rheingold will be joining us for about 30-45 mins for the latter part of class (via Skype) on the evening of February 10 (the week after next). We should decide what we want to talk to him about. Let’s discuss this in person and make a thoughtful plan for our time with him.
- We should begin our discussion of a final class project. This will be an ongoing negotiation for a few more weeks, but we should at least get some ideas started regarding what you would like to do as a culminating project for the course.
Your to do list for next class:
1. Send me your Contract Grade email with the grade you will be earning this semester. I need a formal record of the contract from everyone.
2. Post and tweet (to #NewMediaStudies) your BLOG #1. Your blog post should consider the readings for the week (listed above). You do not need to address every aspect of all the readings. Rather, write a thoughtful response based on some aspect of your synthesis of the readings. Some of you might choose to highlight something specific, others might want to reflect as a broad overview. I look forward to reading a variety of different takes/angles.
3. Before class, check out your classmates first blog (under Student Blogs). Surfing through your classmates posts will certainly enrich our discussions and understanding.
See you next week everyone!