The revolution is here. Now what?

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The open access & networking capability of the web is amazing. I realize this sometimes when I actually think about it. Like all other great advances in technology it has major implications. We’re more open and free than ever before to share and solicit ideas, and at the same time being under the greatest amount of surveillance and data mining than ever before. Considering the technology itself, how we use it, and how organizations or governments determine it to be used make the possibilities endless! I, for one, have enjoyed the awesome mobility for information sharing & new ways to work on more creative output. After all, it’s what allowed Liberation Redux to begin.

There was a dry patch, but I’ve recently revisited indulging my “free” time in mobile apps. This has especially become advantageous for me as I continue to consider the vast world of an open source society, coupled with my endeavors in instructional design. Basically I have a sincere intrigue in how we think and learn. The other day I was reading an article by Marc Prensky, a reading from the first MOOC (massive open online course) I’m trying out. A Basic idea he presented was that the changing landscape and tools available to us allows the way we think and learn to change. The implications of this idea are interesting to me – not only because theories or practices derived from it would apply to my work as a designer of instruction, but also because I see how it is related to effects of my activities in mobile music, along with the fact that implications on my children & generations to come could be important to consider (that goes without saying that I, like everyone else, believe the education & learning of people is a critical concern to our society in general – & our institutionalized educational systems I’ll, in a nice way say, has opportunity for MEGA improvement). Of course, there’s many arguments to this idea of restructured thinking, as there hasn’t been much “sound” research to base it on.

I walked away with an ‘anything can happen’ degree in Mass Communication having been convinced (not by my professors, but my own judgements from research presented) that we are indeed affected by what we watch & see. Yes, this includes media. I think it has the critical power (not all power) in forming perspectives & ideas, individually & socially – in the ecology of us, as it surrounds our daily lives. Not necessarily that watching violence literally makes us violent – but, on a level I think it can effect the way we see the world, ourselves and each other. It’s proven that kids learn and form opinions not only from “doing” but also from watching us & the world. The tools or delivery systems (to avoid using the word “technology” the taboo my first professor ingrained in me, as technology is simply processes not media/delivery tools) we use are very different from the ideas & stories we watch (.. Or are they?); but even more so by them being more visceral, I would think, in the manipulation & consumption of information. So, can it effect us on another level? This “processing of information” level… & does that even matter? Well, for me as I want to help individuals learn in the most effective ways by designing & presenting the most engaging learning materials for them possible, it does.

As Prensky put it, “These operating systems are affecting our ‘operating system’… Today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors.” Although this statement is not based on sound research it does hint towards Dr. Bruce D. Perry’s (of Baylor College of Medicine) statement that “Different kinds of experiences lead to different brain structures.” So maybe not only are different generations receiving different or new information & ideas in media, they also are processing that information differently as the media tools/delivery systems & the ways in which they engage with info is changing.

I’m thinking this may lead to Prensky’s coining of today’s youth as ‘digital natives’. I’ve read arguments to this idea by a few from older generations who are indeed very tech savvy, and may have taken offense to such ideas. However, I wasn’t interpreting it to infer that younger generations are smarter or better within technology – but that those who spend more time with such tools or have considerable more comfort with them would apply to this idea of digital natives. It doesn’t have to be an age thing (but in most cases may be a commonality). I feel like I’ve experienced this on a small level: The first year of my Master’s program I started researching & consolidating information online and writing out research papers & my own reflections… and I noticed there was a shift in the way I sought & processed information. In my efforts I learned to do it faster & I began to break out segments of information in “chunks” like I had not done before. If in this the way I processed information changed after taking in information differently, I think I can begin to consider the implications this might have on generations as the way we consume information (on a wide level) continues to change with the given tools.

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So, maybe I can understand how the way we connect, communicate, and exchange information could be pulling us towards a more of a term you may have heard by now, ‘networked individualism’; which I understand to be (correct me if I’m wrong) a more person focused & less family/unit/social group focused mentality or dependency – self-directed engagement in more loosely structured temporary networks – a person being at the center of their own “universe”. So these delivery methods could actually be affecting the way we organize and structure information internally, & ultimately the way we communicate to those around us.

So, I wonder about the idea that we are becoming more segmented among numerous groups; more reliant on ourselves than dependent on our ‘group’.

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The possibilities this leads to are vast – more creative information sharing and collaboration across the world via a multitude of networks. Yet still lingering in the back of my mind, beyond the technology & tools and how they will be used, I struggle with another part of the ecosystem. If there is more of a networked individualism and less identification with social control of groups/family/etc. where does the social control lie? Now, maybe that’s just a matter of social determination factors…. Who will this technology serve the most?

– Allyson
Liberation Redux

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