Saturday, September 29, 2012

Connectivity and the digital world

"The tie that binds us to our ancestors is that both ancient and digital-age humans crave community and all the things that make community possible." (Isbout & Ohler, 2011) This was the quote I used to open my discussion post this week because the success of our technology lies in the social constructs of how we use it.  Animals of all sorts, especially humans, crave connectivity with their own. We are drawn to social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin because we can expand our social base, reconnect with old friends, and connect with new people who we share a common interest with. 

I found the discussion that followed my initial post fascinating.  Colleen Cleveland wrote, "I think we are still in the digital infancy of being able to connect to people solely through digital means." We have only begun to scratch the surface of what we are capable of and what our technology can do for us.  In the world of online learning there needs to be a balance between the digital native and the digital immigrant.  This was a question asked by Monica Helms.  The way our technology works we can still feel isolated even though we are connected digitally with people all over the globe, but by mixing in a physical component we connect with everyone and remain connected throughout the online process.

Marc Prensky call this generation Digital Natives, those who are born have and speak the language of the digital world. The digital native is not only used to processing, providing, and receiving information at an accelerated rate, but he/she is also an active participant with the information flow.  In 1999, Hollywood released a film, where mankind was "plugged-in" to the web; their world generated and projected by machines, blissfully unaware that what they were experiencing was a hoax.  This film was called the Matrix and as much as this was science fiction, how much fiction did it really contain?  Sure we are not "plugged-in" through ports hooked up to our head and machines do not control our lives, but we are active participants in the digital world.  We are more connected through technology than ever before, text instead of talk on the phone, talk to our televisions instead of watch it, and download an eBook instead of pulling an actual book off the shelf. 

Larry Taylor finished the discussion I mentioned earlier by suggesting, "our emerging digital platforms are simply bridges and conduit for building a relationship." Technology should not be used as a replacement for human connectivity, but instead we should use it as a bridge to connect us.   

Prensky, Marc. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon.

Ohler, Jason B. (2010). Digital community, digital citizen. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

Isbout, JP and Ohler, J. (2011) "From Aristotle to Augmented Reality," Chapter from The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology (Editor, Dill).