Viewing posts for the category technology
Web development is an ever-shifting landscape. New frameworks and practices emerge, fresh approaches evolve, the ground shifts. And it shifts often: it wasn't so long ago that most of us were building static web pages using tools adapted from the world of word processing (I’m looking at you, Dreamweaver). Now we use content management systems such as Drupal and Wordpress, and we fiddle continually with many details of styling and functionality. We tweak, test, break, and rebuild. We try to figure out what snippets of PHP do, we tinker with CSS files, and we routinely find ourselves copying and pasting error messages into Google.
For many parents, the cultures of technology — gaming, social media, texting — seem foreign, strange, and uninviting. At the same time, our kids have transferred much of their interpersonal developmental into the online world, where parents don't see what's happening. For the first time in the history of humanity, young people are growing up in a world their parents don't understand. In turn, those parents — whose fundamental job is to guide their kids through the labyrinth of childhood and adolescence — have themselves been drawn into a world of digital distraction: smart phones, television recording devices, DVD players in the car. The cultures of technology have created their own gravity, and we are all pulled inexorably toward it.
The oldest extant works of human creativity are close to 100,000 years old (yes, I know, not everyone agrees about this — but just go with it). The artifacts of creativity can be remarkably persistent. Yet the past is littered with silent evidence, fragments and snatches of the stuff that was destroyed or misplaced: lost books, paintings, sculptures, cities. (Cities? Yes: the ancient city of Akhetaten was deconstructed brick by brick, during a religious squabble, and scattered across the desert.) Today we know a vanishingly small amount about what has been lost. Sure, we have some texts that describe or refer to lost items (say, Plato describing Atlantis); but we will never know anything about almost all of the creative artifacts of human culture. They are gone.
Technologies are cultures and not simply tools. Geeks, gamers, technophobes, phreaks, demosceners, nerds, hackers, cyberathletes, newbies, crackers: these terms and many others describe technological cultures that have evolved within the context of telephone, television, and computer technologies. Such cultures share both the positive and negative aspects common to cultures in general. Positive benefits include group identity and cohesion, collaborative activity, and interpersonal connection. Negative consequences include potential addiction, isolation, and diversion from self-care and relationships.
Social media, online technologies, mobile devices, and many other recent developments have transformed our social and educational landscape. Laptops and handhelds have replaced pads and pencils. The utility of digital text has surpassed that of the written word. Attention spans have shortened while cognitive plasticity has increased. In the midst of this sea-change, educators have tended to hunker down, freak out, and yearn for the good old days.