Monthly Archives: March 2014

Technology & Society: An Equal Relationship?

A common mistake that theorist and post structuralist make, Richard Grusin says, is ascribing agency to technology and electronic writing itself. The assumption that technology is the actor, ad we are just obstacles in the way of its progress, also know as the diffusion model, is one Grusin disagrees with. Ultimately, we can’t forget that we are the ones who disseminate the knowledge and cultural connections of technology. We are the ones who create technology, and without people to propagate the usage of new technology, technology wouldn’t be able to act on it’s own. This is an idea that Grusin reminds the theorist who believe in the prior technical fallacy to remember.

The use of electronic writing in the 21st century accomplishes great feats. It connects us through social media, links, and the idea of hypertexts adds layers to text that allows the reader to explore different avenue of ideas, knowledge, and work. Grusin says that electronic writing is remarkable, because of its capability to connect. He says in his essay, “What is an Electronic Author? Theory and the Technological Fallacy,” “I am confident that we will begin to realize that what finally makes electronic writing so remarkable is not its immateriality but rather its power to marshal such a diversity of material, cultural, and technological forces” (53). The harboring of ideas is one that has been promoted in schools, businesses, and any organization on the fringe of growth. While technology is rapidly progressing, one would think that the benefits of technology, in the form of knowledge, would benefit the majority. But unfortunately that is not the case.

Even with the innovations in technology that infiltrate the classrooms, education is still not equal. This is one of the ideas that Richard Grusin touches on in his essay. It is also the concern that piqued my interest the most. He explains how Landow, an enthusiast for electronic writing in education, believes that education will be enhanced by technology, because it will create new types of students. Students not reliant on outdated textbook and limited by the confinements of a classroom. He says with innovations like interactive video and text programs and electronic text books, new “self directed” students will emerge. While this idea is splendid, and it is a dream for the progression of education, Grusin makes a point in stating that we can not look over the fact that education is not democratizing. It is unequal, because there are people who don’t have the resources to make their classroom technologically savvy. That being said, I can first handily see the consequences of thinking that education is equal all around.

I come from an urban high school that was no where near as financed as the surrounding suburban schools. It was small, and it did not have iPads or laptops for its students, the school had about 50-80 computers for 300 students, there was an intercom that worked when it wanted, and the wifi was not accessible to students. This caused a disparity between the academic success of my peers, and students from schools that were well resourced. Even with the macs and smart boards we did have, we still weren’t as academically rigorous or innovative as other local schools. This leads me to a concern that Grusin mentioned that Landow had: institutions aren’t as concerned with pedagogy as they should. Landow stated some institutes are more concerned with prestige. Yes, this is one reason why the process of teaching wouldn’t be a main focus, but in my case, my school was more concerned about not being shut down, and simply surviving. Either way, schools can not democratize education with technology until they are equal in all senses. Furthermore we can’t place all of the weight on technology when we are an integral part in the process, as Grusin states.

Technology and electronic writing are powerful tools, Grusin makes that clear. So while it would seem we are the obstacle of technology, that is not the case. I believe technology and people are interconnected in a sort of check and balance. We create the technology, we are the ones that spread its usage, and we are now becoming the ones to make sure everyone has access to it. Instead of assuming technology is its own agent, and we are only made apparent when there is an issue with it. We must remember we are the ones to propagate technology, and if we truly want to make an equal field for students and citizens to emerge themselves in we have to take responsibility of the technology we create instead of putting all of the weight onto technology itself.

Food for Thought: Blog followers, what do you think? Do you think that we blame technology for issues we may have? Or overly praise it for the success we have? A good starting point for answering this is to look at the stigmas around social media, technology, and the youth. I know the generation of my parents (40s-50s) love to say that the reason why some youth “act up” or are disconnected from moral values is because of the ideas propagated on TV, Facebook, and youtube. While they may have a valid concern, shouldn’t we look at the real root of the problem. The people who post and create these things? The ones who share and promote such behavior, and utilize technology, and the network of electronic writing for their benefit?

Link to Grusin’s essay: https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/configurations/v002/2.3grusin.html

 

And here is a funny, but real, comic of equality in America.

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