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The 23rd Thing

Take a few moments to reflect on your journey. You've covered a lot of material over the past ten weeks. What does it all mean? How has your thinking changed between Thing 1 and Thing 23? Has this program changed how you view the Internet or how view teaching in the digital world? What plans have you made for using these tools in and out of the classroom? How will you continue to learn about Web 2.0 tools? What are your big "take aways" from this experience?

What does it all mean she (they?)asks? Good question? This course, while useful for looking at, exploring, and sharpening skills related to Web 2.0 does not give the tools to answer that question.
Let me quote from Patick Deneen's article in the Summer 2008 issue of The New Atlantis (a journal that anyone who is concerned about contemporary technology and its meaning should be reading) entitled "Technology, Culture, and Virtue."

When we think of airplanes and iPods, computers and cell phones as the mark of the moment, we miss a deeper and truer point that distinguishes this age from those that preceded. Our current technological age is marked, above all, by the expansion of technologies that have increasingly, and quite purposively, undermined and destroyed culture. Our present age of technology is thus unique in that it directs our newest technologies against our oldest technology; it poses our technologies of novelty and rupture against the technology that sustains us.

And. . .
It has been during this short period of industrialization that most of our longstanding cultural forms have attenuated, faded, or gone wholly out of existence. Writing as a farmer, [Wendell] Berry has repeatedly lamented the decline of the family farm as a locus of human community and the embodiment of numberless forms of cultural knowledge and practices. But everywhere we see around us the ruins of once vibrant culture. Most of us know little or nothing of how to produce food. More and more of us cannot build, cannot fix, cannot track, cannot tell time by looking at the sky, cannot locate the constellations, cannot hunt, cannot skin or butcher, cannot cook, cannot can, cannot make wine, cannot play instruments (and if we can, often do not know the songs of our culture by which to entertain a variety of generations), cannot dance (that is, actual dances), cannot remember long passages of poetry, don't know the Bible, cannot spin or knit, cannot sew or darn, cannot chop wood or forage for mushrooms, cannot make a rock wall, cannot tell the kinds of trees by leaves or the kinds of birds by shape of wing--on and on, in a growing catalogue of abandoned inheritance.


Everyone knows that if you have a problem with a computer, you go to the youngest person in the family for advice about how to repair it: ancestral knowledge has been replaced by the constantly up-to-date. So, too, we professors are told that we need to adapt our teaching to the modern technologies used by our students, as if these won't in fact influence the teachings themselves.[My emphasis--SFM] If all technologies ultimately replace themselves with something else, we are living in a time when our technologies are replacing the original and essential human technology of culture. However, if culture is one of the preconditions for technology of all sorts that make us human, then we are employing technology in ways that increasingly dehumanize us. By destroying nature and culture, we ultimately destroy ourselves.

How has my thinking changed between Thing 1 and 23? I don't think it has changed at all on this subject. I still view all this through squinty, skeptical eyes (at the same time maintaining a blog and enjoying my iPod.) I think the point is, and not as the short film for this thing asserted, to hold fast to who we are, understand the value of education, and not "rethink family" or ourselves. The point is to carefully manage this "Stuff" for us and our students without becoming a tool of our tools. This requires vigilance, more vigilance, I fear than many participants in this project (probably even myself) are capable of. In fact, there still seems to be no acknowledgement of the power of this technology to change us in subtle and loud ways.

My plans? Well, I suppose I've increased my skillset. And with trepidation I will incorporate some of these things in my classroom, but only after reflection upon what they will do to me and my students, whose care I have been partially charged with.

Thank you for this opportunity to work and reflect. Have a patient Advent, a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a revealing Epiphany.


RESA 23Things said…
Congratulations on your completion of 23 Things. We've enjoyed reading your thoughts, contemplating your challenges, and thinking about these and other technologies from your perspective. Thanks for participating.
Anonymous said…
The Deneen article is very good and definitely worth reading.


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