HOW THE INTERNET HAS INFLUENCED THE AVERAGE COLLEGE STUDENT   Leave a comment

ABSTRACT

I put together a set a of questions inspired by several journals on the “digital native”. This concept has been discussed heavily in our class and I wanted to take a step in a different direction. This desire to diverge was born of the questions I asked myself as I researched the topic. Are we truly more intuitive, do we really understand how the technology works, and what effect does advertising have on our technological intelligence? After developing a survey, I interviewed several students of Temple University with different majors and backgrounds to see if there is some sort of ubiquity amongst my peers in the discussion of how we view technology.

ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH THE TERM “DIGITAL NATIVE”? IF SO, DOES IT SEEM LIKE A VALID CONCEPT?

When students were asked about what a digital native was, most were unfamiliar with the term, but when the definition was given to the subject, they immediately agreed. Just to clarify, when I say digital native, I am using the definition used by Sue Bennet and Karl Maton as “a generation of tech-savvy young people immersed in digital technology…”. This statement seemed to resonate with most interviewees, to the point of utter certainty.

This certainty is exactly what I seek to unfold, to try and see if we truly are better equipped to handle the complexities of technology, or are we just being told that we are.

DOES THE INTERNET ACT AS A TOOL OF LEARNING, OR DO YOU FIND IT BEING  MORE OF A DISTRACTION?

This question was often met by a chuckle followed by a vote for distraction. Most had afterthoughts saying that it’s a truly infinite tool for learning, but the amount of content meant to pass time and entertain was overbearingly more appetizing. This consensus made me think about the reasons we use the Internet, the reasons we’ve become so intertwined with the digital terrain that is the World Wide Web.

As companies rack in more and more cash from the limitless void of the Internet, the more crowded it feels, the more bombastic advertisements become, and the more distracting it really is. There are plenty of educational advantages to contemporary multi-media styles of self-education that one is at the disposal of, but whether or not we use it is a different story. Regardless, one cannot ignore that  the information highway can be used to acquire knowledge on most anything, but what are the motives for this acquisition, and are they truly in the pursuit of intellectual satisfaction?

HAVE YOU, OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW, EVER USED A SMARTPHONE TO WIN AN ARGUMENT?

There has been a recent phenomenon born of the new generation of cell phone technology that enables one to end an argument in one exchange, (“yeah, well I just looked it up and Wikipedia says that Steve Jobs did work for Microsoft”). This style of argument is becoming increasingly popular within the body of my peers. This in effect may increase the general knowledge of any one person, but with information being so readily available, what damage is done to retention? If one can simply, from the palm of their hand, bring up virtually any resource and regurgitate it to win an argument, why would they need to remember their winning fact? If it was that simple to find it once, they could simply look it up again if they needed to. This is what is interesting to me about this ready-made style of information acquisition. It seems that instead of learning information and retaining it, we find it, discard when done, and move on without being changed. One might say that this improves research skills, that by searching for information, you get better at finding information. This statement may find an audience in agreement, but we can’t ignore that the technology does a large portion of the research for us, which brings us to our next question.

DO YOU THINK THAT “DIGITAL NATIVENESS” IS BEING CONFUSED WITH A MORE INTUITIVE TECHNOLOGY?

This was the question that really began to unravel some interviewees, making them take a step back and actually think about how reliant they are on technology with out having to put much effort into it. All one really has to do is type their question into Google and take a look at the first website that comes up. We can drag and drop any file, easily upload any video, and effortlessly create a hosted website, all without knowing how it actually works. It seems that one can be tied up in using new technologies and utilizing them to their full extent without having to know how their inner workings. With every leap made by the technological industries, programs becoming easier to use, operating software becoming more sophisticated, there is a pulling of the wool over the user’s eyes. We believe that since we can use it well, we must be naturally more in tune with it, when in fact it’s simply designed to make us think that. A quick anecdote to further explain what I mean; two of my roommates are sitting across from each other at the kitchen table. Without communicating with each other, they searched the same topic. As soon as there was a question asked about the content not answered by the current web page they were on, they both left and entered the infinite expanse of the internet to further their knowledge. The part that was interesting to me was that they both went to the same website, without telling one another what they were doing. This happened three more times. My point is that the internet, and the technology we use to create and browse it, is ever growing and rich with content, and out of all the millions of websites, two students sat down and traveled the same exact path to an answer. I feel that this is a prime example of how we are in fact not Digital Natives, we still can’t process the expanse of the web, even with infinite possibilities, we are still too simple to use them all.

I CAN USE IT, BUT I CAN’T FIX IT

This was a statement made by a subject that truly caught my attention. After asking him if he thought he was well versed in the use of technology, he said yes, paused, and then thought about all the other aspects of technology that most don’t pay mind to. I think that the reliance we have fostered becomes an issue when technology malfunctions. It is at this point that the confidence in our abilities becomes challenged, and for many of us, conquered.

This brings us back to the idea of a digital native, and where I personally come to the conclusion that we are not different from generations before us, it’s the technology. Also, in addition to the machines being more intelligently designed fooling us into thinking we know what we’re doing, we’re also boasted by advertisers telling us we know what we’re talking about.

THE INFLUENCE OF ADVERTISEMENTS IN OUR DIGITAL COMPETENCE 

Advertisements for technology push us to become tech-savvy, pressuring user’s to stay up to date and convincing them that they “need it”. Below are several commercials depicting the ever-growing benefits to technology ownership.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwyJKKWiqpQ

Now if we take a step back to think about how these might influence us and incite a sense of duty to use, we might be able to see a connection between these ads and our attachment to technology.

In the first ad, we see two young gentlemen in a sky lift discussing the availability of the bearded man’s ex-girlfriend. Using the five critical questions system, I will analyze this commercial and break down what I think it’s communicating and how it becomes pertinent in the topic at hand.

first lets take a look at the author, who is Cingular (or rather, the ad company Cingular hired) and their purpose is to sell cell phones. There is a technique being used to show the advantages of having their phone, and it is the ability to get a lady. Even better than that, how to get your friends ex lady, sort of an alpha male fantasy. Different people will interpret this message differently, some may not agree with the un-bearded man’s antics and view him as an asshole, or some might watch it and think him clever and resourceful. Women may watch this and be offended by the seemingly cold heartedness of the woman (who is never shown) for getting with her ex’s friend. At the end of the commercial though, the bearded character reacts out of jealously and chucks the phone off the lift and onto the mountain. This display of jealousy comes across as not only about the girl, but about the phone as well.

Now although this commercial does not specifically pressure you into using new technology, it does present the phone in a way that seems beneficial and makes you worthy of envy. This sentiment is what drives people to desire new technology, the fear of being left behind, having to watch others get what they want while you’re stuck in the past. It’s not hard to believe that it’s this kind of influence that fuels our interest in new technology.

In the second commercial, authored by Verizon, we see a Mom looking at tablets when the sales representative asks her if she needs help. Before she can answer, her young son comes from behind her and begins drilling the sales representative in an intelligent manner, to which the response are prompt and confident. While this banter is going on, the mom is silently observing. This commercial definitely creates a feeling of an age gap that may exist between generations. The young boy and the sales rep are snappy and bright while the mother is lost and ill informed (at least one can assume she’s ill informed).

The importance of this commercial to my argument is that it shows first hand the image of being a digital native, and perhaps it’s advertisements like this that make my generation feel more apt then they really are. I’m only speaking from personal experience, but I’ve never encountered a child of that age who was so well versed, not only in technology, but in debate as well. The hyperbole is overlooked however, because we are made to believe that kids know technology better than their parents and that we are digitally native.

WILL TECHNOLOGY AFFECT THE PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS OF THE GENERATIONS AFTER US?

When interviewees were asked this question, most said that it would with conviction. The subjects seemed very confident that technology will in deed negatively affect the problem solving skills of generations below us. When I asked why they thought that, most respondents went into personal anecdotes about their own struggles with solving problems. The easier it become to find things, as oppose to figuring things out, the more deteriorated our problem solving skills become. Instead of figuring out how to fix a clog in your sink, you can simply look up a video or instruction manuel to guide you. The internet has become a massive crutch that is making it harder and harder for us to  use our own intuition to figure out how things work. In class during my presentation, Professor Hobbs expressed her feelings on the matter, a sort of aligning opinion that furthers my point. She spoke of being a cashier in her youth and having to punch in every price by hand and physically add them, which was a practice that built her capabilities to perform her job without the cash register if necessary. She then went on to say that with the implementation of the bar code scanner, cashier’s do not do anything but hold the product of the red light for a second. She said, and I’ve seen it too, that when the cashiers are asked to do the math without the hold of the register, they freeze up and stress out, as if addition was a difficult concept. There are other examples of this that we encounter on a daily basis, I’m sure that one would be able to think of a time when a person who was reliant on technology was asked to perform a task without it and struggled. My bleak conclusion is that this trend is here to stay, because as more and more technologies are aimed at children, the more reliant they will become at a younger age.

CONCLUSION

The more I research this concept of digital native, the more I find myself not buying it. Its definitely an interesting theory, but from my interviews, I can see no evidence that it really exists. I believe that there is an accepted falsehood that young kids are more in tune with technology and understand it naturally. This misconception is due partly to the way we’re advertised to, pressured to buy technology, so in turn, we learn to use technology. Our attitude as consumer’s then affects our attitude as users, being fooled into thinking you understand how it works because you can use it, but in reality it’s just easy to use. And this ease of use is negatively affecting our problem solving skills and the trends suggest that its not going to change soon. Digital Natives may exist one day, in fact it doesn’t seem totally improbable the more interconnected we become with technology, but as of right now it’s still just a theory.

RESOURCES:

Verizon commercial uploaded by  on Jun 2, 2011

Cingular commercial uploaded by  on Feb 6, 2011

Beyond the “Digital Natives” Debate: Towards a More Nuanced Understanding of Students’ Technology Experiences. Bennett, S. ; Maton, K. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, v26 n5 p321-331 Oct 2010. 11 pp.

Exploring the “Digital Disconnect” between Net-Savvy Students and Their Schools. Selwyn, Neil, Learning, Media & Technology, v31 n1 p5-17 Mar 2006. 13 pp.

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Posted December 6, 2011 by scottiscoolstitzer in Uncategorized

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Posted December 5, 2011 by scottiscoolstitzer in Uncategorized

Blackberry Commercial   Leave a comment

Posted December 5, 2011 by scottiscoolstitzer in Uncategorized

NOTORIOUS B.I.G. Chloe Westman, Seth Phillips, Scott Stitzer   Leave a comment

1. Notorious BIG (Christopher Wallace) aka Biggie Smalls, the name itself brings to mind many different images and ideas that were associated with his life and career. From 1993 to 1997 he was an icon representing the “gangster rap” scene, with songs about drugs, women, and violence. he often spoke of himself as a wealthy individual, getting his money through “the game”. Biggie was also considered to be the king of rap at that time, hailing from the east coast, and more specifically, Brooklyn New York.

Below is one of the most iconic images of Biggie, him wearing a crown to the side, like a true G.  This image represents his regal life style, bottom lip stuck out like he “doesn’t give a fuck” about how rich he is. It oozes self confidence but at the same time containing an air of humility, like, “yeah, I know”.  The crown also represents how he was considered the “king” of east coast hip hop. The author is the photographer and the purpose was most likely promotional–trying to portray Biggie in a way that he and his fans viewed himself.

Below this text is a picture that uses the original above to make commentary on Biggie’s image. As mentioned above, Biggie was from Brooklyn, an east coast American city, and his tie to this city and side of the country was what ultimately led to his demise. the picture below omits the clarity of the original, almost bringing you away from the man and brings to the front what he stood for, and right below this clouded image is “Brooklyn”, where he stood his ground. This picture is reminiscent of his career, what he did, and where he was from.

The stylized image draws on contemporary design fads while also being reminiscent of the era in which Biggie was popular, the early and mid 1990’s. Therefore it draws on nostalgia for the era while making it seem “hip” for today’s generation. The design was created for a t shirt, so the purpose was likely an effort to capitalize on a classic image to sell t-shirts while still paying homage to the artist.

Posted November 1, 2011 by scottiscoolstitzer in Uncategorized

RESEARCH: The Ethics of Hacking   1 comment

I went to the library to search for four great resources dealing with the issue of ethics in hacking. My resources were to be as follows; a book, a video, an academic journal, and a website.

The book that I came across almost immediately was entitled The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing. Although it was only available on line, so I didn’t get the gratification of physically flipping through the pages, the information was just as enlightening and purposeful. The book talked about hacking in general, mostly on the instructional side, but throughout the text, the author reminds the reader of the ethics on which you can hack, ensuring that he’s giving bombs to troops, not terrorists.(call number: QA76.9.A25 E5443 2010 eb)

The second source I took a look at was a video uploaded to youtube only a couple months ago, and this video is simply a bootleg taping of a discussion led by Frontline dealing with hacking in journalism. This aspect is very interesting because it seems to be a very brand new topic of discussion. There are ten parts to the video, each one being almost ten minutes long, which leads me to believe there is a lot to be discussed on the topic. This angle would perhaps lead me into a more specific thesis, to narrow hacking ethics down into a fine focused point surrounded by journalism and the impacts the field has gone through with the evolution technology and the ethics that are involved in that.(URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzvM5BFkJFU)

The third source I looked at was a journal article written by James Stephenson called Ethics and Morality in Software Development. The journal was presented as an observation of programming and the ethics that programmers deal with. The thesis was to see if programming is a business were morality is present in the development and execution of new programs. If ethics are absent, should they be addressed and why. This article struck me because to deal with the ethics of hacking, it would be beneficial to start at the beginning of any hack, software.(call number:ED522510)

The fourth and last source I found was a website funded by the North Carolina State University all on the ethics of technology, with an entire section devoted to hacking. This website was too obviously going to benefit me and my research. The layout of the site was also very intriguing, it was set up intuitively with academic sources backing up all the content. (URL: ethics.csc.ncsu.edu/abuse/hacking/)

Posted October 14, 2011 by scottiscoolstitzer in Uncategorized

Five Critical Questions: Deciphering Youtube Poop   1 comment

What we have here is piece of media commonly referred to as “youtube poop”, a video that is blatantly pointless. My attempts at critically analyzing this video may end in defeat, mainly because it’s designed to lack all critical value. But within it lies a cultural ideal held by the youth that has grown up with technology, culture that doesn’t see technology as something that could progress communication and press boundaries, but a virtual hangout spot, somewhere where they can fuck around.

The author of this video is  Pavel Jaroslav, A common ‘youtuber’. His video has 61,056 views (the video of Obama’s most recent speech has only 46,312 views) which leads me to believe that there’s something here. The technique is simple, a ten minute video of the same three second clip. The video is so contradictory to most of the media we see on a daily basis that it’s almost refreshing. Something equally intriguing about this video is it’s contextual-less-ness, everything is omitted. The video is valueless, which in itself is a value. Most media is made for consumers, getting you to buy whatever they’re selling, whereas this just ‘is’.

This video has a threshold effect, a tolerance that affects interpretation. The content is initially funny, but after the loop repeats two or three times, most will move on. Some will watch all ten minutes and laugh the whole time, other’s will go to the middle to see if it really does just stay the same, expressing impatience, while others become infuriated. If the message is “I have nothing to say”, then the reactions seem to fit, as if it were just saying that a thousand times. The video wants to say nothing, and in the process, gives a virtual hang out for those who want to hear nothing. In our age of technology, emphasis is placed upon graveness, we’re told to take things seriously, youtube is being used in the classroom now, facebook is being analyzed by academics and social psychologists, the internet is under the microscope, defining our lives with every new break through… and then there’s this video.

Posted September 21, 2011 by scottiscoolstitzer in Uncategorized

The Future of Information   1 comment

This is my third year in college, my sixteenth  year in the American Schooling system, and my twentieth year of life, and through all of these years of change, growth, and matriculation, I’ve stumbled upon one important personal finding, school sucks. In fact, it wasn’t until this year that I decided to take school seriously, which leads me to believe that I wasted nearly half my life sitting in classrooms “not giving a fuck”. My apathy towards the school system was one that seemed innate, something I couldn’t quite explain, a natural dissent against authority and callous disposition to what adults told me was important. In retrospect, I must admit that I cheated myself, but the things I lost weren’t knowledge, discipline, or academic stature, I lost out on the ability to respond to education’s biggest question, “what are you going to do with your life?”. For a while I was blissfully lost in my own self indulgent endeavors, paying school no mind, seeing it as an inconvenience rather than a tool for personal improvement. I ask rhetorically, am I alone, am I the only student in the system who feels this way? Of course not, in fact, just through personal experience, I can say that I’m in the majority of my generation, and perhaps generations before me. School has always had a tint of tension between the educator and the pupil, mainly due to the fact that, as a student, you are asked to blindly follow a curriculum of what someone else (someone you’ll never ever meet most likely) thinks is important. To make my point even broader, I’ve come in contact with several academic instructors who feel very similar, they question the material they are told to teach. With this as an introduction, I’d like to move on to the connection between this existing feeling in American education and the future of information.

While reading an essay written on the works of Marshall McLuhan, I came to agree with many of the points brought to light in his body of literature. McLuhan was a proponent for new media and it’s many exciting possibilities, and probably more accurate, the short comings of old media. McLuhan had written pieces on the advantages of television versus printed media, the possibility of creatively presenting academic ideas and print media being outdated and archaic (not to mention a tool to control the public). These sentiments presented have only grown since his death in 1980, especially with the incredible affordability of computers and nearly limitless access to the internet. Print media, along with lecture driven education, has become so obsolete that children are choosing to learn on their own, and learn what they want to learn. This idea is one that has never consciously crossed my mind until very recently, but has always defined the things I knew. Instead of having to go to school or the library or an adult, I could take the initiative to learn on my own anywhere I want. This manner in which I, and most of my peers, have become self learned has made education a dinosaur that trumps our creativity and interests, in effect becoming an enemy to individuality.

With education as the enemy, I am a soldier armed with the ever expansive and expanding virtual universe called the internet, and I’m not alone. McLuhan had an idea that mediums control our attention, something I very much agree with, and with that being said, the more personal the medium, the more attentive we are to ourselves and own personal agenda, rather than subscribing to what NBC or Random House Publishing has to say. There is a growing faction of students against school, and the tension is thick, begging for change. I can honestly say that things seem to be changing, slowly, but still changing. I have high hopes for the future as my generation takes the wheel, because we are all so self learned and able to support our appetite for whatever it is that interests us. McLuhan saw print media as outdated in the sixties, it is now the start of a new millennium, one with the most exciting, fast paced, and life altering discoveries and inventions man kind has seen yet. Man will move forward, whether education will follows us or not.

Posted September 8, 2011 by scottiscoolstitzer in Uncategorized