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  • Clive 9:32 pm on June 24, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: articles,   

    Is Google making us stupid? – Atlantic Monthly 

    Is Google Making Us Stupid?

    As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s, media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.

    … Thanks to the ubiquity of text on the Internet, not to mention the popularity of text-messaging on cell phones, we may well be reading more today than we did in the 1970s or 1980s, when television was our medium of choice. But it’s a different kind of reading, and
    behind it lies a different kind of thinking—perhaps even a new sense of the self. “We are not only what we read,” says Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University and the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. “We are how we read.”

    …Never has a communications system played so many roles in our lives—or exerted such broad influence over our thoughts—as the Internet does today. Yet, for all that’s been written about the Net, there’s been little consideration of how, exactly, it’s reprogramming us. The Net’s intellectual ethic remains obscure.

    Most of the proprietors of the commercial Internet have a financial stake in collecting the crumbs of data we leave behind as we flit from link to link—the more crumbs, the better. The last thing these companies want is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated
    thought. It’s in their economic interest to drive us to distraction.

    …The kind of deep reading that a sequence of printed pages promotes is valuable not just for the knowledge we acquire from the author’s words but for the intellectual vibrations those words set off within our own minds. In the quiet spaces opened up by the sustained,
    undistracted reading of a book, or by any other act of contemplation, for that matter, we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas. Deep reading, as Maryanne Wolf argues, is indistinguishable from deep thinking.

    Link this to the research on screen reading and new book on search from catalogue (link).

  • Clive 9:52 am on October 18, 2007 Permalink |
    Tags: articles,   

    Downes on Facebook 

    Innovate: Places to Go: Facebook

    Stephen Downes reviews Facebook, one of the most widely popular of social networking sites that has emerged in recent years. In his review, Downes notes that Facebook is distinctive because its stronger roots in the academic community, and he proposes that the site’s varied and distinctive functions allow it to provide a very different model of how online tools can be used in eduational contexts. After outlining such functions in greater detail, Downes also addresses the redesign of Facebook to allow the use of external applications for posting content; he also reassesses the limitations that some have noted with regard to its “closed” structure—particularly the inability of users to export Facebook lists and other documents to other platforms or systems. Downes observes that the problem of finding an ideal balance between privacy and freedom is inevitable because of the site’s key features, and he concludes that its relatively closed structure may indeed have been the original purpose of the designers.

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  • Clive 11:18 am on October 5, 2007 Permalink |
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    The Benefits of Facebook ‘Friends’ 

    The Benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites

    Blackwell Synergy – J Comp Mediated Comm, Volume 12 Issue 4 Page 1143-1168, July 2007 (Full Text)

    This study examines the relationship between use of Facebook, a popular online social network site, and the formation and maintenance of social capital. In addition to assessing bonding and bridging social capital, we explore a dimension of social capital that assesses one’s ability to stay connected with members of a previously inhabited community, which we call maintained social capital. Regression analyses conducted on results from a survey of undergraduate students (N = 286) suggest a strong association between use of Facebook and the three types of social capital, with the strongest relationship being to bridging social capital. In addition, Facebook usage was found to interact with measures of psychological well-being, suggesting that it might provide greater benefits for users experiencing low self-esteem and low life satisfaction.

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  • Clive 12:41 pm on August 22, 2007 Permalink |
    Tags: articles,   

    Blogging and the emerging media ecosystem 


    It’s a truism that our communications environment is changing. It was ever thus: all ‘old’ media were new media once. But there is something special about our present situation at the beginning of the 21st century. The combination of digital convergence, personal computing and global networking seems to have ratcheted up the pace of development and is giving rise to radical shifts in the environment. Because we are living through this upheaval, it is difficult to take the long view of it. Our problem is not that we are short of data, or even of information; au contraire, we are awash with it, as companies and governments turn to consultants and market researchers for enlightenment or guidance. But the resulting glut of information doesn’t seem to be making us much wiser. Indeed our current state might be best described as one of ‘informed bewilderment’. Part of our difficulty is that we lack a discourse that is appropriate to what is happening. Traditionally, we have drawn linguistic and analytical tools from economics, and as a consequence seek to interpret what is going on through the prism of that dismal science. But economics – at least the economics on which we have relied to date – is the study of the allocation of scarce resources, whereas an important feature of our emerging media environment is abundance, not scarcity.

  • Clive 10:15 am on August 1, 2007 Permalink |
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    History of Blogging 

    A short history of blogging : The Blog Herald

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