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01/23/2006 Archived Entry: "More From the World of Education and the Net"

More From the World of Education and the Net

Clueless Watch: Again from The Chronicle. This time the topic is Facebook:

Some less-drastic measures include clauses in syllabi warning against using Facebook or other nonassigned Internet sites during class. Some professors punish students who violate such rules and reward those who visit the library. Still others have stopped using technology in the classroom, forcing students to listen, debate, and otherwise hone their interpersonal skills.

Right. Library is not a piece of technology too. And it is holy! Worship in it! It has. . . .BOOKS! Books can do no wrong! They develop interpersonal skills! Huh? The thing that invented privacy and individual reading? Huh?

And more wonderful bits of wisdom:

My preference is not to block content but to instill in students what I call "interpersonal intelligence," or the ability to discern when, where, and for what purpose technology may be appropriate or inappropriate.

That, alas, requires critical thinking and suggests that we have reached a point where we must make hard decisions about our investment in technology and our tradition of high standards. Because the students already have.


Commonsense! Teach commensense! Dang. Revolutionary conclusions again. Now back to that critical thinking thing...oh dear Iowa State Professor of Journalism and Communication: Are you sure this little piece of yours is chock full of critical thinking? Are you really sure? Look again.

Replies: 11 comments

Over at Ghost, I've posted a quick excerpt from the paper regarding the term technostalgia, for those interested. The argument emerges from a longer project about the role that spirits and specters play in the treatment of media, especially attempts made to separate mediation (as tekhne) from thinking or knowing (as episteme), and in the context of this argument I'm trying to work through Heidegger's spiritual celebration of orality and his caustic dismissal of the technology of radio, a move that confounds a lot of what Heidegger acknowledges about the technics of speaking and the nature of technology. Anyway, long story short, that's the context, and since I realize I didn't offer much in terms of explanation, I thought I'd supply a bit more substance. For what that's worth.

Posted by Kenneth Rufo @ 01/24/2006 04:45 PM EST

You also write books that go to libraries. Me? I go to books and read libraries.

Posted by Doc Mara @ 01/24/2006 04:31 PM EST

I think that we can play with cudgels like "books," and "libraries"

Of course. I read books and go to the library all the time.

Posted by jeff @ 01/24/2006 02:14 PM EST

"troping" Don't put THAT word in the h-rhetor listserv! (I think that the biannually-asked "is synecdoche a trope or a metaphor" question is my favorite one of all)

Groping towards meaning vs. troping towards meaning. I see a lawsuit in there somewhere.

Yeah, I don't like foreclosure on this stuff. I think that we can use that "sacredness" (or "holiness") of libraries to our advantage, even IF or BECAUSE our fellow academics wave it around like a club. I like the way SCAD buys up old buildings in downtown Savannah (ghost-saturated places, all) and then fills them with the weird and open-ended projects of young artists (taking the phantasmagoric stuff in Real Cities more seriously with an eye towards the sacred).

Bugeja is pretty prosiac in his "defense" of useful reading practices, and I buy your argument over his. Still, I think that we can play with cudgels like "books," and "libraries" (cover them in feathers).

Yeah, I know you are making pretty much the same argument. I just wonder if we can spin libraries into something more useful/interesting.

Posted by Doc Mara @ 01/24/2006 11:45 AM EST

Hi Andrew
Yes, the point is not to reject the library (I don't) but the over-emphasis on the library (or whatever tool) as holy.
Same with keywords. I'm not against Democracy or community per se, but I have trouble with the troping of the keyword without any substance behind it or for the mere sake of troping. Community may be an admirable goal, but does it have to always be the goal? I'm not convinced that it - like making the Web always a democratic space - has to be the goal. It can be - and probably should be - depending on context.

"then what ARE our goals in getting people to write?"

Aha! Well, I guess that is what we are trying to still figure out (we meanng you, me, friends linked to on the sidebar and so on..). Maybe the question should be left open for our play, experimentations, inventions of new practices, etc.

Posted by jeff @ 01/24/2006 11:14 AM EST

the library, in its current incarnation with massive virtual resources, is not just about books. it's the headspace of the library that's important - a sanctuary where deliberation and quiet should prevail. students need to be able to NAVIGATE library holdings, adjudicate sources and uses those sources to build their own arguments.

the web is a frightful and frightening place if you don't have the ability to take raw data (or raw sewage for that matter) and tranform it into knowledge through critical thinking and reflection.

Posted by bookish and battered @ 01/24/2006 11:10 AM EST

Technostalgia (love that term) is oddly selective: for example, here Bugeja readily venerates books, the library, f2f contact, but doesn't want to see Facebook as an update on slam books (even given the obvious pun) or similar things. I gotta think ideological pressures are important here....

Posted by cbd @ 01/24/2006 10:53 AM EST

I had a discussion with a colleague about another god-term: community. If "democracy" is not our goal, or community, for that matter, then what ARE our goals in getting people to write?

I think I get your critique (especially of the clumsy language), but what kinds of connections should we advocate for in our assigned spaces (the classroom, etc.)?

And the library, even if it CAN be used as a sound-bite is itself a type of social network that involves particular webs of ethical relateness and responsibility. I may be one of the curmudgeons you are pointing at (although I agree with Johndan's datacloud--seeing the possibilities of social networking through newer tech). Still, I think that working with students to construe the implications of their communicative choices is a pretty valuable thing. I think we can use social networks and technology to help experience these lessons, but the "musty parlor" of the library or other things like "books" CAN be pretty useful tools to show other possibilities, no?

Posted by Doc Mara @ 01/24/2006 09:28 AM EST

That's a great point: technonostalgia. Anoher side of this, at least what I'm thinking of right now, is the desire to conflate new technologies with specific key words. Civic. Democracy. An article on Yahoo in BusinessWeek,
quotes a Yahoo exec regarding Yahoo's entry into social software:
"Social search is about democratizing this power."
Really? I doubt it. Why does the Web have to be Democratic? Does it? And if it doesn't? Is it crap?

But even if social software does not create equal relationships, why make that claim? Maybe similiar reasons that Bugeja turns to the "truth" of the library. It's a nice sound bite. It gets us worked up. It doesn't mean much nor necessary apply in a given context or new innovation, but as in politics, who cares?

Posted by jeff @ 01/23/2006 04:50 PM EST

I'm constantly amazed at how it is that old technologies are deemed natural and new ones anethema to that natural order. I published a piece on Heidegger a while back that made the argument about his philosophical appreciation for the oral but his utter disdain for radio, and referred to it as technostalgia. Not a terribly original neologism, obviously, but it's the best term I can think of to describe this little "naturalization" oddity.

Posted by Kenneth Rufo @ 01/23/2006 04:39 PM EST

"oh dear Iowa State Professor of Journalism and Communication"

Is Bugeja at it again? Ah. I see that he is.

Posted by John @ 01/23/2006 11:44 AM EST

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