Oh The Horror, The Horror – A Day on Campus without Screens

Joshua Kim reports on what your day on campus might be like if you had access to no devices with screens – on laptop or desktop computer, no cell phone, no tablet. As Kurtz famously said at the end of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, “Oh the horror, the horror.”

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Vint Cerf Says Technology Should Be More Accessible

Vinton, “Vint,” Cerf is known as the “Father of the Internet.” He is also hearing-impaired, as is his wife. He says that computer interfaces and devices should be much more accessible, and that accessible features should not be an added afterthought. About 360,000,000 people worldwide have a hearing disability, and about one in three households in the US has a member who has a disability. I don’t think anyone could disagree with the idea that the Web and all our devices should be more accessible for people with disabilities. My personal pet peeve is the tiny type used on many websites and in printed materials.

The Danger of Addictive Technologies

In this post Joshua Kim reviews Adam Alter’s Book, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Alter writes about the dangers of consumer technologies. He is worried about the addictive potential of video games, websites, smartphones, and apps. Kim makes the point that when he was a kid, kids didn’t spend their times with their cell phones, because they didn’t have them, but spent their time glued to their television screens.

The Vanishing No-Digital Academic

A sort of amusing post from Joshua Kim. I know some teachers at my college who would like to use no digital technologies in their teaching and their daily lives. All of them to use email. Most of them type documents in Microsoft Word. A few of them still use overhead transparencies in the classroom instead of PowerPoint slides. We had one teacher I know of who was still playing cassette tapes in his classes just a few years ago. Every year it becomes hard to live a no-digital life.

The Rise and Fall of American Growth

In this post Joshua Kim reviews Robert J. Gordon’s new book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth. In the book Gordon questions the idea of a bright future based on technological progress. He compares the rise of American living standards between 1870 and 1970 with what has happened to them since 1970. He concludes that our economic growth going forward will pale compared to the earlier period. For one thing, living standards and the used of various technologies were very low in 1870. He says that developments such as the decline in infant mortality, the prevention of infectious diseases, and the rise of mass schooling are developments that can happen only once. Gordon discusses several factors that have slowed economic growth since 1970, such as rising inequality and crumbling infrastructure, poor schools, rising student debt, the decline of unionization, the erosion of marriage and children being brought up by both parents.

He points out that the incredible advances in digital technology since 1970, have a small footprint compared to earlier economic developments have a comparatively small footprint and have not resulted in huge increases in employment and that digital technologies do not do much to increase economic productivity (many would question this). He says that most of the people who benefit from technological advances are a fairly small group of highly educated and creative professionals.Gordon does not think that a lot of jobs will disappear in the future, but rather, many more low-paying jobs and a few high-paying jobs will be created. Joshua Kim feels that the advances in educational technology in the future will mainly benefit those who are already members of the privileged classes.
Personal Note: About 40% of Americans have a college degree. There are plenty of good jobs that don’t require a degree, but they all require specialized training. Our challenge in America is to make it possible for all Americans to get the education, and or training needed to staff all these jobs. We don’t want 30% of our citizens to have to work at fast food restaurants and convenience stores.

Learning in the Age of Digital Distraction

NPR reporter Eric Westervelt interviewed neurologist Adam Gazzely the co-author with Larry D. Rosen, of The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High Tech World. Dr. Gazzely says that our brains evolved mechanisms to forage for food, but now the same mechanisms in our brains have to forage for information. The authors also write about the distractions we have cope with that limit our attention span. They believe that is impossible to concentrate on one, thing, such as driving at car, while we are multitasking. I will put this book on my to read list. You can find out more about it on Amazon.com:

New Book Explores Digital Age Scholarship

This article is a review of Jessie Daniels and Polly Thistlethwaite’s new book, Being a Scholar in the Digital Era. Both the authors work of the City of New York University system. In the book they point out how today’s scholars have to live in two worlds: the world of the traditional mode of print-based scholarship and the scholarship of the digital age. They say the major shift in scholarship in this age is the search capabilities of modern search engines. 


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