Chapter 1: Ten Truths about Technology
Listen to Lindy West’s This American Life podcast segment on trolls (“If you don’t have anything nice to say…”). What is it about posting online that allows individuals to feel comfortable with being rude and hurtful to others? Jimmy Kimmel has a popular segment on his late night show featuring celebrities reading the “mean tweets” they receive. Reflect on your own experience with social media.What is your reaction to Lindy West’s story about the pain she felt when an anonymous person trashed her father’s memory through online comments? Most of us don’t have the opportunity to interact one-on-one with online trolls to the point that they come to understand their actions and apologize. What should we do when we receive negative comments from those who don’t know us and use a fictitious identity? Do we turn away from social media altogether? Do we ignore it? Do we respond in some way?
During emergencies and other events (like weather), information travels quickly through social media. Consider the impact of this on us, pro and con. For perspective, consider events that happened before rapid social technology was available — 9/11, election news, natural disasters (like hurricanes), or threats of nuclear disaster (such as during the Cold War). What value is there to the speed of this information being shared? What are the consequences?
Kevin Kelly is a cofounder of Wired magazine and a philosopher about technology. Listen to his podcast interview on On Being, “The universe is a question,” and reflect on his thoughts about how we view our ability to shape the character of technology.
In 2014, Pew Research published Digital Life in 2025. Scan through the report to read the hopeful and less hopeful predictions by experts. Reflect on our collective experiences during COVID-19 (obviously an event not known to these experts). Consider that 2025 is not that far in the future. How would you assess the predictions? Will they happen? Are they happening? What will or could they mean to family life? To society?
Listen to the podcast episode of Hidden Brain on the social media scandal at Harvard discussed in the chapter.What is your reaction to the response and to the ultimate decision related to a student’s admission decision? Was it fair, given our current social media climate? Consider our class discussion about our individual use of technology and it’s additional impacts on others, and how our use is heavily influenced by others’ expectations of us.
Reflect on the ways in which your ICT use shifted (if at all) during COVID-19. For most of us, the time of quarantine between March 2020 and June 2021 had significant influence on our lives and our use of technology. What was good about this time, relative to your technology behavior? What are you not as happy with? From the perspective of the time in which you’re reading this, did your shifts in technology use during COVID-19 continue?Here’s an example. In May 2020, the author saw family educators post questions about integrating technology on Facebook. She offered to hold a Zoom session for people to gather and share ideas. The meetings were such a success that they have continued for well over two years, becoming a regular weekly meeting open to any family educator wanting to talk about practice. This is a simple change brought about by COVID-19 that has remained.
During COVID-19, many in-person classes shifted to videoconferencing (usually Zoom). Consider a traditional class, whether a lecture, a mixture of lecture and discussion, active learning, or laboratory work. Is videoconferencing a good substitute? Consider the effectiveness of videoconferencing for learning, compared with in-person learning. What does videoconferencing instead of coming to class mean to you as a student? How does it affect your own use of technology, in classrooms and elsewhere, to support your learning? When is it efficient? When might it be costly due to its power to distract or to other negative impacts?