Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I'm Scared of Technology!

In my last post, I touched briefly on the reluctance of many to adapt to new technological advances.
As I have stated before, there are so many new technologies in our lives that help us to complete the simplest of tasks. In this day and age, I can do my grocery shopping online or even set timers in my home for my lights to come on automatically. I can go to the Campus Center at my school and order a sandwich right off of a computer, and it'll be ready for me in a few short minutes.

Although the usages  of technology in these instances are supposed to make our lives a bit easier, I cannot help to think that oftentimes, they complicate our lives even further. Sometimes, I find that it is even frustrating to have to make another step to get to something that we need. Also, I think that inserting technology into our everyday tasks is another step towards hampering our ability to interact with others. I know that for many, it is annoying when they have to deal with anything that is automated or digital.

So, when people say that they are "not good" with technology, what do you think that this truly means? I have seen many people zoom by with their electronics, while others fumble with sending an email or uploading a picture to Facebook, but where exactly does this come from? Is it that they are not interested in technology, or is it that the ability to function with technology is actually a skill, one that must be learned and developed.

For me personally, I think the latter. Being technologically savvy is a skill, and just like in any other subject, if you do not apply yourself, then you will not succeed. I have seen my two year old nephew work an iPhone and I have seen many examples of elderly people staying in touch with relatives via FaceTime or other video chat applications. What does this say about everyone else? I think it shows that they are not willing to put in the effort to to succeed.

However, as we move further into the future, I believe that this aversion to technology will become increasingly problematic. If technology is becoming more and more integral to our everyday existence, then how can one expect to function if they refuse to react positively to change? In relation to previous MOOC Talks, I believe that a large part of metaliteracy comes from our ability to remain updated and verse in new technological advances. A large part of news, media and global literacy is contingent on our ability to navigate news and media sites, and even social networks. Digital storytelling, another big part of metaliteracy, cannot be participated in without being aware of technological practices.

I believe that all of the topics that we learned about throughout this course are all variants of metaliteracy in practice, but mastery in any of them cannot be achieved without at least a rudimentary understanding of the importance of technology.

So, if you think that technology isn't the thing for you, I must say that I think you are sorely missing out. Yes, technology may be overused at times, but you cannot truly say that it does not help to make our lives exponentially easier. I think that if you want to be a functioning member of the metaliterate world, you must start by broadening your technological world.

Biology + Technology

I think that this week's MOOC Talk presentation was perfectly placed in the outline for our overall MOOC course, and I thought of this final talk as a way to think about metaliteracy moving forward into the future. I like to think of technobiophilia as a synthesis of nature and technology, and I really do think that this idea is useful in terms of embracing technology and bridging the gap between analog and digital processes.

I am really appreciative that my questions have been answered for the past few MOOC Talks, because I think that my reasoning and understanding in this course has taken a dramatic turn for the better, in comparison to the first few Talks. This week, I was a bit confused about the concept of technobiophilia, so below was the question that I sent in for this week's MOOC Talk:

"In reading the MOOC Talk website, one sentence seemed to catch my eye: "She [Sue Thomas] believes that the restorative qualities of biophilia can alleviate mental fatigue and enhance our capacity for directed attention, soothing our connected minds and easing our relationship with computers."
I understand that we like to relate technological concepts to events in nature, but I do not understand how we can hone in biophilia to ease others into a relationship with technology. Can Ms. Thomas 
 give us a few examples of how the restorative qualities of biophilia are accessed, in practice?"

Although Ms. Thomas did not answer my question directly, she made a few good points throughout her lecture. What I was truly asking, was how can technology provide a healing or restorative experience to its users. I asked this question because although I can see how technology and nature are connected, I do find that for myself and others, technology can be a bit stressful at times. As I have mentioned before in my previous post on Digital Storytelling, technology is becoming a more and more integral part of our everyday processes, even down to the most mundane of tasks. However, in an attempt to simplify processes, I find that technology makes them more difficult. I even have a few friends and family members that become quite stressed anytime they have to deal with something regarding technology. 

So this is where my question developed from. I was interested to hear Ms. Thomas' ideas on how technology itself could be restorative or healing, even for a person who is not comfortable with using it. Perhaps technology could be used for meditation or other healing practices, but how would we ease a person into this transition?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tell A Story In Five Frames

Although I was critical of Mr. Alexander's MOOC Talk, I did like the idea of attempting to tell a story in five frames. So, I decided to try to make a story for myself, and its theme should resonate with a lot of my fellow students. Here goes! 

Credit: safetyreport.com
Credit: wikipedia.com

Credit: dealbase.com

Credit: freeismylife.com
Credit: justinsomnia.org 

What do you think my story is about? Let me know! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

5 Real-World Examples of Digital Storytelling

1.) Digital Media in Museums- As one of my colleagues noted, there are more and more museums that feature digital media as an integral part of their exhibitions. I have been to many museums that feature videos, music, sounds etc. in their exhibits and it has done nothing but helped to make my experience more immersive and informative. I think this also ties into Visual Literacy, because a large part of a visit to a museum deals with our ability to be able to process and interpret what we see.

2.)Social Media Networks- This is a obvious one, but I think that it is a bigger part of our lives than we actually realize. In this day and age, we are very connected to our social media networks, and are so concerned with how we portray ourselves to the digital world- so much so that some of us even strive to create falsified versions of ourselves to seem more interesting. We find out current world and local events  through these networks, and most importantly, we are able to keep up with the lives of those who are most important to us. While some may say that social networks only help to hinder our ability to form real-life connections, I think that, in its best form, it allows us to become more invested in those real-life relationships. (Global literacy anyone? Social media networks help us to remain connected with people all around the world. In doing so, we can understand their perspectives and their nuances without even being aware of the process. For example, my friend in Antigua can post pictures of herself at Carnival, which is a massive cultural event, and I would have a small glimpse into her culture.)

3.) The Deli Scanner Thingies in the Supermarket- (Am I reaching here?) At its most basic level, digital storytelling involves a storyteller, a medium and an audience. With that definition in mind, I think that there is a wealth of situations that apply to this interpretation, even all the way down to ordering your sandwich meat at your local ShopRite. I don't know about anyone else, but I find it so fascinating that now, more and more, technology is applied to streamline the simplest of tasks. I do find that sometimes this is annoying, but it is still nonetheless cool that instead of me waiting forever for my order, I can tell someone the "story" of what I want to eat, and it can be received and understood by someone else.

4.) Google Docs- Have you guys ever used this thing? It's super cool. Google docs allows a group of people to edit or add to a document in real-time. Not only can you edit a document with other people at the same time, you can see the additions that each person in the group makes to the document, and it will always be updated to its latest form. I think that an important aspect of digital storytelling is the ability for more than one person to participate in the narrative, and Google docs is an excellent example of this.

5.) Time and Place Stamps- Okay, this is the one that slapped me in the face, and led me to write this post.  Just now, I was scrolling through the pictures on my IPhone, and the new OS update categorizes your pictures in this really cool way. When you first open up the application, the first category is "Moments," which is organized into days and weeks. If you go further, the next category is "Collections," and if you back even further, your pictures are categorized into years. I suggest that everyone with an Iphone check out the "Collections" category, because it does indeed tell a story. If I look in the section titled, "September 12-27," I see myself at a lot of evernts, and I see a lot of pictures of food. Obviously that was a good two weeks for me. (Food is good. Always good.) If I look at October 2-November 16th, I see tons of pictures of my nephew, and pictures from when I went apple and pumpkin picking. Thus, time stamps and even the pictures themselves are a cool method of digital storytelling. From that little feature, I can look back on the memories and the experiences that I've had, and can see an instant replay of my life.

The photo app also has another cool feature, which is a feature that is not only limited to the IPhone; I've seen on many phone and web applications. This feature is the ability to aggregate your photos into a live map. Each time you take a picture, the app will place a dot on a map, indicating where the picture was taken. If you zoom out, and look at all of the places where you have snapped a photo, the map will undoubtedly tell a story. For me, I have many pictures in Albany, the Bronx, Connecticut, Texas, and in the Caribbean. This may mean that I like to travel, but it can also mean that I attend school in one place, and have family in all of the others (which is the actual story). I think it would be so cool to see other people's maps, and to try to figure out their story.

What do you guys think of this list? Do you have any more examples of Digital Storytelling?

Thoughts on Digital Storytelling

I hate to say it, but this week's MOOC Talk left me feeling pretty lost. I found the idea of digital storytelling to be a bit confusing, not in its definition but in it application. I think I understood the definition of digital storytelling fairly easily- it is using media to tell a story of someone or something that is important or relevant. Also, Bryan Alexander attributed the term "predictable," to the definition of something that would be described as the opposite of digital storytelling.

I also understand digital storytelling as it pertains to metaliteracy and metacognition. In regards to metaliteracy, digital storytelling provides us with the ability to place a new dimension on a story that may have been previously told. For example, before electronics and digital media, a historical lesson on Ancient Egypt may have only included a lecture, a couple of books to read, and a question and answer period with an authority on the subject. However, today, the lesson would be completely different. With the incorporation of electronics and media to the story, we would be able to watch a documentary on Egypt, or create a Twitter page for Ramses the Great. However, creating that Twitter page allows us to dwell in the metacognitive dimension of thinking. We have the information and we know what medium we want to use to present it, but we have to think about how we can best present the information for maximum absorption by our intended audience.

My only criticism about digital storytelling is that it may result in an interpretation that is confusing or misleading. I got this idea from a section in the MOOC Talk, where Mr. Alexander shows us a series of pictures that supposedly tell a story. There are no words in the pictures, which means that they are left up to our own interpretation. But isn't this problematic? I feel like one of the most important aspects of storytelling, is that each "reader" can walk away with the same narrative, but there is no way that this can be the case with some of the variations of digital storytelling. However, that may just be my view, so I open this up to my readers. What do you think? Is digital storytelling effective?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Where Did California Go?

For this week's MOOC Talk, we were asked to provide our speaker with questions about his material. I was beyond ecstatic that my question was chosen! I feel like an extremely small celebrity. I am also impressed that Mr. Delano would take the time out to give me such a thoughtful response.

Here is my question: 

It seems as if this week will be a discussion of the synthesis between news literacy and social media literacy. With social media outlets (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr) becoming the forefront for access to breaking news and information, is there a fear that these social networks will eclipse traditional news media? If this were to happen, what new purpose would these news media outlets begin to serve? 

And here is Mr. Delano's answer: 
It seems to me that the major current weakness with the social media outlets is the need for being an informed consumer of news and information.  Since anyone can post their views, there is a virtual avalanche of personal opinions and interpretations.  Professional journals have minimized this by having a rigorous system of peer review that minimizes unsubstantiated arguments prior to publication.  In the absence of peer review, consumers of news need to be knowledgeable enough to be able to critically evaluate information in the social media.  This is a large responsibility that the traditional news media has taken seriously, but are now being challenged to short-cut in order to be ‘first’ with a report.  In my view, it is far better to be ‘late but accurate’, than to be ‘first and inaccurate’.  Therefore, I have an implicit faith that ‘quality sells’, and that junk (albeit fast) will ultimately fail among discriminating readers.  Those readers who are not discriminating (i.e., uninformed; uncritical; seekers of entertainment, rather than knowledge) will contribute to the rising level of ‘noise’.  In summary, with so much ‘noise’ being created by social media, the burden of thinking critically is growing on the audience.  In the absence of a well-educated, thoughtful audience, the ‘noise’ will create confusion and chaos.  When that ultimately occurs, I predict that the value of high-quality journalism (in whatever form) will again be appreciated due to its rigor for ‘getting things right, rather than just being first’.

What struck me most about his answer, was his idea about "noise." From first hand experience, I have come across many creators of "noise." These are the people who believe every single thing that they see or hear, and throw any sort of caution to the wind. They have no concept of the idiomatic grain of salt. Even amongst the people in my college community, I see no inquisitive desire in them and sometimes marvel at their ignorance. 

What do we do with these people? How do we get them to be interested and informed in the "news"? For these questions, the answer may lie in the problem that I addressed in my post. I think that the lack of critical thinkers comes from the fact that the "news" does not challenge us. It provides us with information that is so transient that we as viewers could really care less if the information is true or not. 

Therefore, to combat the "noise", perhaps news outlets need to work harder to give us information that we will care enough about to either believe in or disprove. If I turned on my TV right now, and the breaking news was that California finally broke off from the U.S., I would be more interested in that than in the 10 ways that I could wear a scarf for the fall. 

I would want to know more about the new island of California, how it will affect the economy, where it will float to, if it would eventually sink, if Californians would still want to call themselves Americans or declare themselves an independent country, but this raises yet another issue. HOW do we figure out if something is true? How do I know if something across the country or across the world actually happened? 

I think that this comes back to Mr. Delano's talk about the importance of social media to journalism and broadcasting. Social media provides us with the ability to experience things that are happening, even if we are halfway around the globe. Perhaps if I see a person's footage on Vine of Californian soil breaking, or 20 Instagram pictures of the fault lines breaking with mass hysteria, I will be inclined to believe that it is true. I cannot even think of how many times someone (or myself even) has said "Yeah it's true! Everyone's posting about it on *insert social media outlet here*" Social media does indeed provide us with another layer to the news and other information, and has now become an integral part to how we discern what is true or not. So maybe a synthesis of social media and journalism will provide the kick start that "noisemakers" need to become more questioning. 

What is "News"?

This week's topic of Media and News Literacy led me to think about this blog post. I feel like as of late, there has been a loss in the definition of what "news" is considered to be. When I open a newspaper or turn on my TV to watch a news channel, I have always had expectations for what I was going to find. In my household, I was brought up watching the news with either my mom or dad, and it always featured pressing global, social or economic issues, with the occasional segment about holiday shopping, the latest gadget, etc. I even remember school projects where we had to write about articles that we found online or in a newspaper.

However, today, I feel as if the "news" is all crap (for lack of a better word). If I turn on Fox, ABC, or any other channel, I no longer see the urgency to report on things that really affect us. There's a segment on Thanksgiving recipes, the newest Iphone app, fun things to do in the season, the rising cost of taking a vacation, and the birth of a celebrity's child. Sure, these things be "important," but they are fleeting. Where is the substance? Are these really the things that are important to my society? Is this a true display of my society's values?

Even with big events, like the Trayvon Martin shooting or the Government Shutdown, the minute that these things are "finished," the attention and focus completely disappear. I think that this is a huge problem. When news outlets stop reporting on these issues, they most definitely do not go away, but abruptly severing our connection to major events may give us that inclination. It is okay for there to be occasional features on triviality, but the news needs to go back to providing substantial information about our world.

I know that the first reaction to this post will be "Hey! Theres CNN, HLN, BBC and many more!" That's all fine and well, but the amount of news outlets that broadcast mostly frivolity far outweigh the more sensible ones. Even thinking back to Mr. Prinsloo's talk, I feel as if listening to, watching, or reading the news is one of the fews ways that we can maintain the ability to "read the world," and how can we do so when we are not provided with any pertinent information?

Even throughout history, LARGE events, such as the Civil Rights marches and the inhumane treatment of their participants have been broadcasted worldwide, and have moved massive amounts of viewers to action. In thinking about that, how can we incite and promote change if we are not even aware of the things that are going on?

I might be the only person that feels this way, but I really hope not. As I have said before, the news (no matter what medium) should give us global (and local) information. I want to hear about issues that will affect my life on a larger scale, and I want to know what issues are affecting a person my age in, say, Saudi Arabia or Australia. I think that the news needs to return to reporting on what is truly important. How do you guys feel? Any ideas?