Random Thoughts

Using RL communities as metaphors for the web:

From Nicholas Mirzoeff: Contrasts web addresses with MIT representing the gated community: “By contrast, an address at America Online is the equivalent of living in a tract home in a subdivision.” (Introduction to Visual Culture, p. 105)

From Jonathan Zittrain on net neutrality and government controls and the appeal of computer security: “This [security software] risks turning PCs into gated communities that can too easily become prisons patrolled by a single warden.” (From Technology Review, March/April 2006, p. 32)

The “New Way” of Reading:

From Educational Leadership, May 2006, an article that contrasts the old and new way of reading. It seems that kids these days need visual engagement in order to encourage reading. The author, Valerie Ruth Kirschenbaum, cites lots of research and challenges educators to be part of the paradigm shift: “History warns us that the establishment rarely recognizes a paradigm shift in its earliest manifestations. Maybe this time history will be wrong. Maybe this time the education establishment will wake up for what are students are screaming for: visually stunning, multi-sensory ways of reading and writing” (p. 50). I should mention that the four-page article was in color (which made it difficult to read the name of the journal I might add) with lots of visual stimulation. The font was larger with important words underlined in red. It was visually engaging but I kept thinking it was an advertisement. It just didn’t look like a real article…showing my own bias, I guess.

Life…but not really:

Just finished reading Michael Frome’s history of the Great Smokies, Strangers in High Places. He describes a tourist attraction near the mountains called Ghost Town, which the Asheville Times says is an authentic recreation of a frontier settlement. Frome quotes the paper, “Gun-totin’ youngsters and nostalgtic adults visiting Ghost Town find themselves transported into their favorite television western. From the team of bearded cowboys who enact the shootout to the waitresses and dancers in the saloons, costumes and architecture reflect the pioneer western atmosphere” (p. 314). Hmm…they aren’t transported to the past, instead they only get as far as a television western, a larger than life portrayal of the past that ignores individual experiences for a generalized historical view. Here is a real-life portrayal of a fictional virtual past…

Cultural Elites

I feel like I was a little hard on the kid from San Jose…he meant well. But then I remembered something Mirzoeff said about technology being seen as the next phase of evolution: “Those most able to deal with computing environments have become the new technocratic elite on merit, while less able people have fallen behind” (p. 107). Is this an example of that idea? The oppressed just need to turn to the web for salvation.

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