Wednesday, August 28, 2013

“Electracy” by George Ulmer; “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by Nicholas Carr

In all honesty, I did not fully understand the reading by Geroge Ulmer. I found it to be very technical and convoluted, but overall he seemed to be proposing the importance of learning to “read” digital communications properly through ‘electracy.’ He describes electracy as being to digital media what literacy is to print, which would clearly  be very significant.

The importance of aesthetics in communication is relatively new and becoming more relevant as websites, social media, etc. must present information in a pleasing and understandable way. Many of the viewers are not very experienced with technology, and thus I believe that aesthetics are even more important to those who may not fully understand the functionality of certain forms of digital communication.

On this topic, Ulmer states that there is “no attraction without a repulsion.” I take this to mean that you can’t appreciate the good without seeing the bad. I guess this could mean that you can’t see the utility of a digital platform until you experience the improvements, or that you can’t appreciate a good use of it until you see a poor utilization.

I’m not sure if my limited analysis was accurate or completely off base, but if I were to propose a discussion question it would be this: Are online communications (like the basic words and rhetoric) truly different from the written word elsewhere?

After reading Nicholas Carr’s article, it would seem that there is a different way to read online versus the written word, or at least one is changing the other. He discusses how the constant stream of information available online has altered our ability to stay focused and read longer pieces. This is something that I have noticed in myself, especially as I’ve gotten older. I had blamed it on my hectic schedule and lack of interest in the topics I was forced to read in school, as well as my age. But now I see that it is not my age, but the fact that I have been exposed to the Internet more and more as I’ve grown up in the age of technology. Also, when given the choice between surfing the web and reading a book, I usually choose the former because it is easier to glide in and out of with the least amount of effort. However, when I don’t have the Internet as an option, like on a flight, I would still rather read a magazine than a book. It’s not that I’m particularly interested in Lindsey’s recent trip to rehab, but rather that the articles are shorter and I can easily transition between topics. The idea that the Internet has completely rewired our brains is not an outrageous claim, but it is something that I hadn’t contributed to the decline of paperback reading. My question now is if restricting our online time will retrain our brains to be more focused; or have we lost the ability forever?

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