Sunday, February 28, 2010
  The future of intellectual work
Geoff Pound has pointed me to a couple of really interesting resources recently (on Facebook rather than in Blogworld - How come these parts of the digital sphere are so separate? Except where we drag one into the other, as I will with this post ;)
Poster for Kubrik's film of Clarke's 2001 A Space Odyssey from túaw
First he remarked that Brian McLaren suggested that those of the emergent tribe who are interested in the future of seminaries should read the Life is a Mystery post "Wherein I figure out the iPad". Then he pointed me to Mark Coker's Huffington Post piece "Exploring the Future of Book Publishing at Tools of Change Conference" in which he highlights, from outside the sphere of Bible specialists, the significance of what Logos are doing to create networked books.

Unless I missed something important, (and I might well have as I was thinking about today's interactive sermon when I read it) despite the entertaining reference to Arthur C Clarke's 2001, the iPad post is not so much about the iPad, so don't yawn yet, as about how networked information (think ebooks on steroids, where everything is hyerlinked as in Logos Bible Software or imagine a hybrid of Google books and Wikipedia) together with changing approaches to imagining education may change the way we live our intellectual lives. (For my take on the broader educational context see my article: "Back to the Future: Virtual theologising as recapitulation" from Colloquium 37:2 in 2005.)
illustration from Victor Appleton's Tom Swift and His Giant Telescope Illustrator: James Gary
Interesting times! Networked books and digital libraries are making the activities of scholarship so much quicker, combine these with wider access to publication (and the economic "publish or perish" culture) and information overload becomes extreme, and mere information is again seen as worthless and human interaction more and more significant. Though paradoxically at the same time human interaction becomes (in such media environments) less and less deep or wide. Intense and casual rather than sustained or profound.

Something has to give?!

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Friday, March 09, 2007
  Illiterate students and the end of cyberpunk ::
One day computers and the networks we use to communicate will become ubiquitous, and we will forget the technology. As most of us forget the complex and once esoteric technologies of pen and paper.

That day was foreseen back in 1993 (the year I started at Carey) by a cyperpunk called "Stranger", and recognised as a significant insight by Nathan Cobb, "Cyberpunk -- Terminal Chic?," Boston Globe (24 November 1992, pp. 29, 32), now online in various places. [Hat tip to Alex Soojung-Kim Pang of The End of Cyberspace and his "former student Josh Buhs".]
It was nearly midnight deep inside Venus de Milo, a dark and sweaty Boston dance emporium. The Shamen, a British musical duo augmented by an assortment of digital gewgaws, was unleashing a storm of high-energy technopop that was cyberpunk through and through. "We can see tomorrow in each other's eyes," they sang at one point as the bouncing crowd raised its collective fist, presumably in the direction of cyberspace.


A handful of computer jockeys have spawned a style and an attitude. It's no coincidence that Mondo 2000, a glossy quarterly magazine that trumpets the pop version of cyberpunk, likes to talk about "surfin' the new edge." Way cool.

And consider: Cyberpunk is only a corner of a much broader cyberculture- at-large, which includes an online worldwide population of middle-aged couch potatoes, wheezy academics, corporate pooh-bahs, govermnet drones, and on and one. "In the future it will be everywhere, but it won't be called cyberculture," says Stranger, a 17-year-old Miami high school senior who, like most hackers, prefers his computer handle to his real name. "It will just be called culture. A few years ago, people used to talk about 'the emerging TV cuture.' We no longer talk about a 'TV culture' today. It's a given. Somdeay soon, no one will talk about 'emerging cyberculture.' Because it will be a given, too."
Meanwhile back on planet Carey... it's the start of the year, and students are facing the challenging world of networked electronic communication. Some arrive already literate, but others - mainly the over-forties - are illiterate by 21st century standards. Like 19th century factory workers or farmers who could not read or write a letter, they have difficulty reading and writing online. "Discussion forums" are frightening, online multi-choice tests terrify... today they are illiterate, even if their spelling and punctuation are hugely better than that of their, usually younger, literate peers.

Oh, for the day when networked communication technology is ubiquitous, and as invisible to us as the complex and esoteric technologies of alphabets, pens and paper have become. In the meanwhile, we'll muddle through, and try along with Job and Genesis to help you gain the basic skills for educated survival in the current century!

(Shame most of you cannot yet read this blog post, and God forbid I should podcast the ideas ;-)

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