Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Turkle vs. Wesch

After reading the article by Turkle and watching the TED talk from Wesch, I see that although they have very different approaches, the issue that they are both combating is the same. I think most tech savvy Americans can agree that they spend a large amount of their day consumed by technology. Some people are embedded in technology for work. Some are swimming in seas of social media for recreation. Whatever the reason, people are definitely spending more and more time "connected" in a digital world then ever before. 

As mentioned earlier, Wesch and Turkle agree on this front. The areas in which they differ are in their suggestions on how to rectify the issue of lost personal human interaction. Turkle suggested in her article that folks should simply forget their devices and start interacting with each other LIVE. For most digitally connected people, this idea sounds nice, but would never work in a practical sense. Many people need to stay "connected" due to their line of work. Others have made their digital lives so much a part of their real lives that to disconnect would be more of a distraction and cause for anxiety, anger, and inattention. Instead, Wesch suggested that we teach our students how to do the things that are very difficult for humans, that technology makes easy for us. These things include being able to: connect, organize, share, collect, collaborate, and publish. As mentioned, technology gives us all of the tools that we need to complete each one of these tasks. It is up to the human however to use these tools in a meaningful way. Wesch also pointed out that meaning cannot be sought. Information is everywhere across the digital landscape, but information and meaning are very different. Students need to learn how to make meaning from the information that is available to them. They must learn how to connect, organize, share, collect, collaborate, and publish in a meaningful way. 
Technology is a wealth of knowledge that should be explored. However, students really must learn how to explore it and utilize it. Ignoring technology and the possibilities that it holds does a disservice to our young people. By ignoring this resource, we are only contributing to the misuse of this powerful tool. 
Though Wesch mainly focused on young people (mainly students) Turkle focused on all  people. She mentioned that adults are choosing to email rather that converse in a live setting. I agree that many adults are beginning to turn away from two sided conversations. I disagree however that these adults are only engaging in one sided conversations where only their ideas are getting posted all over their social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. In almost all of these social media arenas the conversations are dimensional. You post an idea for the world to see and respond to. It begins a global conversation in some cases. The only one sided conversation to be had in the world of technology is email. In some emails, an idea or message is sent out to your co-workers and not meant to be responded to. In this scenario, the conversation is one-sided. But this does not differ from classic mail correspondence where an informational letter is sent out to many people with no intention of getting responded to. 
Overall, I think both Wesch and Turkle recognize the same issue. The way in which they differ is the way in which they suggest their solutions to this issue. 

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