Man or Machine? Take your pick

I would like to start off by stating Vannevar Bush was way ahead of his time.  While reading the first part of his looooooong essay, he stated things that are current for our times.  Now the thing that is very weird is that he wrote this essay in 1945.  I’ll say it again 1945!!! The ideas, and things he notices are not only still going on in the present but he predicted how machines were going to help excel the lives of human beings.  For example, Bush wonders about “dry photography” and if it is possible, in our day and age it is possible and it happens everywhere.  He also thinks that seeing the picture before it is developed would be greatly beneficial.  Now with digital photography we can do just that.  Actual camera film is a dated technology and is rarely used anymore.  Nearly everyone uses digital means to take photographs and proceeds to post them to their facebook or twitter respectively.

The advances of technology are astounding, the way that movies are made, pictures developed, and books reprinted are almost all digital.  The computer is making things much easier to find, use, and create.  It is astounding how advanced we have become in the past 60+ years.

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Man the Machine

Today, a machine could probably take over anyone’s job. There are machines that can operate vehicles, machines that can perform surgery, and even machines that can solve homework problems. One of the most basic yet complex machines today would be the computer. If I had to guess, I would say only 25% of the people who own computers utilize them to their fullest ability  I know that there are multiple programs on my computer that I have not even opened nor do I know how to locate them and even work them. People pay tons and tons of money for a computer. They always want the best of the best. But why? They most likely are not going to learn how to use every single program. If they are only going to use it for what they need, they could get away with a very inexpensive computer. But for some reason, people don’t do that.

ImageHaving top of the line gadgets may be important to some people. Hey, if you have the money, why not spend it, right? But even those people aren’t going to fully use their computer. The main reason why people even have a computer is for work reasons or for entertainment reasons, and usually, there are separate computers for work and entertainment. The work computer needs a few programs, maybe like Microsoft Office and such. The entertainment computer only really needs Internet access. I believe that if every person used his or her computer to its fullest ability, we would not know what to do with ourselves.

With all of the technological gadgets we have today, our brains hardly need any room for memory. We have multiple machines that do that work for us. With all of the extra space in our brain, we can now focus on what is important or the task that is at hand. This may cause a positive change in our daily lives.

Is technology ruining the printed word?

There are those who say that today’s society is dependent upon technology. They say we’ve become “lazy”, or “mindless”, or that we’re “destroying our minds”. I however, believe the opposite. We’re enhancing our minds. We’re becoming more active. We’re thinking and wondering more about the world around us.

My youngest sister, who at the age of 8 has been using the internet casually for about 2 years now, is obsessed with the live webcam of Times Square in New York City. No one in my family is quite sure how she found it, but she can stare at it for hours. Sometimes she comes up with stories about the people on there, and she writes about them for school projects. Before discovering this camera, she had no interest in New York, let alone any desire to travel there. Now, it’s all she talks about. She’s found many other live webcams as well, such as the live Disneyworld cam, the live SeaWorld penguin cam, and the live San Francisco cam. She takes the experience of watching these live cameras and tells people she’s travelled all over the country and she’s seen a lot of things and met a lot of interesting people. Hasn’t she, in her own virtual way?

In this article by Jay David Bolter, the exact appeal of our technologies is discussed. He states that we crave immediacy. We want everything right now, and we can have it with the technology at our fingertips. He says that “the logic of immediacy dictates that the medium itself should disappear and leave us in the presence of the thing represented”. He wants to know why would we pay hundreds of dollars to go on a vacation when we can see the thing online? Which leads to the question, why would we buy physically printed books when we can download electronic copies for less money, even free in some instances?

Day 179/365- Kindle

Are e-readers a disgrace to the printed word?

Many people say the e-book is “destroying” the printed word. There are those, what I like to call, book snobs who have it in their heads that reading a book on an e-reader somehow takes away from the experience. As Bolter says in another article, “Both as authors and readers, we still regard books and journals as the place to locate our most prestigious texts”. I do not believe this to be true, in my personal experience. I believe that electronic books are just a way of having text reach more people. It’s the same text as a physical book, however many believe that because you can read it on a screen it’s somehow less intelligent of an experience. This is completely ludicrous. In this day and age, it’s widely known that digital text can usually reach more people than printed text. What baffles me to no end is why people who claim to be literature enthusiasts would complain about literature being able to reach more people?

Technology today is not ruining our lives, making us lazy, or rotting our brains. Technology is turning us into citizens of the earth, with easier means to explore and wonder about our world. Technology is reaching more and more people every day, connecting everyone together. Technology is a sharing an experience with everyone, and being able to reach people you didn’t even know existed before. Technology is enhancing us as learners, as readers, and as people.

Writing and its Technological Advances

Technology has opened a whole new door for writing. Not only is it more time suitable, but it is also much more easy to write, publish, and become noticed. Writing started as a delicacy. Few people knew how to write, and when someone wanted something to be written, big bucks were paid to do so. It amazes me how far writing and the technological advances involved with writing have come. Even in this century, authors would spend years and years writing a book. It would have to go to an editor, a publisher, a distributor, and then finally to the stores. Now all writers have to do (if they don’t want to send it to an editor) is click “Submit” and there their piece will be, in all its glory on a webpage.

Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

J. D. Bolter, a chair director at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has work published on technology and computer science. In his book, Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print, Bolter states “the shift to the computer may make writing more flexible, but it also threatens the definition of good writing and careful reading that have developed in association with the technique of printing” (4). This brings up a valid argument. It is a proven fact when articles are on the computer, more people will skim through them, but when people have a physical paper copy in their hands, they will read it more thoroughly than they would reading on the computer screen. This is likely to happen because looking at the computer screen can be an eyesore. Unless an article is written in lists, there are bolded font, or the sentences are real short and to the point, people are going to breeze through a reading, not giving it the careful concentration it may need.

Bolter also brings to point that now, there are much more than words to reading. Reading an article with just words is now considered boring. Visual and digital technologies are what entice the reader. Print now comes in many forms such as photographs, films, and televisions (26). Bolter explains “the best way to understand electronic writing today is to see it as the remediation of printed text…” (26). Bolter is saying that computerized print is much more basic than the printed text. This can be true in many ways. First, printed text can be hard to read, depending on the person who is writing. Normally, word processers take away that issue with having many clear fonts to select from. Printed text may also seem remedial because of the time difference. Writing out text is more time consuming than simply typing it up.

There are many benefits to the technological advances of writing. Though many people may be bitter to the fact that not many people use books anymore, they have to accept that this is what is happening. Hopefully sooner or later these people will find some sort of pleasing aspect to digital literacy, like the rest of us have.