Thursday, December 17, 2009

mewling fluff

This short article from NYRblog is a nice take on the virtues of virtual egalitarianism. While there's not anything in here that is necessarily brand new, it ties in nicely to some other reading/thinking I've been doing on learning and education. "To be human is to engage in relationships with others and with the world...whether or not men can perceive the epochal themes and above all, how they act upon the reality within which these themes are generated will largely determine their humanization or dehumanization, their affirmation as Subjects or their reduction as objects." (Freire p.1/5 Education as Critical Consciousness) As we as users continue to invest our time, which is the commodity with which we are now primarily dealing, into virtual networks and pixel-worlds we support certain statements about the route of the world's thinking. (Granted this version of classlessness is only available to those who are in possession of a computer. Thus, the divide between rich (computer-owners) and poor (non-computer owners) is established and wide. The argument could be made that since libraries provide many with computers it is less necessary to purchase your own thus helping to span the gap or smooth out the class hierarchy into a smooth, shiny surface.) To a large extent the type of our engagement (both in the initial encounter and continual interaction) with certain aspects of our culture state or demonstrate how we think about it. While it is possible to parse out belonging to a social network in terms of a/the class struggle it is also possible to discuss if this interaction allows us to demonstrate our involvement in our own epoch or if we are simply interacting within those limits that have been handed/suggested to us, democratically of course. It is easier to keep track of those whom I know through Facebook bc I have a centralized address book/photo album/IM/messaging service/marketing tool. It's a bit more work to maintain relationships through other means that are not lumped into one spot. As humans we have begun to route our relationships through the most convenient route possible. As students/learners we have also begun to/continue to focus our learning on the end result, the derived product and what it does for me. This focus is directly opposed to the idea of "the pointless encounter with an unconsumable object", entering into a relationship with an 'other' to ask of it (text/person) "What is..." Companies are not stupid-they understand that we the users are desperately and constantly trying to regain that time we think that we are losing though I am sure we do not know what we are trying to save it for.
“We powerlessly watch the stupefaction of children and adults in front of the television and the fact that we spend more and more time intensely working to buy more things designed to save us time. By the same token, we see the amazing advancement of available potential, and we are unable to turn it into a better life.” (Freire. p. 27 Pedagogy of the Heart) Stated slightly differently, technology is not only the vehicle of much of the cultural/societal change it's also the driver. If we are not paying attention we are simply going to let ourselves be steered without ever knowing where or why. Not knowing what is steering moves us from Subjects to objects.
We should seek to be more concerned with the questions of 'why(s)' and the 'what is' about how this particular item in question has come into interaction with us. Doing this will allow us to better navigate our epoch(s) and our relationship to it/them.

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