Interesting piece by the President of Bowdoin College on impact (and potential impact) of technology on liberal arts colleges. Though we are now a university, many at Mary Washington still consider the school at heart to be a liberal arts college. Given that, how much do you think President Mills is right about here? Where would disagree with his assessment?
NOTE: Mills indicates that his thinking has been influenced by James Gleick’s The Information.
The Madness of technological development, is it brand new? At what specific moment did Chewbacca punch the Millenium Falcon into hyperspace? What if we have always been rapidly moving through technology? I’m sorry, did your mind just get blown? Well, don’t feel bad so did mine.
Brian Winston in his introduction to Media Technology and Society notes, “the storm of progress blows so hard as to obscure our vision of what is actually happening. What is hyperbolised as a revolutionary train of events can be seen as a far more evolutionary and less transforming process.” If anyone is ever interested in the development of communication and technology in the United States but perhaps do not have the time to read a full fledged book on the matter, let me suggest Gregory Downey’s short piece on the topic. The brevity of the book encapsulates the persistent whirlwind feel. Each chapter in Downey speaks to the historical moment as well as its social implication yet finishes with a bridge to today’s technology, a short musing.
In selecting Winston’s introduction and Downey’s short work, Dr. McClurken also prompted a question and offered a tentative answer. Winston questions the newness or revolutionary aspects to our information age when he notes that each technology was not born in a vacuum but rather had predecessors and early conceptual origins. The author makes a case for historical laws that mark the success or failure of certain technologies.
According to Winston, we somehow lose all sense of what occurred in the not so distant past with our technology (15). We all have collective amnesia that television stormed onto the scene and changed life or that radio became an essential technology, carrying all the same new ideas and problems as any other piece of technology. Both Winston and Downey demand a rethinking of the developments in technological history.
Are we existing in some new whirlwind of events that hurdles us ever faster to some new era of Information flow/overload? I am not so certain. I wonder where discussions this morning (Thursday, Sept 8 ) will take us. As a (let’s face it) experimental seminar, I am eager to see how our first class discussion goes. Thus far we have talked about brass tacks, which haven’t been fully hammered down just yet, and tools required for this semester. So, here’s where we start the actual water slide.
Get in the pool.
Sources for today:
Brian Winston Media Technology and Society
Gregory J. Downey Technology and Communication in American History