Update: Not in a reading mood? You’re in luck. Here’s Devin with the spoken version. You know what to do…
Great minds think alike. One of those minds would belong to a “hip, articulate 36-year old computer whiz” name of Sang-Jin Bae. Thanks to Devin H for pointing me to a story about his views in today’s Globe and Mail: “Are we breeding a generation of app-loving, web-addicted digital illiterates?”
In addition to being a big-time digital animator, Mr Bae teaches. And what he says about the students who turn up in his classes is pretty strong vindication for the unkind words I’ve had to say about Millennials and the malarkey about their being “digital natives”…
“When kids come into my class they divide into three groups,” he says. There are the pure geeks who love technology. There are those trying to understand. And then there is the biggest group: “Those who couldn’t care less.”
Remember, these kids have signed up for highly technical instruction on computer applications used for animation. Even with my cynical attitude, I’d have guessed that a group like this would not have prompted comments like the following from Mr Bae:
“The kids I have, and that is roughly two dozen of the brightest young digital artists a semester, often have no idea what Microsoft Word is. They can’t tell a Mac from a PC. And forget Excel,” he says. He struggles to get his students to use basic computing etiquette.
“[I]t is not too late to recognize the craziness that technology can promote and discover new ways to stay sane in a world that encourages – and even promotes – insanity.” –Larry D. Rosen, iDisorder, p.6
“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” –Albert Einstein
As I noted in my previous comments on the Pew/Elon survey, the votes on Millennial “rewiring” were split (the survey Web page and report download are here). While plenty of participants felt like me (negative), plenty of others took opposing views. If you read through the survey comments, you’ll find allusions to research proving that multitasking is going to screw up young minds. You’ll also find allusions to research proving that multitasking is not going to screw up young minds.
My interest in this subject began as anything but research-oriented. It was a gut reaction to students in class being mentally absent for 3 hours while they texted their hearts out. And more generally to the countless dweebs who’ve taken over our public spaces, crashing into people, holding up lines and ignoring every shade of politesse because they might get a text message. Especially the ones people get while driving off a cliff. Continue reading
Your brain on Facebook
One of my favorite blogs is Techdirt, especially the posts written by Mike Masnick. Apart from being breathlessly prolific, he has a sharp eye – and tongue – for the idiotic measures promoted by governments, Hollywood and other would-be cyber-gatekeepers in the name of saving Western civilization from IP piracy and other putative evils.
Sometimes, however, Mike can be irritatingly dismissive. Witness the Friday post entitled “Sharing On Social Networks Triggers The Same Part Of Our Brains As Sex… Sorta,” which he files under the but-other-than-that-is-nothing-like-sex dept. He’s referring to a recent study by two Harvard psychologists that has achieved some notoriety, namely “Disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding” – pdf here. (And btw, self-disclosure is a lot like sex, at least the kind practised without a second party.)
Mike trivializes the findings of a series of lab experiments that have something important to tell us about the things people do and say on social network sites – and why they do them, based on lots of MRI brain imaging. Mike claims the authors have done nothing more than point out that sharing information about yourself is “intrinsically rewarding” – as in what else is new? (“I don’t think that’s a particularly surprising finding.”) The handy example is all those relentlessly annoying tweets about what you’re having for lunch – which people obviously indulge in “because it feels good.” We also learn that attention-getting is “the same kind of thing as getting a brief glimpse of attractive members of the opposite sex.” From which we conclude what? That “science has proved that talking about yourself to lots of people and seeing attractive people make your brain happy.”
Mike’s punchline: “Case closed.”