|16 Feb 2013||#1|
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How Has The Computer Changed You?
How has the computer changed you?
For some time now there have been studies done and many articles written about the effect that computers have had on the users of them. One of the more noted was, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" from 2008 in the Atlantic Magazine. In it the author, Nicholas Carr, begins with an admission:
"Over the past few years Iíve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isnít goingóso far as I can tellóbut itís changing. Iím not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when Iím reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and Iíd spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. Thatís rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if Iím always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle."
When I read that the first time I have to admit that there was something familiar about it. I can't say that I've experienced an extensive reprogramming but with time I did notice some changes. I can still effectively concentrate on something when necessary but it seems in a different mode than what it used to be.
Personally, I've been "computing" since around the mid 90's, not to any great extent at that time but I was beginning to get the feel of it with the pc's of others and those at libraries. I got my my first "full-time" computer in 2000. In the beginning I "surfed" wherever the electronic waves would take me. Bulletin boards, chat rooms and the early forums were the social media of the day. I also began to learn html and then around 2003 is when I began considering making a web page of some sort. The results were some blogs, a couple of forums, and an arts and writers magazine which ran for 4 and half years.
All of that came to a relative halt around 2009-10 when for away-from-the-keys reasons I had to review many aspects of my personal circumstances. While I could have continued with my computer endeavors, what I opted for was a "vacation" away from the keys. I didn't renew the hosting account and for around 9 months the computer was basically a library, word processor and canvas for various art things. Thus you can see what I meant by "relative" halt. But it was enough to reveal aspects that were interesting and somewhat unsettling. Rather than cite this or that I will give an example that has nothing to do with computers.
Around 1989-90 I moved from Los Angeles to the high desert town of Johua Tree, California. After living there for one year (and the only use of a computer a now and then thing at the local library) I realized that it took that year for the "tapes" of Los Angeles to unspool from my consciousness. In other words, I regarded LA as the grid and my having been out of the grid showed me how much the grid had modified me, my perceptions, my self. To say it was an interesting revelation is putting it mildly. Eventually I did return to LA but it was never going to be the same as when I had left it.
My vacation from the computer had somewhat the same effect. It wasn't that much of a surprise since for some time I had been aware that anything one involves him or herself with will eventually involve them regardless if they're aware of it. Or to use an old phrase: "You are what you eat". Perhaps it can be said that you are what you compute? Any repeated interfacing - with anything - is bound to have an effect on the user. Thus, computing would likewise never be the same for me as it once was.
Perhaps my example is not one you can relate to. But I figure that for many there has been much thinking about their personal time with the computer. Maybe for you the interfacing is at full speed with not only the computer but with a more advanced phone every year or so, with more friends on Facebook, and more of whatever that the tech world has to offer. Hey, different keystrokes for different folks.
At this point I haven't become a zealous Luddite, nor hacker, nor promoter of all-things-tech. What I have become is more conscious of a balance between the virtual and the real. In a way I can say I've always been aware of that but a vacation whether from the grid of a city or the grid of a motherboard can be a good check and balance of reality. I often wonder if all the computing everywhere really addresses what has to be addressed. When I go out and about in the city I look at all those people with their phones that have by now become appendages of a sort and I wonder if that will in fact help the matter. Will the plenitude of online offerings make me any wiser? Will the next OS make my real life any better? What's my definition of "real"? Well, the computer has made that a relative thing too, hasn't it?
Or is the proposition really a stranger one in that computers are if anything a surgical medium that is bringing to light something that otherwise couldn't be accessed? Don't worry, you won't get anything too heavily philosophical or conspiratorial from me on this one. Just one of those strange breezes that I've discussed with others.
So what's your view on this? Is it a case of, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy", or, no big deal, just another day and another way. Pass the chips.
All in all, for me it's all about the balance, all things in moderation. And of course, to know innately what you really need regardless of the external's ever-changing marquee.
|My System Specs|
|16 Feb 2013||#2|
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Computers have been the main profession that has kept bread on the table. I've been involved with computers since 1962 in the Air Force. I've done computer maintenance, programming (at NASA on a telemetry processor) and the last 23 years (until I retired) as a LAN/WAN Network and Hardware Help desk manager.
I probably look on computers differently than you have with the involvement I've had.
|My System Specs|
|16 Feb 2013||#4|
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Thank you for responding.
Then computers have been a career for you, indeed, a livelihood.
Having had a longer experience with them than myself - and I would figure many others on this forum - how do you regard the effect that computers have had on society? Most will agree that they have advanced humankind but others point out the saturation and attention-commanding character of them.
For example, a few years back I saw a PBS Frontline documentary, "digital_nation life on the virtual frontier". Seeing it was an added component to what I and many others had already formulated to one extent or another. Perhaps you've seen it but if not then give it a look. Of particular note the section on the Korean "Internet Rescue Camp" was enlightening insofar as how the government there began to consider Internet addiction a serious concern.
Watch The Full Program | Digital Nation | FRONTLINE | PBS
Here are a couple of comments from readers on the Frontline web page:
"I agree technology is moving quickly and impacting our brain, in other words, our capabilities. Technology is moving fast, but the research for the way this is impacting our brains is imperative. Why aren't we being preventative? We are talking about the future of our youth. Research can't keep up with technology, I get that, but something now is better than nothing and research from decades ago, that being said with all respect to past psychologists. Education follows a traditional style of learning and technology has converted generations into purely visual and kinesthetic beings. Isn't this decreasing vocabulary and interrupting other forms of independent thinking? Or is the virtual world dictating our way of life? It's sad to say, but I feel some inefficiencies of my own are due to the participation in this technology evolution. Don't get me wrong, I think technology is necessary, but to a certain limit."
"I have to say after watching this movie my opinion on always having technology around has definitely changed. I feel like were not going out and doing things like we used to. We're letting the youth of America get lazy and sit at home all day and watch tv and play games online. Where were we before this all came into play? People were out exercising and playing games and making friends with people and interacting and building a faster metabolism. I feel its a shame that we depend on technology too much. Im going to try to make it a point in my house that we have real discussions and try not to let my life get sucked in by all this technology."
Just a couple but the gist of them has been echoed at large.
Being that computers have been a career for you did you or those whom you worked with at that earlier stage at any time regard what their effect would be on society? Or was it simply that there is always going to be a bit of good and bad in the mix?
|My System Specs|
|16 Feb 2013||#5|
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|My System Specs|
|17 Feb 2013||#10|
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I like computers because with the internet you can gather information of any kind on anything. I like the challenge of trying to learn more about computing each week when my 3 brain cells allows me to. Sometimes a computer brings joy and happiness and some times sorrow. Sometime you understand what they do and how and sometimes you don't.
Kind of like a woman. I like them too. They will change your life for sure.
|My System Specs|
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