At times you laugh out loud, always informative, great stories, full of well-known facts with a twist, as well as a myriad of gems. The kind of book I would have bought and sent to people for the pleasure of it … not sure how that works with an eBook. If Michael Palin had got stuck in Egypt for six years, without the film crew, he might have made a stab at it. I described Robert Twigger to my wife as Michael Palin’s mischievous younger brother. (I know Robert, though I’ve not seen him for twenty years). He’s exceedingly bright but very modest, even humble. A boffin you might find going through second-hand books in a pile at a charity shop.
There’s an intimacy, cleverness and a flash of British funniness throughout. Encyclopedic whilst as readable as an unputdownable novel.
For me this is the very best travel writing. I’ve bounced into it via a need to take an interest in ethnography in H809 Practice-based research in e-learning. I found myself watching ‘Seven Years in Tibet’ then reading the book by Heinrich Harer. ‘The Red Nile’ is written in a similar vein, though Robert’s relationship is with the river and not the Dalai Lama. The book touches on a good deal of anthropological study of the peoples of the Niles (blue and white). It’s value is how easy it is to read after all the academic papers, and how quotable and informed it is too.
‘It seems peculiar to me that specialisation should involve developing a point of view that obscures the very subject you wish to study’.
This is I will take as a warning as I venture towards doctoral study. My interest is in learning, and e-learning in particular. Learning can apply to many, many fields. We all do it whether we want to or not.
- Beware The Man In The Angry White Pyjamas (aikidoexeter.wordpress.com)
- Dalai Lama free to those who can’t afford him (theage.com.au)
Playing Mercutio in ‘Romeo & Juliet’ 1983
Thirty years ago, possibly to the week, I performed in a university production of Romeo & Juliet as Mercutio. I’ve just been watching, to my horror, a digitised copy from the Betamax original.
That’s me with the spindly legs in the white tights.
Not suprisingly, more so than a diary entry, this takes me to the moment. Minutes later the large nappy pin holding up my hose (the stuffed, bulbous pants) comes undone. I complete the fight to the death having pulled up my hose more than once – laughter and awareness rather spoils the moment and more liek Franky Howard than Shakespeare I die on the line ‘A plague on my underpants’.
Fascinating that even in silhouette I would have recognised my teenage son in how I move.
My wife tells me I don’t speak like that any more.
Cruel and revealing to me that I was so dependent on the director – in this amateur production I minch about more like Malvolio from Twelfth Night.
My fascination in memory is pricked by this.
There is value in forgetting and not having a record of past events yet wearable technology is gradually making it possible to keep a record of everything we do – both visual and audio. Our perceptions are altered by the recalling of a memory. Though of course, this particular memory is still not my visual memory as my perspective will always be caught up in this scene.
Fig. 1. Testing ahead of an MBA Webinar
I keep getting this crazy panic that I can’t know enough soon enough to ‘make a difference’ – the learning bug has set off a tempest in my brain
Just as well that neuroscience is next on my list of conquests … or should that be psychology?
Or courtesy of e-learning and blended learning an MA in both simultaneously part-time over two years.
The mind boggles, but this is what the Internet permits like never before – degrees like A’ levels, even like GCSEs, why ever give up a subject you loved – like History … and … Music and … and Fine Art … and Sports Science … then who employs you? A tutor of multiple subjects to the super-rich? Oh, and an MBA.
If only I could be 28 forever.
The University of Oxford offers a combined MA from the Said Business School and Oxford Internet Institute – that’s two MAs taken simultaneously over two years. They’ve already had postgraduates through.
I’m thinking this way having recently wrapped my second degree, the MA in Open and Distance Education with The OU. Though on another ‘traditional’ e-learning module with The OU currently – Practice-based research in e-learning (H809), it is the second MOOC of the year that has my head spinning. We were introduced to various depositories of Open Educational Resources. The MIT offering was the clincher as I came across first undergraduate and then graduate content on Neuroscience.
This, currently, makes more sense to me than psychology.
To see and understand what happens when thoughts are formed or our senses perceive the world. Its like going behind the desk of a Magician to see how they do it (I did that at a friend’s birthday party age 6 or 7 … I can feel the carpet beneath my toes, see the little table and the drop down slat with the bag attached to it … ) I’ve created ‘tricks’ in camera and in post production when making videos. It isn’t hard to trick the brain. We want to see what isn’t there. This is possible because of how our brains connect – the chaos couldn’t be designed. Gun polish takes me back to another boyhood moment. Another the very first time we had marshmallows roasted in the fireplace.
- H809 7.4 Mapping Pedagogy and Tools for Effective Learning Design (mymindbursts.com)
- ‘If you’re not lost and confused in a MOOC you are probably doing something wrong’ (mymindbursts.com)
- Why am I doing this? (MOOC Activity 1) (jmkn817.wordpress.com)
- Education as a service: Moocs, ODL and production of knowledge. (frankounl.wordpress.com)
The act of playing chess, and the process of thinking it through is the joy and the learning.
What will be the point as or once all the answers are online?
Where we let algorithms and the Web provide the answers?
Does this mean that anyone can be a doctor so long as they have a smartphone in their pocket and a good connection?
Knowledge acquired is how learning occurs.
The learning process is necessary in order for the brain to make sense of it (or to make nonsense of it)
The key is in the memory making.
We learn, each of us, in a unique way.
Less so because of when or where we were born,
But because we were made this way.
‘Je suis comme je suis, je suis faite comme ca’.
Our DNA is unique and the brain it constructs also.
Not hard considering ….
- There are some 98 billion neurons in there.
- And every neuron has some 10,000 connections.
It is this mass of interconnections that makes us both ridiculous and smart,
Able to think in metaphors, provide insight, solve problems, conform, deform and inform.
And fall in and out of love.
Enthusiasms bubble up like farts in the wind.
Is life like a game of chess?
Are we its players and pieces whether we like it or not?
It is surely the sense of participation and control that makes life worth living?
Which suggests that absolute machine power – Google-eyed algorithms – could be no better than prison.
Life is not a game,
And we are more than merely players.
There is no need to strut and fret our hour upon the stage.
It is a story we tell, defined by our actions and responses,
A rollercoaster of our own making.
There is no need for noise and tension, where we can be cool in war and love.
- Tactics Time (Book Review) (justapawninthisworld.wordpress.com)
- A game of chess! (thouartthycreator.wordpress.com)
- 12 Bizarre Chess Variants (neatorama.com)
Fig.1. Lewes Castle in the snow
Another conception of Open Learning
The traditional, institutionalised, top down, dictatorial behaviorist learning of the past.
The trees representing the organic, overwhelming, irresistible drive of the the Web.
Get comfortable with the technology
Set up a blog if you don’t have one and use the Blog Aggregator with #H817open tag
There are badges in Cloudworks if you like this kind of thing
Think about the priorities.
This is how I start a post in my Open University Student blog which I have posted to most days since 6th February 2010. I put in bullet points and notes. I just get the thing started then add to it. My own private wiki. It isn’t a fixed thing. Months even years later I may add to it – there are no rules on blogging, no guidelines worth following. Anything goes today as it did in the 1990s.
Learning Objects: Resources for distance education worldwide
Shared education as courses
Traditionally through text books, wall maps and charts, videos and DVDs.
Save money, improve content.
Objects and object–orientated design
Hand rolled bread or a supermarket loaf? Are you a connoisseur or simply hungry?
Open scholar – shaped by digital and networked.
Positive feedback loop between openness and creativity.
Alongside more learning at uni, lifelong and flexible learning.
I may try to write a piece that is journalistic, or more like an academic paper, or just record an event, jot down an idea. Rough rather than smooth, where other can tread and find traction, if only to correct, add to or develop the thinking here and take it somewhere esle.
After a paper and a SlideShare and generally following the conversation asynchronously as it occurs I then do the first activity. I should originate a mind map or spider map, but having dwelt on this so often over the last few years in particular I find myself recreating the same kinds of things: the water cycle, Engestroms fungi as an ecosystem, swirling ink or Catherine-wheel like fireworks all in an effort to visualise what open learning looks like.
I use Picasa Web Albums and have some 135 folders.
Each folder tops out at 1000 images. I am onto e-learning II and have 1250 images across the two – this is my e-learning world as much as 1500+ blog posts here and perhaps 2000+ in my OU student blog. When I get a good scanner and Mac in a few weeks time I will digitize some thirty years of diaries and fiction writing too – and ‘stick it out there’ so that it can compost in cyberspace rather than a lock-up garage.
For now here are a set of images that I have used in the past to describe or illustrate e-learning and for the purposes of this activity ‘Open Learning’ as a subset, or overlapping beast of e-learning, contained by the universe of ‘Learning’.
This last one from Dion Hinchcliffe
- Openness in Education WK1 MOOC (mymindbursts.com)
- Martin Weller and the MOOCers (mymindbursts.com)
- Me, openness and education (egrommet.net)
- Olds Mooc Narratives (mymindbursts.com)
- Who Needs Harvard When There Is Always a MOOC? (clarissasblog.com)
- Lost in the clouds in an OLDS MOOC 2013 (mymindbursts.com)
Here in Lewes we shut the town centre down for a march as often as we can.
It all stems from 5th November. We had only been here a couple of months and we were enrolled in a Bonfire Society. That was 13 years ago.
The town also has a Moving on parade for all primary schools in the district, not just the town, but from outlying villages. The town centre is closed to traffic and kids, dressed up, carrying banners and whatnot on a theme, march through town and end it with a party in the Paddock – a large field, formerly part of the earthworks around the 11th century Lewes Castle.
It helps to make an occasion of something when we move on. We’re rather good at it:
I’m down for Brighton or will try to enroll in Versailles for my graduation. I skipped my first nearly three decades ago. I just didn’t feel like moving on. I hadn’t felt I’d had an education to justify the fuss. My fault, not theirs. I put in the hours and came out with an OK degree but that isn’t why I’ll remember my undergraduate years.
I should mark moving on, and away from this blog. It logs, day by day, and in the background countless pages of hidden notes. It has carried me through the Masters in Open & Distance Education.
H809, my bonus track, will mark the end.
For this reason I am migrating most of the content and the journey it records to an external blog.
From time to time I’ll post a note at the bottom of the page to say this is where it’ll be from June.
My moving on.
By May, I’ll also know if the next few years have been set up. We’ll see. I may even be back at the OU in some capacity. I rather
Fig. 1. My own vision of education as nurturing – like growing plants in a garden
‘Her metaphor for the brain is that of a garden, that’s full of the most interesting, different things that have to be constantly cultivated and constantly checked‘. This was Kirsty Young introducing her guest, Professor Uta Frith. (01:24 into the transmission, BBC Radio 4 2013)
Having recently completed the Open University postgraduate module H810 Accessible Online Learning and of course interested in education, this offers insights on what studying autism and dyslexia tells us about the human mind.
There’s more in another BBC broadcast – Uta Frith interviewed for the BBC’s Life Scientific – Broadcast 6 Dec 2011 accessed 1st March 2013 – and available, by the way, until January 2099 should you not be able to find time and want your dyslexic grandchildren to listen.
The difference between someone who is autistic and the rest of us is how we each of us see the world.
‘We learn by taking different perspectives – something about ourselves which we otherwise would have never known’. Uta Frith (2013)
‘Take what’s given to you and make the best of it, but of course the cultivation is key to all of these things, so culture in our lives, learning from other people … these are the really, really important things’. Uta Frith (2013)
We may all have some of this in us.
Genetic factors matter.
‘How we are raised is a myth. It is not right. It has been so very harmful. It is a illusion to think that doing the right things, for example that you get from books, that you can change things.’ Uta Frith (2013)
Then from BBC’s Life Scientific
‘A passionate advocate of neuroscience and how its findings can be used in the classroom to improve learning. She hopes that eventually neuroscience will inform education in the same way that anatomy informs medicine’. (01:35 in, BBC 2013)
Uta Firth wants knowledge of the brain to inform education the way knowledge of the body informs medicine.
Professor Uta Frith is best known for her research on autism spectrum disorders. Her book, Autism, Explaining the Enigma (1989) has been translated into many languages. She was one of the initiators of the study of Asperger’s Syndrome in the UK and her work on reading development, spelling and dyslexia has been highly influential.
Throughout her career she has been developing a neuro-cognitive approach to developmental disorders.
In particular, she has investigated specific cognitive processes and their failure in autism and dyslexia. Her aim is to discover the underlying cognitive causes of these disorders and to link them to behavioural symptoms as well as to brain systems. She aims to make this research relevant to the education of people with development disorders and to contribute to a better quality of their everyday life.
The above profile form the UCL pages
Uta Frith on YouTube on early years, then on dyslexia
Frith, U (1989/2003) Autism – explaining the enigma (second edition)
Frith, U (2008) Autism – a very short introduction
Uta Frith, Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4, Transmission accessed 1st March 2013
Uta Frith, The Life Scientific, BBC Radio 4, from BBC website as a podcast (accessed 1st March 2013
University College London, Staff. Website (accessed 1st March 2013)
- Uta Frith: ‘The brain is not a pudding; it is an engine’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Autism: a Q&A with Uta Frith (oup.com)
- Autism: a Q&A with Uta Frith | OUPblog (pluk.mt.typepad.com)
- Link feast (bps-research-digest.blogspot.com)
- New Smartphone App to Boost Interaction Skills in Children with Autism (prweb.com)
I’ve described it as a digital ocean often enough so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found myself in it. That was a couple of nights ago.
Writing to a colleague with a mixture of excitement and concern I told them why they had to take an interest in Web 2.0. I explained that there would be an impact on the Pharmaceutical industry – she works in medical market research interviewing then analysing qualitative data and writing reports. I had written the sentence, ‘do you want to get on your surf board or get washed out in the ripe tide?’ when I visualised myself back in this dream.
I can use lucid dreams deliberately to help me dwell on matters, or just for the fun of it.
I remember being able to go back into dreams having woken up age 11 or so at boarding school: Beamish Dormitory, Mowden Hall School. I may have only been 10. I was in a three musketeers sword fight, three against one. I was killed. I woke and returned in the dream behind the three attackers. In my teens I found a book on it and learnt a few tricks to ‘find’ a dream or two from the night before and then some decades later I found a list of some 27 questions I could subject myself too if I really wished to get a sense of what was going on.
Today it is usually swift and automatic; I know that the dream, its location and events, are a projection of how I feel about an issue. After a couple of months of total immersion in Web 2.0 (Open University Masters in Open & Distance Education, OLDs MOOC) reading and coursework and trying to plan a long term future in this environment I started to find myself in the water.
The beach at Mawgan Porth, Cornwall seems to the spot, probably because for the first time ever in my life I got caught in the rip last summer. Had I not taken a pull-buoy out as a precaution I would have certainly been in trouble as my stomach and back cramped. (I’m a former competitive swimmer gone to seed – its ten years since I did a triathlon). It was a shock to find myself heading down the coast and looking inland for all intense and purposes as if from a bus window that was on its way.
In the dream though, I had a sense of both nerves and excitement at being in the waves just before they broke – my preference however was to get out beyond them.
What I take from this is the need to be adequately prepared – fit for the water and armed with a surf-board (if only to sit on it), even to have something to wave to get the lifeguards’ attention. An observer, and player, beyond the waves, suggests to me research.
This is my digital landscape visualised.
The flotsam and jetsam of old practices get washed away or left on the shore. The ‘players’ creating content in e-learning agencies and departments are on this breaking edge, where the oceans makes landfall.
- Anyone else dreaming about the ocean? (lunaticoutpost.com)
- Flotsam and Jetsam (platypiphotography.wordpress.com)
- Carl Jung: objective and subjective dreaming (immanence.net)
- I’ve long visualised digitization as creating an ocean of content. With Web 2.0 this ocean developed currents, weather systems and a water-cycle. (mymindbursts.com)
- Dream Recording (blogyourpassion.wordpress.com)
- Ocean Tides (melancholybeauty.wordpress.com)
The Shallows : What the Internet is doing to our Brains?
Love it or hate it the Internet is here for keeps.
I had might as well say forever, as we would all surely agree that everything we’ve got so far will only become more pervasive during our respective lifetimes.
I had hoped to get an objective view from Carr but ‘The Shallows’ fails to say what
the Internet is doing to our brains.
I would love to time travel and stop my ancestors from what they were doing 35,000 years ago so that I could have shared with them what making stone tools would do to their brains and where it would lead.
What’s different? Not much.
They would have been too busy to listen, or, as we are doing, they would listened but pressed on
Carr lacks the credentials, training or inclination to answer the very question he poses.
Journalists and authors, Nicholas Carr is both, want to sell copy so he has to take a stance – he is against.
‘The Shallows’ is an apt title as his research lacks depth. Look a bit closer and many of the authors he cites say as much to counter the arguments as support them, take the Nobel prize winning Eric Kandel who on the one hand identified the ‘plasticity of the brain’, but also showed that through habituation a sort of boredom sets in – hardly the case that Google is taking us over as Carr would gave us believe.
Whatever our attractions and distractions, unless we have behavioural or cognitive issues, the
Internet is no more a trap, no more changing how we think than the book, TV or radio in the past. Despite the Internet we still sleep, make friends, go to school or work, shop, make love, raise kids …
the human world is too complex, too fluid to have been taken over in the way Carr suggests.
What the Interent ‘does to our brains’ is no different to anything else if we engage or apply ourselves for long enough. Carr has a US-centric view too, and a US where everyone of course has Internet access, a smartphone or laptop. He projects this scheme of things onto the rest of the world as if it is the same in North Yorkshire where there is limited broadband access, or to Lake Nakuru, Kenya where there is none.
In his ignorance or arrogance he assumes that everyone is like him and his friends, borderline ADHD, easily bored, addicted to the early adoption of whatever comes along. If half an audience agree with Carr when he suggests that the Internet is taking over their mind and this is a bad thing, the other half will say that it is not – that it is a tool there to do their bidding.
Personally, I come over giddy with excitement when I start a quest to research and read, just as I got each morning when I entered a different library as an undergraduate at Oxford. Then amazed at the knowledge before my eyes that could be called up in a few hours or days. Today equally gobsmacked by tools and resources courtesy of the Open University Online Library that offers up just about anything I can find and want to read in seconds. I’m mot the slave to a platform
or a piece of kit – I move around in both the physical and the virtual sense from different access devices – smartphone, iPad, laptop or desktop as well as through different portals. There isn’t
the sameness to it that Carr implies.
There is variety everywhere you turn. And this is my unique and personal perspective. To avoid
regression to the mean in large scale research on use of and behaviours as a consequence of using the Internet I would invariably be discounted anyway. Far from discounting the few
people Carr speaks to he holds them up as representative of all of us. Proper research could well conclude the opposite to what Carr thinks.
Carr chooses his metaphors to support his perspective – this is natural, but he wants us to think he is speaking in absolute terms, that we all ‘forage in the thickets’. It is a passing phase. Get out of a taxi in a country we have never been to before and we all feel a little lost and overwhelmed. We get over it. Sitting on the fence, as academics do, doesn’t sell books.
They don’t scaremonger. If nothing has changed they say so. ‘What’s the Internet doing to our brains? Not much’ isn’t going to see a title, book or magazine, flying off the shelves. People, in their purchase, like to declare ‘I am for or against’. If Carr had honestly been for he would, like Professor Martin Weller, have published ‘The Shallows’ as open source in a digital form, instead
it is marketed like the latest film staring Sandra Bullock or Nicole Kidman and only made available in analogue form. Carr has a first degree in English literature and a Masters in American literature. He can graze a few articles on neuroscience and webscience but this hardly qualifies him to describe with accuracy how the mind works. Neuroscientists will ponder for decades to come the way we remember. Carr therefore falls back on a potted history, selecting those arguments that support his thesis, rejecting those that do not. He suggests for example that information flows through the eyes and ears to our minds. I’d like to measure that. I’d like
to see that.
Perception isn’t achieved in this way.
No substance flows from one place to another . It is this misconception that must give Carr the impression that his mind is somehow filling up, or getting aggitated by the bombardment of ‘stuff’. The Internet isn’t the problem, rather it is Carr’s own physiological and pscychological response to it. His personal fix, if this is his desire, should be cognitive behavioural therapy. The Net may be
chipping away at Carr’s capacity to concentrate but he and we know that everyone is not like him. Personally, and his is a often a personal, anecdotal story so I can respong from my singular
perspective, I feel as though I was made for the web. The ADHD mind that hungers for everything can in some measure be satisified so long as I give no single interest more than three hours at a time, and I mix up the activities in any 18 hour period when I am not asleep. Carr wants us to believe that the Net is stopping us from being able to concentrate. On the contrary, I find I can now get the exact book or paper I need which I will read cover to cover in eBook or print form. There is less need for compromise. If the book isn’t holding your attention blame the book – find one that better suits you. And finding what does suit you is what the Internet and Google in particular, does do staggeringly well.
Three decades ago my reading pattern was to have six books on the go. I would rotate,
two chapters or two hours on each. Of the six two might be on history, another two on technology, and the fifth and six a novel and a book on design, art or photography. All six might now be in digital for – though the art book is as likely to be large and hardback. And the books may be spinkled with links offered any the author/editor to video or supporting websites. Whether or not I
take up a link is no different to whether or not I stop to read a footnote, or follow up a reference.
The choice is mine, not Google’s. Google enables to my mind, while Carr believes it disables. He is wrong. My handwriting has become illegible. Do I blame Google for the lack of practice, or not having access to a QWERTY keyboard for a few hours yesterday? I coach swimming. I understand adaptation in sport, the phsiological process that links mind to body and action. Your mind and body learn how to do a thing … then you get lazy, or impatient, or come to think of it, resort to scribbling a note with a cheap biro onto the back of an envelope rather than digging out the Sheafer fountain pen and writing, at a desk, rather than propped up on the sitting room sofa
… ‘use it or lose it’ applies to a kid swimming an IM or a Fifty something surfing the Web. If he wants to ‘lose it’ in relation to his behaviours and the Interent all Carr needs to do is something else.
Personally, and I have stated this every year or so in the 13 years I have been blogging, I crave a book – a clear, well–written, single–minded read from end to end, getting into the ‘flow’ of another person’s thinking i.e the Interent has the exact opposite effect on me. But it isn’t just me. Does the ‘Internet’ make us less or more social? Less or more likely to go out and meet up?
Research shows that being sociable online has us wanting to meet face to face. It’s counter intuitive. That’s because the Internet is just a mirror to our natural behaviour. The Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University has a series of labs designed to monitor how we engage with technology, the Internet in particular. To see and measure and understand how we behave with kit and software – we need to listen to the reports they produce and that other institutions such as the IET produce. They will tell us what is really going on because Carr has not. Carr uses research of the past, often the distant past, to inform what is happening today.
The technological distance between Plutarch, Aristotle, Freud and Dewey is too great. Quoting Shakespeare or Arthur C Clarke may provide colour and plausibility, but it doesn’t tell me
what is going on when or as we exploit what can now do, and read, and see and interactive with online. Carr references the ignorant as examples of the informed. I’d describe this as the blind leading the blind. Two fools in a pub can wax lyrical about the ways of the world wide web but the rest of us are none the wiser as a result of listening in. What Carr needs to undertake next, far less sexy that a sensationalist article for the popular rather than the academic press, is research.
To set parameters and to ask a question then set about testing and analysing what is going on. Marshall McLuhan, like Carr fifty years later, knew how to spin an intelligent story. McLuhan then and Carr today read like the transcript of a standup comic for the well read. They both dip into historic greats, but this kind of intellectual name dropping whilst appearing to prop up their arguments starts to crumble when scrutinised closely.
Web 2.0 does this, on the one hand toppling flase prophets such as Marc Prensky and the nonsense of the ‘digital native’. According to Carr ‘we’ must have had minds formed by papyrus scrolls and printed books in the past, just as our minds are so clearly so different courtesy of the Internet.
Who is this ‘we’? It cannot be everyone.
Carr mentions three friends and their experience of the web … as if these people are representative of all human kind. ‘My friend said to me … at a dinner party the other week … a colleague feels that’. Each of these phrases sounds to me as if it could be a transcript from a dinner party. Nothing wrong with conversation if we recognise its context and so long as this isn’t offered as some kind of evidence.
Carr is using this as evidence though. He cites these anecdotes as if they are representative. ‘ ‘The Shallows’ is hear say from one page to the next. He really ought to be writing fiction. No harm in this, at least Aldous Huxley, H G Wells, Arthur C Clarke and even Asimov differentiate between fiction and fact.
Our thought process has never been linear … and book reading certainly didn’t make it so. If anything the way those of us with permanent access to the internet work with information is more in tune with the scattered, fluid, formative nature of thought. Asking ‘What is the Internet doing to our brains?’ could never be answered
by doctoral research.
The question is too broad and ill defined.
‘In using the word processor I had become something of a wordprocessor myself’ p. 13. A statement that can be applied to anyone, at anytime, acquiring an adaptive skill whether at the piano or with flint tools, whether progamming a computer or building a fence. We ‘become’ these things, or rather acquire a additional skills alongside many others. If we use an iPad to take a picture, offer a book, tot up the shopping bill, play music or a TV show, sketch or chat with a friend on the other side of the world what is it that Carr says we have become? We can do all of these things from one device in a shorter space of time – far from defining or confining us I call this liberating.
If Marshall McLuhan talked of the ‘global village’ of the electrical age of mass media, then today these devices put the world at our sides, in our pocket, at our finertips, and courtesy of Google Glass or an Apple device on our noses and wrist. It doesn’t make us one jot the less human, one jot the less a smart, feeble, fallible and mortal creature with all the same pecadillos that Shakespeare so well described 400 years ago. It is p. 14 a ‘high–tech Swiss Army knife’ which may, or may not demand my attention and can be put down, out away or lost, even forgotten about with equal ease.