My lifestream blog contains a blend of sourced and composed resources that reflect the key themes of Education and Digital Cultures. To fully explore each theme I conducted a series of practical exercises to gain insight from both an institutional and individual perspective. The content of my blog highlights many different points of view on each theme and is reinforced by experimentation that ultimately allowed me to construct knowledge of each topic through experience.
Throughout the course I have questioned if, as human beings, we are supposed to benefit as individuals from digitisation – particularly when studying algorithmic cultures. In studying my own performance and analytical data from an online learning activity, I gained experience of the impact that exposure to learning statistics has on students. I realised that whilst big data and analytics support the notion that digital is better, within education this may only ring true for the institution and not the individual. This was an invaluable experience in connecting my understanding of the course themes to the content of my lifestream blog.
On conclusion, one could also observe a shift in digital culture over time. In the early stages the purpose of digitisation was to assist humans to do basic tasks. This gradually evolved into doing machines performing complex tasks and exceeding the limitations of human form. In the present, we are using technology as an alternative form of intelligence and as a tool for efficiency and predicting the future. Certainly, if transhumanism and cyberpunk ideologies come to pass, then the human form will play a lesser role in both education and the wider society.
Lister, M., Dovey, J., Giddings, S., Kelly, K. (2009). Networks, users and economics. In New media: a critical introduction.M. Lister (Eds.) (London, Routledge): pp. 163-236.
Hi Stuart, I’ve been mulling over this over the week and I think that technology assisted medicine probably still is cyborg-esque in the same way that telephones are, they aren’t physically part of us (yet) but still contribute to our cyborg selves in Miller’s paper. That paper gave me a better understanding of the term cyborg and how to look at everyone now through that lens – we can’t see pacemakers or replacement hips for example sticking with the healthcare link. I now see the cyborgs in our videos as the extreme far end of the cyborg spectrum not the norm.
It’s hard to believe that Block 1 of the course is drawing to a close already. Looking back on my blogging activity over the last three weeks it’s incredible to consider what I have learned from the readings, tutorial sessions, Togethertube sessions and interacting with the blogs of others.
This week I enjoyed the group tutorial on Google Hangouts. It was good to put some faces to names and to discuss the course with my peers. It was handy to have the opportunity to discuss the visual artefact as it had been playing on my mind for a while.
Nevertheless, when it came down to it I really enjoyed creating my artefact. I guess the main reason that I was struggling was over the decision of what theme to cover. I mentioned during the tutorial that my head is full of new and interesting issues about cybercultures and it was difficult to filter through my thoughts to focus on one theme.
In the end I decided on the themes of cyborgs and the influence that cybernetics currently has over the human race and where pogress could take us in the future. My decision was inspired by the contents of an earlier blog post where I touched on the idea of collaborative thinking.
I had been reluctant to consider the possibility of technology penetrating the mind. But as we slowly turn into human/machine hybrids then perhaps we may start to behave more machine like – networked and efficient.
I reviewed my Lifestream content over the past few weeks and noticed that cyborgs and technological intervention seems to be a topic that has been of particular interest to me. So too has the impact of cybernetics on our lives and how the human race has evolved because of it. Therefore my artefact is a blend of the two themes. I have tried to add a timeline overlay to give a feel of where we are now and where we may go in the future
Note: the sound on the video is a little quiet. I would suggest listening with headphones.
In recent a recent post I tried to explain my thinking between mechanical and virtual intervention on the human body and noted that it was difficult for me to imagine machinery penetrating the mind.
Today I stand corrected.
Having read Hamzelou’s (2016) contribution to New Scientist’s article entitled ‘We will soon be able to read minds and share our thoughts‘ I was fascinated by the possibility of collaborative thinking by mapping brain activity. Initially I found the idea really exciting and imagined a new generation of cybernetics where multiple people could contribute to a task without as much as opening their eyes.
However as I referred to in my previous post, I am of the belief that our minds and souls are what make humans unique and different one from another. I therefore began wondering what life would be like and how things such as global politics, the economy or even relationships would withstand a population functioning from unfiltered thoughts taken directly from the brain. I imagine it to be very different indeed.
I also found some irony in the suggestion that the thoughts of multiple human beings could be extracted and stored on a single device – typical of a client/server relationship. Perhaps we are heading towards a network of minds?
If this comes to fruition then the opportunities – in particular for education- could be very exciting indeed. As C.S Lewis once said “Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction”
Hamzelou, J. (2016). We will soon be able to read minds and share our thoughts. Retrieved: 4 February 2017. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23231044-200-we-will-soon-be-able-to-read-minds-and-share-our-thoughts/
Joe Walsh’s song ‘Analogue Man‘ can loosely be related to Sterne’s ‘Histiography of Cyberculture’ and the shift from analog to digital that he describes.
The lyrics of this song tell of a man who is struggling keeping up with the pace of the digital world in which he finds himself. The inspiration for the lyrics were derived from the artist, Joe Walsh, who noticed a significant change in technology between recording his previous album in the late 1980’s and releasing this song in 2012.
The artist is quoted as saying “”There’s a whole new world now that’s digital, and a whole new technology I’ve really had to pay attention to recording this album. “It’s my first real shot at trying to do it all digital. I just say that it’s a whole new world, and it’s virtual, which means it doesn’t really exist. It’s an illusion that’s computer-generated, and it seems to me that we are all spending more and more time in there, while our bodies sit in chairs, waiting for our minds to come back. It’s great.”
“I’m not saying analog’s better,” he continued. “I’m just saying those of us who did the bulk of our recording and songwriting in the analog world have had to make some adjustments, and I’m not sure really if it’s working for us or if we’re working for it. Technology is going so fast. I do know that it ate the record business, and I know that it ate intellectual property. I hope it doesn’t eat me!
Songfacts.com. (2012). Analog Man. Retrieved: 31 January 2017. http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=26420
I have recently finished reading Sterne’s ‘The hystiograpgy of cyberculture’ and was intrigued by some of the thought-provoking suggestions that he offered. When I think of a cyborg I picture a half human/half machine hybrid that has all the personal qualities of a person blended with the enhanced offerings of robotics.
What initially I didn’t think of was the way in which technology can enhance our senses. I appreciate that the focus of Sterne’s piece was of the making of history and the timeline of technological integration, and he clearly states that he is merely using sound as an example to re-enforce his point – however I think his analogy is worthy of reflection.
I recently attended a conference on assistive technologies and one of the keynote speakers, Gareth Ford Williams – Head of Accessibility for the BBC – described the public broadcaster’s efforts to enhance their radio transmissions towards a modernised and futuristic sounding “3D Radio”. In short, they are adopting technology to manipulate our brain’s interpretation of sound to create a better than life experience and to immerse people in transmission rather than passively listening.
The same can be said for virtual reality. Our sense of sight is being manipulated to take us to places that we couldn’t otherwise go. 3D technologies allow us to explore internal organs in their functioning form and explore geographical location outwits our reach. I would suggest that mechanical enhances the physical, virtual enhances the spiritual.
But to what extent to the physical and spiritual need to be enhanced for us to concede that whether we like it or not, technological advances are becoming an integral part of our every day lives and society? Perhaps we have reached the glass ceiling of humanity where we have reached our potential but see and crave the need for more.
I have also been considering the histiography of cyberculture that Sterne proceeds to investigate. He mentions transition from analogue to digital – To that I’d add digital immigrants to digital natives, human to cyborg, offline to online and physical to virtual.
Kelly, S. (2016). The head giving you 3D VR sound. Retrieved: 26 January 2017. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03smbxv
The first week of Education and Digital Cultures has been really quite incredible. Not only because I am in awe at the technologies that we have been using but also the idea of cyberculture and posthumanism.
It really does boggle the mind trying to comprehend the influence that technology has on today’s society and culture, both from the perspectives of where we would be without it and the seemingly limitless places that it will take us to. It is just as difficult trying to imagine a boundary where the human race would be willing to slow technological progress and go it alone.
It is well documented that machines can make us bigger, better, faster, stronger and push us well beyond our physical capabilities, but this week I have been considering the spiritual side of machinism. Can what makes us unique and individual be enhanced through technology? There certainly seems to be an expectation that machine intervention will inevitably lead to improvement. However there is a danger that it can damage the qualities in life that make us function as humans (love, compassion, kindness etc).
Perhaps this is why this week I have noticed a paradox in human beings craving advancement but seemingly unwilling to forgo dominance that they have over the universe – and to that end I introduce you to my new friends Siri, Cortana and Alexa.
Machines help us reach limits that we simply wouldn’t be able to reach on our own. But do they help us develop as a race?