Broadcast Domain

Changing our views has always been hard for us, as humans. It is my belief that it’s one of the greatest, most important things we learn how to do. We have found that our adaptability makes us the most incredible animal on the planet. Technology allows us to better adapt to our environment, which allows us to live anywhere, anytime.

Now (as always) technology is changing our culture, and we seem to be having trouble adapting to it. Information is available to us in so many ways, but our love for tradition is tripping us up once again.

A majority of educators believe that the prevalence of technology, especially the internet, is reducing the amount of time that children spend reading books. This concerns them greatly, as children reading books has always been the benchmark for reading in the past. The internet is a bunch of pictures and videogames! They’re probably downloading porn, or something!

I’m fairly certain we know better.

I regulate my daughter’s internet usage, and pay attention to what she’s doing on the net. Although games are played, and silly videos are watched, a large amount of reading is also taking place.

Also, you’re using the internet this very moment, and you’re doing it to read.

Although the use of pictograms and design has grown as globalization comes upon us, reading is still our fundamental resource for gathering language based information. We talk to each other more than ever through the use of technology, but we also put more information down on paper (or e-paper, as the case may be) than ever before.

E-mail may have hurt the U.S. Postal system in a small way, but it’s my belief that more than half the emails ever written would never have gone by post. That’s not even counting the 18,000 spam/chain emails our parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles/cats seem to forward to us every day.

We read because we can. “Seeing is believing” is the famous quotation, and it’s basically true for humans. We believe our sight more readily than any other sense. If a video shows a car coming down the street with the sound of horse hooves clip-clopping, you do not ask why the horse looks like a car.

Written language is leaving the book as educators know it, and moving to the digital realm. E-books, .pdf documents, and HTML 5.0 are its new mediums. Children will read their books there. They’ll cite sources gotten from Wikipedia in their homework (remember not to cite Wikipedia itself, kids!).  They’ll write blogs they never would have written in the old days, and be read by 10s, 100s, or 1000s of people.

We’re reading more than ever. Written language isn’t dying, or being codified and forgotten. It’s escaping the written page. It did it before, with Gutenberg’s press, and it does it again in the world of technology.

The ability to write a story, a poem, a treatise, a Wikipedia article, a blog, a rant, or a technical document with RFC now lies in the hands of every one of us. Some have known this for 15 years. Some did it the old way, on paper, finding their way through the vast sea of publishers and editors. Some still don’t know.

The stories have so many ways out, it’s incredible. It can only lead to incredible things.

“Because there is a natural storytelling urge and ability in all human beings, even just a little nurturing of this impulse can bring about astonishing and delightful results.” —Nancy Mellon


~ by Benjamin Kenneally on December 1, 2009.

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