Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Code of Life, she says. We're Cyborgs, she says.

A short essay in the New York Times has been on my desk for months, yellowing at the edges, waiting to be noticed. It's there as a reminder that I've been meaning to say to my higher education friends "Hey, there's something important here, and we should talk about it." So here it is, The Code of Life, where Juliet Waters shares how simple coding has changed the way she looks at the world. Some of the issues she addresses resonate with how we live, teach, navigate the digital world.

"The biggest surprise has been the recovery of the feeling that my mind is once again my own. The “always-on” agenda of mobile technology, now visible to me in the very design of the devices, could not manipulate me as easily. Where my devices were interrupting my work or my life in these ways, I’ve had an easier time filtering and controlling them," she says.

I address this notion of owning your space all the time when explaining digital literacy. I teach meta-control of digital objects to my students. I yell responsibility from the rafters regarding core curriculum for the 21st century. I often address how the next generation is assumed to (ALL, universally) have a high technical understanding. They don't. They have gadgets, and use them in singular ways. They ARE a little more fearless with new gadgets than the previous generation. Young people are increasingly visual and love to take pictures, often selfies, but few of my students blog or tweet or reflect on who they are presenting as their digital self. 

Waters addresses the power that a deeper understanding allows, even the simple power of being able to look behind the curtain of html. She also delves a bit into the hysteria of those who aren't interested in new literacies - especially the kings of text who resent giving up their supremacy - and how little they understand of the world most of us now inhabit, plugged into our smartphones, ipads, ipods, tablets, kindles...often all at once. We are all cyborgs now, as Amber ase so eloquently tells us, but we do NOT need to be slaves of our machine culture or the people watching us from the analog world. We are free.