Responding to the changes of the Information Age

A recent New Yorker Magazine article entitled “The Information: How the Internet gets inside us” by Adam Gopnik reviews responses to the increasing influence of the internet and social media on society:

A series of books explaining why books no longer matter is a paradox that Chesterton would have found implausible, yet there they are, and they come in the typical flavors: the eulogistic, the alarmed, the sober, and the gleeful.

All this technology that surrounds us certainly has an impact, and we navigate those changes in our own ways. Gopnik lumps authors into three camps: the Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers, and the Ever-Wasers. He critiques all three camps and has some fun along the way:

There is, for instance, a simple, spooky sense in which the Internet is just a loud and unlimited library in which we now live–as if one went to sleep every night in┬áthe college stacks, surrounded by pamphlets and polemics and possibilities.

In the end he points not to the machine, but to us. “The real demon in the machine is the tirelessness of the user.” The crux of the matter is not in the technology or how it networks and pervades our living; it is in our relationship with it.

We manage this relationship through various means, some virtual, others actual. (He points out that a “social network is crucially different from a social circle.”) And, for those of us who are educators by trade, we get to meddle or muddle in on our students’ relationships to technology, especially where it is used in class. Articles such as this help us to step back and take a look at the larger picture, which Educational Technologists help us to find the best application of that technology in our teaching.