"We are reading more text, writing far more often, than we were in the heyday of television" #wymhm

It’s no accident that most of the great scientific and technological innovation over the last millennium has taken place in crowded, distracting urban centers. The printed page itself encouraged those manifold connections, by allowing ideas to be stored and shared and circulated more efficiently. One can make the case that the Enlightenment depended more on the exchange of ideas than it did on solitary, deep-focus reading.

Quiet contemplation has led to its fair share of important thoughts. But it cannot be denied that good ideas also emerge in networks.

Yes, we are a little less focused, thanks to the electric stimulus of the screen. Yes, we are reading slightly fewer long-form narratives and arguments than we did 50 years ago, though the Kindle and the iPad may well change that. Those are costs, to be sure. But what of the other side of the ledger? We are reading more text, writing far more often, than we were in the heyday of television.

Right now, I'm reading A Better Pencil, by Dennis Baron. It's a fantastic, timely work about arguments against writing technologies from Plato onward. It also provides excellent counterpoints to Nick Carr and others about the influence of technology on our thinking processes.

"I like your idea of an internet-incapable computer." #wymhm

I’ve set up a second computer, devoid of internet, for my fiction-writing. That’s to say, I took an expensive Mac and turned it back into a typewriter. (You should imagine my computer set-up guy’s consternation when I insisted he drag the internet function out of the thing entirely. “I can just hide it from you,” he said. “No,” I told him, “I don’t want to know it’s in there somewhere.”) In fact, you ask me whether I feel there’s any difference between my fiction and essay—well, not (I ardently hope) either quality or commitment-wise (in that sense, yes, writing is writing), but lately, à la David Shields, process-wise I find I do want to Google while I essay, and while I’m always certain I need that other, internet-disabled computer for writing fiction.
via pen.org

An email correspondence between Jonathan Lethem and David Gates, touching on the influence of technology in all things writing. I have a growing interest in what we deprive ourselves of when we get down to writing, whether we perform better by way of sensory deprivation or overload (writing in silence vs. writing to music), whether we invest in programs like Anti-Social and Freedom and/or simpler word processors like OmmWriter and WriteRoom.

How many of us become cloistered when we write?

"move beyond one dimensional text-only performances in order to assess student learning" #wymhm

Through performances like web log portfolios, slide presentations, digital stories and visually differentiated text, students can demonstrate learning in ways that require them to analyze, synthesize, evaluate and *apply* what they know about a particular content domain.

Today's pedagogical toolbox contains many new media tools that are inexpensive, easy-to-use and widely available.

The new media forms addressed in this site are "low end" in that they employ common hardware, as well as easy to use and free or inexpensive software. As such they represent the media forms that students should be able to read critically and write proficiently today. But tomorrow is a different story. Media forms evolve rapidly, and we are still waiting for educational structures to develop that can recognize and support them within the context of teaching and learning.

"There is a mismatch between institutions of higher education and digital natives on...education" #wymhm

Universities focus on teaching, the process of education, exposing students to instruction for specific periods of time, typically a semester for a course, and four years of instruction for a bachelor’s degree; digital natives are more concerned with the outcomes of education — learning and the mastery of content, achieved in the manner of games. which is why an online game pro will never boast about how long she was at a certain level, but will talk about the level that has been reached.

Higher education and digital natives also favor different methods of instruction. Universities have historically emphasized passive means of instruction — lectures and books — while digital natives tend to be more active learners, preferring interactive, hands-on methods of learning such as case studies, field study and simulations. The institution gives preference to the most traditional medium, print, while the students favor new media — the Internet and its associated applications.

"There is little doubt that the Internet is changing our brain. Everything changes our brain" #wymhm

Carr’s argument also breaks down when it comes to idle Web surfing. A 2009 study by neuroscientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that performing Google searches led to increased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, at least when compared with reading a “book-like text.” Interestingly, this brain area underlies the precise talents, like selective attention and deliberate analysis, that Carr says have vanished in the age of the Internet. Google, in other words, isn’t making us stupid — it’s exercising the very mental muscles that make us smarter.

This doesn’t mean that the rise of the Internet won’t lead to loss of important mental talents; every technology comes with trade-offs. Look, for instance, at literacy itself: when children learn to decode letters, they usurp large chunks of the visual cortex previously devoted to object recognition. The end result is that literate humans are less able to “read” the details of the natural world.