Friday, June 8, 2012

You are not a gadget is a great title. I enjoyed many aspects of this work as well as most of the points outlined and addressed concerning the over use and dependence on technology.  Although I am one of the least active members of the technological world and social community then most people my age, I do not restrict my access out of fear or concern that it is destroying our ability to conduct our lives without its use.  I am not pessimistic about its use, however, I firmly believe that educators, parents, and mentors should use technology to its best abilites but also teach its limitations, opportunities for abuse, and ways to avoid the negative effects that inevitably arise with any new technology.

I recently saw an excellent program, of course it was on PBS, about technology, capitalism, and culture.  The program highlighted how each has revolutionized the world but with each advance came negative side effects or by-products.  I viewed this book in much the same light.  I kept thinking about the parallels with this book and the episode entitled "Civilization".  With each great advancement, the world has been revolutionized and billions of people have had their lives transformed.  The advancements and innovations that are created help uplift millions out of poverty and improve the health and well being of many.  Of course with anything, especially if money is involved, the chance for abuse, greed, and inequality is a concern, but I believe the good outweighs the bad, we just need to be vigilant and hope that morality overcomes greed.

Many of my colleagues, through the discussion and their blog posts, mentioned many of the same sentiments, however, I'm not sure how much they appreciate the world wide implications that technology has.  Although most people in the U.S, especially teens, would consider the outage of internet, phones, and other devices to be devastating, the truth is that they would be fine.  The loss of technology would be an inconvience but not life threatening.  However, for some in the world, it could have devastating affects on people.  If people lost their phone access in our country, there is still plenty they could do to keep in touch and most likely it would not put their life in jeopoadry.  Such a loss would be merely an inconviencThink about the Arab spring uprisings.  Technology played such an important part in instigating, organizing, and protecting the members of the uprising.  How the Arab spring turns out is yet to be determined, but there is no doubt that its effects were tremendous and changed the lives of millions.  That is much more important and transformational than simply not being able to text or post to face book.  Another example is my friends in Jamaica.  I know a family of nine that live on the top of mountain, deep in Westmoreland Parish.  A simple cell phone is essential to their daily lives.  They have no electricity, water, or any of the simple comforts that most people take for granted.  However, they do have access to cell phones and use it in many ways that help them to earn a living and get rides for their kids to school or to the market for food.  Most importantly, almost everyone on the mountain also has a cellphone and since they live in the country, they pretty much know everyone else in the hills.  The police and army are particularly corrupt and abusive to many of the poor farmers and families.  The cell phone is a life line to them.  As soon as the police or army pulls onto the one way mountain road, the first person to spot them starts a chain call that alerts everyone to be careful and get out of the way.  Most Americans cannot fathom or even bother to think about what life is like in countries like the Middle East or Jamaica and how a simple cellphone, one that they wouldn't be caught dead with, could actually save lives.

I kind of went off topic a little but I wanted to point out that despite any negative side effects of dependence on technology, people living in economic and political comfort do not appreciate the role technology can play in making life easier and safer.

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