Archive | September 2011

When do we say it is too much??

I was reading Computers and Human Behavior by Kirschner and Kirpinski (2010) and this came to my mind:

This overexposure and “usage” of FB reminds me of Rockmelt browser that would have had users logged onto FB 24/7 as well as other social networking sites

and the new HTC Status phone with a separate FB button.

When do we say it is too much?

Virtual Environments and “Life on Line”

What are your thoughts about virtual environments and “life on line?” Do you feel there is a correlation between life on line and academic achievement, for better or worse?

First of all, I would like to say that I enjoyed the readings especially how Pasek (2009) and Karpinski (2009) went back and forth trying to devalue each other’s research/work regarding Facebook and its effects on student’s academic performance. It is always fun to see a back and forth frenzied(?) debate over scholarly achievement and work.

I would like to start with this little anecdote(?):

When I lived in South Korea attending middle school, students were not allowed to put on make up, wear jewelry, shorten the uniform’s skirt above our knee line, have pins in our hair, and wear socks that were not white or black. The claim was that the less the students worry about their appearance the more they would focus on studying. That was not necessarily true. When there were not as much social media stuff back in the days, there were manga, video games, board games, etc. Just because Facebook emerged does not necessarily mean that students in general are spending MORE time procrastinating. I think it is more like students spend almost the same amount of time procrastinating except more and more of that time is spent on Facebook more so than anything else. What do ya’ll think?

Now, moving on to Virtual Environments and “Life on Line”…
When I first read this week’s guiding question for our blog posts, I immediately thought about the concept of ‘possible selves’ that Professor Joey Lee mentioned in Core Seminar 4000 yesterday night.

For those of you who were not as familiar as I was about the concept:

“Possible selves represent individuals’ ideas of what they might become, what they would like to become, and what they are afraid of becoming, and thus provide a conceptual link between cognition and motivation. Possible selves are the cognitive components of hopes, fears, goals, and threats, and they give the specific self-relevant form, meaning, organization, and direction to these dynamics. Possible selves are important, first, because they function as incentives for future behavior (i.e., they are selves to be approached or avoided) and second, because they provide an evaluative and interpretive context for the current view of self” (Link to article).

“Scholars have examined possible selves with regard to a host of adolescent outcomes, including academic achievement, school persistence, career expectations, self-esteem, delinquency, identity development and altruistic behaviors…Educationally, what has been learned about possible selves offers a unique and viable approach to helping adolescents learn ways to identify and work toward attainable self-goals in the academic and career domains” (Link to article).

I definitely agree that there could be a positive component about having an “alternative ego” online that represents somebody you would like to become one day. I definitely feel like people are usually going to go with an image or alternative ego that seems “better” than what we are currently in the physical world. So, if the virtual ego helps people keep dreaming and aiming higher, I am all for it. I would not know for sure but I believe once the confidence and the drive is there (because of the virtual ego), then, just maybe, eventually students’ academic performance could improve one day. I know from my experience as a teacher a lot of students have the capability to perform better academically, but more so than often they believe they simply cannot accelerate and do better because of a lack in confidence and belief in themselves.

The Concept of ‘Information Society’

What concept or idea intrigued you most in this week’s readings? How does it relate to your thinking about the questions and issues raised in last week’s readings?

It is interesting to see some of the aspects of our society that people in the 1980s were predicting that would happen with the emergence of the notion of “Information Society.” In the third paragraph after the abstract in Crawford’s (1983) those futuristic expectations are listed: (1) elimination of diseases and therefore a creation of a utopian society, (2) widespread availability of birth control pills, (3) professionals and technicians’ emergence as an upper class, etc.

Some of the things that were mentioned really have come true: birth control pills have become widely available to a very big audience, many professionals and particularly technicians are being paid a lot more than many businessmen, who nowadays face harsh economic pressures with the worldwide economic downturn.

All these changes can be attributed to the fact that we might have entered the so called, “Knowledge/Information Society.” Machlup (1962) and Porat (1977) defined the meaning of ‘Information Society’ in different ways according to Crawford (1983). The stark difference that struck me was how they viewed the basic unit comprising an information society differently: the former thought it was an organization or individual as opposed to an information activity, which is what Porat believed. Knowing these two basic units that these scholars defined I would say the basic unit should be the information activity an organization or individual conducts.

This resonates with some of the issues we have raised last week about how there seems to be a blend of “soft” and “hard” determinism in terms of how we view the relationship between history and technological development. We have covered examples from both the “soft” and “hard” determinists’ sides to know that sometimes technology happened and societal changed occurred or a specific technology was needed and therefore developed and in turn changed the society accordingly.

Two Questions

Write your first post: present 2 questions that have arisen from readings and/or discussions in class so far, and reflect on why these may or may not be important to both your personal and academic interests.


In their introduction, Marx and Smith claim that “the advance of technology leads to a situation of inescapable necessity” (p. xii), meaning that a certain technological advancement and its subsequent usage leaves us with well-nigh alternatives but to use that particular technology. There is no going back to the times when we did not have that piece of technology. Is this necessarily true? Are there any examples of us retrograding to a point in time where a piece of technology was not yet developed?

For example, I can think of plenty of things that we cannot live without now that we have the technology and the resources to afford it: air conditioning, dependence on the Internet, vehicles for transportation, electricity, refrigeration, traffic regulations aided by traffic lights, computerization of massive data such as the census (though initially collected in paper – but then paper was also invented through technology), etc.

It is easy to think of those examples in which technology has added more and more inescapable necessities in our lives. Are there any examples in which the technology advancement did not improve our lives or it did but now it is not being used any longer?

Do Machines Make History? – Notes on the reading

Technology – “a strong ‘mediating factor’ rather than as the determining influence on history” (p. 53)

  • The view: “there  exists a determinate sequence of productive technology for those societies that are interested in originating and applying such a technology” (p. 56).

Evidence (1) The simultaneity of invention
(2) The absence of technological leaps
(3) The predictability of technology

  • The 2nd proposition: “a given technology imposes certain social and political characteristics upon the society in which it is found” (p. 59).

Modes of influence (1) The composition of the labor force
(2) The hierarchical organization of work

  • A few things to consider for the views and propositions suggested above…

(1) Technological progress is itself a social activity
(2) The course of technological advance is responsive to social direction (the direction of technological advance is partially the result of social policy)
(3) Technological change must be compatible with existing social conditions

  • Q. What is the mediating role played by technology within modern Western society?

(1) The rise of capitalism provided a major stimulus for the development of a technology of production
(2) The expansion of technology within the market system took on  a new “automatic” aspect
(3) The rise of science gave a new impetus to technology

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