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Apr 21

Digital Traffic Accidents Waiting to Happen

I find it interesting that the reason we need to blog in our modern age is so that we can reflect and get our thoughts out and organized in this larger world. Once, people did that in their communities; around an activity like sewing circles, or while doing their jobs. But, in as much as technology has expanded our idea of community it has required that we connect with a larger, mostly faceless, “neighborhood”. It is no longer adequate to share your thoughts with just those people you personally know and engage in physical interactions. The requirement now is to have your story told to the world. In some ways it’s like reality TV. Do we all need to know what it’s like to be a housewife in all the major US cities? Do we even care what life is like for a family in New Jersey? Isn’t there some kind of twisted voyeurism going on here? At some point, isn’t too much information, at the very least, distracting, or worse, harmful?

I recognized, while reading this new information, that my school is sorely lacking in providing the skills necessary for our students to navigate this new world adequately and safely.  They are travelers on a highway, some are very proficient in their own driving skills, but few understand the rules of the road and the dangers inherent in this activity. Have they considered things like their digital shadow? How much of their privacy is being willingly given away at break neck speeds without knowing who it’s available to? Do they recognize what is appropriate content for a world wide audience? Some of these skills can be learned by experience, but at what cost? We’ve seen internet bullying kill.

Then I started to get concerned for my own safety. With the technological revolution the learning process seems to be, “Well try it and learn from your mistakes”. However, there’s a lot of damage have a gun and say: “Play around with it for a while, and learn from your mistakes”. If you are unorganized on the internet, with things like passwords or website, you could easily get your identity stolen. If you share too much personal information, you could lose your job. Or, in some cases, others can attack you and cause severe damage. In this new world, how do we protect ourselves?

I don’t even have a context with which to assess how I’m “driving” on this highway compared to my peers. I calculated my digital footprint and it was almost 5000 megabytes. Is that large? For all I know I could be a 200 lb. woman amongst sumo wrestlers and I think I’m small!  The fact remains that this journey is one we are all compelled to take. The technological revolution is simply the direction the world is going, and if I don’t learn to drive on those freeways, and teach my students to drive those freeways safely, we will be left behind or worse, run over.

 

 

 

1 comment

  1. Kim Cofino

    Good analogy! Even if you feel like you are new to thinking about all of this, you are certainly heading in the right direction. Considering the implications of a much more public life, learning how to share appropriately and how to learn in a networked community are all important aspects of navigating the digital age. You are not putting your head in the sand and ignoring it, you’re learning and trying to build your own understanding. Your students will be better off for it!

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