Text without Context Or the Case for Digital Humanism

Dear Commons Community,

Today’s NY Times has an article (see URL below) by Michiko Katutani that considers what Web 2.0, social networking, twitter, etc. have brought upon our culture, what we read and maybe how we think.  It is a fairly heady piece with a number of references for a reading list of critics of the effects of the new media.  Among the better recommendations are Jaron Lanier’s  new book, “You Are Not a Gadget,” of how online collectivism, social networking and popular software designs are changing the way people think and process information, a question of what becomes of originality and imagination in a world that prizes “metaness” and regards the mash-up as “more important than the sources who were mashed” and which makes an impassioned case for “a digital humanism.”   Other important references are  Farhad Manjoo’s “True Enough,” which examines how new technologies are promoting the cultural ascendancy of belief over fact;  “The Cult of the Amateur,” by Andrew Keen, which argues that Web 2.0 is creating a “digital forest of mediocrity” and substituting ill-informed speculation for genuine expertise; and Nicholas Carr’s book “The Shallows” (coming in June), which suggests that increased Internet use is rewiring our brains, impairing our ability to think deeply and creatively even as it improves our ability to multitask.  I have read the Andrew Keen book and highly recommend it.  All of this has enormous implications for educators and those of us who are trying to inspire students to read and go into great depth into issues, stories, topics, etc.


The NY Times article is available at:


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