Box Logic Notes #1
Where I started this week… with a surprise.
“Indeed, the term interface can be used to conceptualize engagements with all communications media–whether ‘old’ or ‘new.'” (Gane and Beer 55).
“Old” or “New”? Which is better?
This image “Shelved” got me started this week thinking about how we interface with information. I came across this cartoon in an AP style synthesis prompt that I was giving my students for practice. I was surprised by my students’ initial reactions.
This image and the prompt below came from a teacher workbook by Renee Shea that supplements my copy of 50 Essays, A Portable Anthology (Samuel Cohen)
Not what I expected…
With this prompt, my students and I began a conversation about which media or interface is “better” or “best”… the “old” or the “new”? Certainly expecting my students to get their hackles up with the question posed in this prompt, I was surprised to learn that many of them agreed with Bauerlein’s claim. I had assumed that my teenaged students would defend the virtues of new media, but I found that many of them had a “nostalgia” for the printed text. Whether this was from their own experiences or learned from parents and/or teachers, I’m not sure.
Digging a little deeper…
This discussion with my students had me “interfacing” online to find more information about our push-and-pull with new media interfaces. In doing so, I ran across an interesting article in The New Yorker that discusses the death of the printed newspaper.
While Jill Lepore admits, “nostalgia for dead papers is itself pitiful at this point,” she still laments the decline of the printed paper.” As the older generation, we bemoan the loss of older “interfaces” suggesting that somehow print text is inherently superior. I know I’m guilty of this nostalgia, myself. Ironically, though, I have not turned once to a printed newspaper or magazine in my research for this project. I have, however, interfaced with information in multiple new ways via my laptop, phone, online discussion technologies and the like. All of this has made me question the “value” of particular interfaces. Is any one inherently superior to another… or is it more about adapting to the time, audience, and context of the exchange? It is the latter, I think.
And even more surprises…
“…the interface and also how things interface… that enables us to reflect on our constant switched-on-ness” (Gane and Beer 68).
What was even more surprising than my students agreeing with Bauerlein that new media and new media interfaces had somehow made the younger generations “dumber” was a discussion I had with an adult friend of mine about interfacing with new technology. She is an avid book clubber who has just started using a Kindle. When I asked her this morning on our daily run how she liked interfacing with the Kindle over a paper book, she couldn’t stop singing the praises of new media. All the elements of interfacing with a paper book that she thought she would miss (the feel of the paper, knowing how many pages she had left) were non-issues for her. The convenience and immediacy of interfacing with the Kindle far outweighed any downsides. It just goes to show that it’s not necessary just the newer generation that adapts to new media interfaces.
Where I’m heading next week…
“…the interface becomes increasingly ambient and unseen…” (Gane and Beer 64)
Bauerlein, Mark – Young Americans Are the Dumbest Generation. Dir. ReasonTV. Perf. Mark Bauerlein. YouTube. 23 July 2008. 17 Feb. 2019 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzNkW2eyR-I>.
Carter, Erick. “Untitled.” Cartoon. The New Yorker Online. 28 Jan. 2019. The New Yorker. 16 Feb. 2019 <https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/28/does-journalism-have-a-future>.
Chast, Roz. “Shelved.” Cartoon. The New Yorker. October 18, 2010. New York: The New Yorker, 2010.
Gane, Nicholas, and David Beer. “Interface.” New media: The key concepts. Oxford: Berg, 2008. 53-69.
Lepore, Jill. “Does Journalism Have a Future?” The New Yorker. 25 Jan. 2019. The New Yorker. 16 Feb. 2019 <https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/28/does-journalism-have-a-future>.
Ortiz, Mariordo. Kindle Fire and Ipad. Wikimedia Commons. 13 May 2012. 17 Feb. 2019 <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikipedia_ Kindle_Fire_%26_iPad_1440.JPG>.
Shea, Renee. Teacher’s Manual 50 Essays a Portable Anthology. 5th ed. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2004.