In my book launch yesterday (I'll blog that later), I used a Dad's Army clip to summarise some of the feelinsg of angst and criticism around digital scholarship:
I think this is a pretty good summary of some of the anxieties:
- Doomed – a kind of technological dystopian view, such as Nicholas Carr's The Shallows. It doesn't matter what we do, we're all destined to become stupid, dysfunctional and somehow, lessened by the technology.
- Entombed – the 'we are slaves' to technology type view, for example Lanier's You are not a Gadget. We are placing technology in too powerful a position and dehumanising ourselves in the process. Some of the neurological scaremongering comes under this category too.
- Marooned – the impact on our social behaviour, and society in general. Turkle's Alone Together argues that paradoxically, the more we communicate, the more alone and isolated we are becoming.
I think each of these perspectives has something going for it (apart from the Greenfield nonsense), but at the same time, I feel they are taking a very narrow perspective to make their point, and relying heavily on anecdote and their own perception. For instance in her TED talk Turkle bemoans that many children come out of school and the first thing they see is their parent with their head bowed over the smart phone. And that this is very damaging. This makes we wonder what type of world Turkle is comparing it too – what about when the parents weren't there at all, because they had to work and the kid went home alone? Maybe being connected ia your smart phone allows you to do the school run and liberate the latch-key kid. I don't know if this is true, but it's the difficulty of basing your argument on personal interpretation such as this.
So, anyway, that's my shorthand for digital scholarship angst now – doomed, entombed and marooned.