Our everyday contingent on obscure factors

…we’ve invited technical standards bodies, national- and supranational-level regulators, and shadowy hackers into the innermost precincts of our lives. As a result, our ability to perform the everyday competently is now contingent on the widest range of obscure factors—things we’d simply never needed to worry about before, from the properties of the electromagnetic spectrum and our moment-to-moment ability to connect to the network to the stability of the software we’re using and the current state of corporate alignments.

A Sociology of the Smartphone on Longreads


The World, it is a Changin’

Head on view of a Rotary Phone
Head on view of a Rotary Phone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s hard to argue about the impact that technology and the internet have had on our society. “Revolutionized” is one word that springs to mind. That word may seem radical, but consider this: in order to make a phonecall, we used to have to turn a rotary dial with our fingers and wait for it to spin around with each and every single digit! Unbelievable! Imagine all that time we wasted standing there waiting for that dial to turn back around, when we could have been tweeting. . .

In recognition of this rapid and momentous change in our lives, there has been an increasing effort to bring the contemporary technologically driven world down into the bolted-down-desk backwaters of our schools. After all, our children are digital natives. I’m not quite sure what this term means, other than that our kids are consummate consumers and know how to touch a screen to download porn or a new game. But it seems to imply that if we don’t keep them entertained and attached to the drip feed of a lit screen, we may be losing oodles of minutes to ever constant brain stimulus.

Teachers, also, have been a-clamoring for access to laptops and netbooks and what not. Not simply because they can play games, but because their administrators keep haranguing them to input numbers into spreadsheets. The old gradebook just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore in today’s “data-driven” world. It’s much more efficient to crunch numbers on the computer — you can make charts and stuff, which helps principals out a lot because they like seeing things visualized (hint: use lots of color). These charts then can be foisted onto visitors to the building, along with printouts of the state standards, demonstrating how student growth is aligned to AYP targets. See, didn’t that sound good? Come on over here and look at this nice, colorful bulletin board!

Anyway, let me just say this: technology is cool. It’s going to revolutionize education. Everything is going to be personalized, differentiated, and individualized for each and every single learner. It’s going to be amazing! Wake me when we get there. . .