Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Reorganizing Learning and Wark's Tactical Intellectual, Wed Section

During the lecture on Monday, Professor Chun reiterated to us that learning is disconcerting. The approach we’ve taken to analyzing digital medias in class in my mind echoes Wark’s approach to becoming the tactical intellectual. We have used vectors to connect poststructuralist theory with analyses of the internet, with literature, with youtube videos, with cyberspace…

Cyberspace itself, as we have already acknowledged in class, reorganizes our conceptions of time and space. It is fitting then that we should reorganize our understanding of the way in which digital medias operate. Wark hints at the insufficiency of scholarship and its timing—a sad failure on the part of academia perhaps. Wark notes, “In an age when transnational media flows are running across all those academic specialties, perhaps it is time to construct a discourse that follows the flow of information (and power) across both the geographic and conceptual borders of discourse” (274).

Mary Shelley’s piece that we “read” or navigated through during lab last week asserted that form is now separate from content. In this way, we are not only learning new content—which is never really that disconcerting—but new forms. We are “running across all those academic specialties” in an attempt to relearn learning.

Digital medias, thus, not only change our understanding of the world but also the way in which we understand it. In many ways, Wark’s piece reminds me of Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat in which Friedman points out that technology has flattened out space and made our world smaller. Friedman’s world is a grid onto which Wark maps vectors. How can a world made flatter become more complex? Is it because we now destroying the boundaries between Wedom and Theydom?

3 comments:

Sophie Savryn said...

Also to what extent is our understanding of the world organized by diametrical oppositions? Wark keeps referencing a third nature and he stipulates that: "it is important not to respond stupidly, reactively, with a reflexive negation that merely reproduces the dialectical terms of Wedom and Theydom" (273). Is the internet and digital medias that are offering us an alternate virtual reality destroying an implicit structure of diametrical tensions?

Sophie Savryn said...

Lastly, and this is just a side note, when we were learning about Foucault and the shift away from visible and transparent punishment, I remembered a short story I read by Kafka called "The Penal Colony." It has a lot to do with the transparency of the sign and visible punishment. He writes about a machine that punishes its victims by inscribing their punishment via needle into their bodies. I thought this was a cool literary take on what we discussed last lecture.

Ellen Loudermilk said...

I want to address something that you have brought up, which I've copied below.

You said, "We are 'running across all those academic specialties' in an attempt to relearn learning. Digital medias, thus, not only change our understanding of the world but also the way in which we understand it."

In the world of education technology, the biggest speed bump to using technology to help us learn is getting technology and new media into classrooms. Where does one start in trying to do that? With the school administration, teachers, or parents? Wark hints at this by asking us to embrace the flow of information into formal teaching and learning, but how will this actually happen?

The big issue facing the world education is that it is stuck in the past. If we were to seek out a way to teach hundreds of students with few professors, having all the multimedia resources available to us that we now have, we would likely come up with a drastically different system than the traditional lecture hall.

Our generation, referred to as the Net Generation, craves that individual experience that technology gave us from an early age. We have had the power to go anywhere and do anything through new media and the internet. Then suddenly, we get to college and that power is withdrawn. Some subjects build in one-on-one activities, such as science labs, but other humanities subjects have more difficulty embracing the influence new media can have.

Maybe that is what we need, though, since we have every other hour of the day when we are not in class to explore the world of media on our own.

I want to conclude by returning to the question of where to start improving learning with technology. Do we need to start with current teachers? Future teachers? School administration? Or does it need to come, ambitiously, from students?