John D Radcliff, Specializing in Interactive Technology & Education!

First Week Assignment, mental laziness and information overload

          One issue I see in the readings and video is that people are overwhelmed with information.  This allows people to become out of touch with themselves, other people and allow their minds to become lazy.

        For example, Socrates would not write anything down since he existed in an oral culture who saw writing as a new technology.  The only way we were able to get access to his works was through his students who wrote down his oral presentations.  Plato's Socrates states that writing destroys memory and that someone who uses writing will become forgetful.  He saw writing as a new form of technology which distracted and disconnected people.  He felt that oral presentations were the way that people could truly express themselves and authentically connect with other people. 

        In today's world we are relying more on technology to think or process information for us instead of thinking for ourselves.  We are so overloaded with information we do not really connect or think about things or people, instead we just react.  For example, we have our cell phones or mobile devices with us and on all the time.  When our phones ring or buzz we feel obliagated to answer them.  Then when our technology breaks or we forget our technology (leave our cell phone at home), we fell naked and lost.  The same is true when communicating with people or trying to do a math calculation in our head.  Instead of trying to do the math calculation in our head, we pull out our cell phone and use the built in calculator to solve the problem.  This eliminates errors and increases accuracy but also makes us dependent on a device to solve a problem for us.

        In the realm of communication, we have gone from talking to people on the phone to having the phone communicate or talk to people for us.  This can be seen as people being lazy or covert when wanting to communicate as seen when people use text messaging.  A couple of days ago, I was on a conference call and asked someone on the call to call another person who was not on the call.  Instead of calling the individual they sent a text message to the person which did not have the same impact of dialing the other persons number to have them be on the call.  This is easier to do but makes us evasive and lazy not wanting to use our mental energy to engage in a conversation with another human being.

        This is the same point that Plato's Socrates was talking about in that writing (texting) weakens the mind and that those who use writing will become forgetful.  Forgetful to the point of people using text messaging as a means of thinking they have reached out and commuincated to another person.  Instead, when a text message is sent, it is one phone transmitting data to another phone.  It is up to the other person to respond back to the other phones text message so in reality people are just communicating to devices instead of live people.

        Linda Stone makes some great points about how we are moving into a different era.  She argues that we are now moving from the information overload era to the quality of life era, and using technology to create a better quality of life.  She also sees that people are seeking filters and time away from technology to allow people to become more productive thinkers and users of technology.
The wisdom age is were she says we are heading, using technology to seek wisdom and propel ourselves into a search for knowledge.  We are being selective with processing information by using filters and other activities to give us a break so we can become greater information or data workers. (yoga, exercise, blocks of time breaks, etc.).

        I agree with Linda which is we need to take a break from our technology to have a good quality of life and be fully productive in society.  I especially see this in cell phones since they are with us all of the time and are becoming more like a computer then a phone.   I have seen people at malls walking around as they are looking at their phones and not paying attention to their surroundings.  Retail stores are now making us more dependant on our phones by partnering with Facebook, so when we are at a mall shopping for a particualr product, the store will send a special discount ad to our Facebook page when we are physically near the store.  Another example of this is Laduni's restraunt at NorthPark Mall were they will text you on your cell phone when your table is ready.  Technology, especially mobile technology has become so engrained in our daily lives that it is hard to get away from it or put it down.  I think people need to follow Linda's advice in order to have a great quality of life!