Week 5 – Mantra

Technology has great potential to bring people together, but it can also be used to avoid direct contact.  I often find myself using technology to avoid interaction.  I find I prefer communicating via email rather than voice.  Much of the work I do know is via the internet.  Part of the reason I chose the distributed learning model was to work independently and not have the social burdens that come with traditional ground schools.  I find myself using digital citizenship to become an analog hermit.  This is not the best way to use technology.  So I have a chosen a mantra that reminds me not use technology to avoid the world.


I will not use technology to avoid the rest of the world.  I will use technology to embrace it.

And here it is in Haiku:

I will not use my
technology to avoid.
I embrace the world


Week 4

McLuhan’s tetrad could have predicted the direction gaming would take. Released in 2005, the Nintendo Wii, despite lacking many of the features it competitors had, went on to be the best selling game system for nearly a decade.  The Wii did not have HD graphics or a multi-gigabyte hard drive.  What did have was a revolutionary and innovative game interface.  This interface brought back something that had been lacking in the gaming world—physical movement.   The gaming medium in a big way retrieved something that had been thought obsolesced by earlier gaming systems. 

The entire ark of the gaming market fits well into McLuhan’s tetrad.  Beginning in the 1970’s, gaming companies were constantly trying to meet the consumer’s desire for better systems and better games.  Early on, the gaming experience required going to communal gaming centers, but advancing technology allowed home systems to become popular.  The quality of home systems quickly obsolesced the need to leave one’s house in order to experience the best gaming had to offer.

Home gaming technology has progressed steadily.   From simple 8-bit graphics, in three decades it has reached full HD digital quality.  With each new system, manufacturers attempted to make gaming seem more like real life.  Improved A.I. on each system provided a greater feeling of playing an actual person.  In a way, as A.I. progressed, with each new iteration it brought back the feeling of interacting with a living, breathing opponent.

As the gaming system was pushed to extremes, it became smaller and smaller.  Portable systems that allowed gaming almost anywhere became popular, but did not replace the home systems.  Like larger units, the portables have become faster, smarter and have HD screen quality.

Once the internet became stable enough for platform gaming, its role provided gaming with something that seemed impossible—communal multiplayer.  Games were no longer limited to the number of controllers on a single unit.  Now players in different houses, different countries, and different continents could play a single game.  Not only did this bring back community feel that private gaming seemed to have destroyed, it globalized the community.

Up to this point, gaming had gone from communal, to private and to global.   With the addition of the internet, gaming was now more like a game of pick-up baseball, any one could join in.  The only physical movement electronic gaming required was the fingers pushing buttons on a controller, all other was needless or obsolete.  Then in 2005, Nintendo unveiled the Wii.  In what was probably the biggest retrieval of obsolescence, Nintendo had created a system with games requiring physical movement.  At first, there were only a few games like tennis, pool, baseball and bowling.  As time went on, more movement based games were added to the library and more equipment.  Eventually a user could complete an entire workout routine with just the Wii.

The familiarity of movement to play games also opened up a new market.  Older individuals, not as physical capable as they once were, could play on the Wii.   This group had never used hand controllers for playing games, they had grown up playing physical, real-world games.  The fact that these individuals were comfortable with new technology shows an unusual level of technological reversal.  Digital bowling was now more like real-life bowling, but could being done at home and without bodily strain.

Seeing the success movement added to gaming, Sony and Microsoft both attempted similar products.  Sony’s PlayStation Move failed to make much of a splash with consumers.  Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect, however, did well.  The Kinect provided yet another reversal of obsolescence, movement didn’t require a controller, a camera followed the user.  This made interacting with the Kinect more natural, all one had to do was move and they were playing the game. 

McLuhan’s tetrad is so well conceived that it can be applied to technology that was still in its infancy when he died.  It’s easy to see how each new generation of gaming technology enhanced and obsolesced previous versions, but was not as easy to see the retrieval until physical interaction became prominent.

Week 3


Does the reading this on a computer change the message that is being sent?  Perhaps if this were a book or newspaper the information being conveyed would interpreted differently.  Maybe if this were on a billboard or canvas the message would seem more profound.  What if the font were different? Or color? Or size? There are a number of factors that play a part in how an intended message is received.

If someone writes in all cap letters is the message changed?  Marshall McLuhan would probably say yes.  Sensory input is influenced by the very instruments that convey the stimulus (McLuhan, 1967).  All caps email communication is likely to have a different impact than an all caps book title, even if it’s all the same words.  Interpretation of the message is impacted by mediums which produce the stimulus, whether its a sound, image, smell, taste or feel. 
The devices that allow us to experience sensation beyond limitations are extensions of these senses (McLuhan, 1967).  Billboards are an extension of the eyes; radio stations an extension of ears; deodorizers an extension of nose; haptic devices an extension of skin, and molecular gastronomy an extension of the tongue.  Perhaps more than allowing the world come to us, technology allows us to go into the world.  We like for those extensions to feel as familiar as the previous extension (McLuhan, 1967).  Therefore, cellphones work similar to rotary phones; IBM Thinkbooks have the same keyboard as an IBM Selectric; iPod ear buds are similar to Sony Walkman headphones.  The technology changes, but the need to feel comfortable with it remains the same.

Medium of transmission plays a role in the interpretation of messages.  Different media impacts perception in varying ways.  The goal of new media is transmit information in a similar way to it’s predecessor because there is a level of comfort in the familiar (McLuhan, 1967).  McLuhan would likely interpret our current state of technology as a way to bring our increasingly globalized world back to an intimate tribal feeling.


McLuhan, M., Fiore, Q.  (1967). The Medium is the Massage.   San Francisco: Hardwired.




Week 2

Citizenship has had many meanings since the ideas was first established.  In ancient times it simply meant to belong or be part of a group, whether a military troop or an established city state (Ohler, 2010).  As nations grew, its meaning took on a more specific definition, linking a person to a country or place which endowed the citizen and government with certain duties and responsibilities (Ohler, 2010).  As the borders are eroded by electronic connectedness, individuals are able to interact freely across the globe, the idea of citizenship has again become  less about a specific place, and more akin to the original idea of belonging freely to a group.  Despite the fact that digital citizenship now expands the globe, very little has been done to prepare digital citizens.

Based on recent data from the Media Literacy Project , little is being done to include the ideas of digital citizenship in school curriculum.  Children today are digital natives, growing up in a world surrounded by these technologies, as opposed to earlier generations that immigrated or assimilated to these ever evolving innovations (Ohler, 2010).  This proposed curriculum focuses on more than just the nuts and bolts and technology, but how people interact via the digital world.  Schools generally teach social appropriateness even if it’s not part of the official curriculum.  This is not necessarily true for digital interactions.

One group has created nine elements of digital citizenship—access, communication, commerce, literacy, etiquette, law, security, rights and responsibilities, health and wellness (Ribble, 2014).  Each of these elements have curriculum that is taught to children so they can understand and navigate the digital world safe and effectively (Ribble, 2014).  This needn’t be difficult as many of the same real life skills can be applied to digital interactions.

Media literacy and digital citizen go hand-in-hand and could be taught as a single course.  There are numerous resources for schools looking to teach about media literacy, but very few include in their curriculum (How To Teach Media Literacy in the Classroom , 2014).  Many of the elements of digital citizenship listed above could be crossed with media literacy to create a curriculum that covers both.

Despite the initiative to increase technology use, most schools do not provide education on navigating the digital world.  In a world where everyone with access to the internet is in contact with an ever expanding digital audience, the ability to understand and navigate this world is imperative.  In a digitally connected culture, how the individual represents him/herself online may be as important, if not more important, than how he/she acts in face-to-face interactions.

Works Cited

How To Teach Media Literacy in the Classroom . (2014, Feb 2). Retrieved from Understand Media: http://www.understandmedia.com/index.php/ml-pta/26-how-to-teach-media-literacy-in-the-classroom

Ohler, J. (2010). Digital Community, Digital Citizen. Corwin.

Ribble, M. (2014, Feb 1). Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship. Retrieved from Digital Citizenship: Using Technology Effectively: digitalcitizenship.net

Rose, F. (2012). The Art of Immersion. New York: Norton & Company.