Another Semester comes to a close
Here we are at the end of another semester of NKDA. Much as we had planned the course revolved around timely discussions of the nature of technology and its role in society, giving students an introduction to some of the social forces of the Internet.
We started with the question: Do tools matter? Here, the ideas of Marshall McLuhan, proved insightful. Mcluhan showed the world how it is 'we shape our tools and forever thereafter they shape us', and how 'we become what we behold'.
From there we used Weaving the Web, written by Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the Web, to probe and extrapolate its awesome power and that of internetworking in general. This course also asked you to do your part in directing our studies by taking on a research project which you completed in three formal iterations and a presentation. In this sense the course also focused on your writing skills, on how we use language and images to express ourselves, and on how the new networking age is affecting communication and expression. This semester I made a special effort to incorporate more web-based audio and video into our meetings.
Turning from the question 'do tools matter?' to the question 'does the structure, or architecture, of our tools (in this case our communication systems) matter' we explored the unique opportunities afforded by internetworking, and the bias of centralization and control among many traditional forms of media. As was increasingly noticed the word decentralized came be used ad nauseum! The powerful new modes of communication afforded to individuals by the architecture of the Internet stand in stark contrast to that of, say, broadcasting. Indeed, the structure of our communication tools matter -incredibly so!
Please take some time now to reflect upon these ideas now that they have each been, at least partially, explored and presented here together. In a recursive, rhizomatic way fitting of the very insights they help to illuminate, they reveal important forces of a very profound and ongoing sociotechnical (r)evolution. What do they say about today's media landscape? about society? about politics? And what do they say about our future?
Thank you all for a wonderful semester. Have a wonderful holiday. I hope that our discussions and these ideas have given you something further to think about and to use.
Posted by Mark Hemphill on December 2, 2005 | Permalink
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