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I NFLUENCE OF C OMPUTERS ON C ULTURE Denise Hunter COMP 3851 November 25, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "I NFLUENCE OF C OMPUTERS ON C ULTURE Denise Hunter COMP 3851 November 25, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 I NFLUENCE OF C OMPUTERS ON C ULTURE Denise Hunter COMP 3851 November 25, 2009

2 L ET T HEM E AT D ATA : How Computers Affect Education, Cultural Diversity, and the Prospects of Ecological Sustainability By C.A. Bowers 2000

3 M OST D OMINATE C HARACTERISTIC OF A C OMPUTER ? “It is a cultural mediating and thus transforming technology” (Bowers p. vii) Computers are a medium of influence on culture.

4 C ULTURE In what context are we using culture? “The culture concept...denotes an historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbol systems of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by which men [and women] communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life” (Geertz, p.89) Channelled through language. Root metaphors. Metacommunication.

5 R OOT M ETAPHORS Deeply embedded into the language and culture of a particular group and are often not realized. Foundation of thoughts and actions of a cultural group. Some examples we encounter: “information highway” “electronic communities” “chat rooms”

6 M ETACOMMUNICATION Involves indirect forms of communication. Personal and cultural insight and expression found in patterns of communication. Developed through face-to- face communication, does not apply to communication through a computer.

7 C ULTURALLY M EDIATING C HARACTERISTICS OF C OMPUTERS Computers often viewed as culturally neutral. Bias in technology based on the cultural assumptions of the designer. Sometimes hard to distinguish if that cultural assumption is shared by the user. Generally a solitary activity. Helps develop individualistic and anthropocentric ways of thinking.

8 C ULTURALLY M EDIATING C HARACTERISTICS OF C OMPUTERS Computer mediated learning → degraded form of symbolic interaction. Data → degraded form of knowledge.

9 L OCAL K NOWLEDGE Relates to the habits, traditions, and beliefs people have about the world around them. “this form of knowledge is contextualized, embedded in a community of memory and enhanced through mentoring relationships - all aspects of face-to-face communication that cannot be digitized and computerized without being fundamentally distorted” (Bowers p.69).

10 T ECHNOLOGICALLY M EDIATED D ATA Much of data and information used no longer holds its historical and cultural context. Changes brought on by technologically mediated data: Increased status. Weaken local knowledge. Replace local knowledge while supporting consumer lifestyle that harms the environment.

11 E COLOGICAL I MPLICATIONS World population about 6.7 billion. Challenge placed on humanity is to supply the necessary means to support this population. Average “ecological footprint” (global hectares per capita): Canada: 7.1 India: 0.9 Worldwide: 2.7 (Global Footprint Network 2008)

12 T ECHNOLOGICAL D EVELOPMENT ON D EVELOPING C OUNTRIES Half the world population found in India, China, and Southeast Asia. Freshwater, agricultural lands, local fisheries all stressed, rising levels of pollution Loss of local traditions involving production and exchange of goods. Developing modern economies and consumerist attitudes.

13 C ONSUMER L IFESTYLE Pressures placed on everyone to keep up with consumer lifestyle. Even those who are financially repressed. Social pressure to have computers in the classroom. Teacher and administrator lay off at the same time as acquiring means to computerize the school.

14 E DUCATIONAL I MPLICATIONS Education system does not acknowledge relationship between technology and culture. General concerns with computer-mediated learning: Limit imagination, connection between data and thinking, superficial understanding, dependence, computer maintenance, accessibility, physical side effects. fail to include cultural/ecological perspectives.

15 C ULTURAL C ONTENT IN E DUCATIONAL S OFTWARE Computers and educational software contain cultural assumptions and biases. However, biases are found in other areas of the classroom/education. Teachers choose software that reinforces their own assumptions. Mental relationship between the mind of the student using the program and the mind of the designer of the program.

16 E DUCATIONAL S OFTWARE Storybook Weaver (1994) Create stories on the computer, uses imagination. Individual assumptions. DinoPark Tycoon (1994) Create/maintain a dinosaur themed park. Focus on new products, nature a consumed resource. The Oregon Trail II Simulate pioneers move along the Oregon Trail. Reinforces Western biases of emigrants. SimLife Create new environments. Anthropocentric point of view.

17 W AYS TO ADDRESS CULTURAL ASSUMPTIONS AND BIASES Discuss/ examine cultural assumptions, historical perspectives, decisions made by designers. Storybook Weaver Incorporate traditional folk tales. DinoPark Tycoon Environmental impact. The Oregon Trail II Indigenous cultures view on the arrival of emigrants. Sim Relate to a similar incident in history involving the introduction of a foreign species.

18 A SPECTS OF TECHNOLOGY THAT ALL CITIZENS SHOULD BE AWARE OF : 1. Differences between technologies developed in Western cultures and traditional cultures. 2. Alternative ways to think of technology. 3. Examination of how modern technology contributes to the culturally transforming process of commodifying knowledge and relationships. 4. Modern technology requires a more complex view of tradition.

19 A SPECTS OF TECHNOLOGY THAT ALL CITIZENS SHOULD BE AWARE OF : 5. Technology has an impact on language and patterns of thinking. 6. Influence of modern technology on the nature of work. 7. Acquire knowledge about how the cultural mediating characteristics of computers impacts cultural diversity and ecological sustainability.


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