Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why I hate texting, and other secrets about not learning in new media . . .

I have a confession to make. I want to be cool. Not cool in the hipster, slangy sort of way, but cool in the sophisticated, modern, techno-skilled, I-can-do-anything-and-quote-anyone way. But I have a problem. I have a terrible memory for pop culture. Sure I love good music, but ask me a band's name and my palms start to sweat. Not only this, I am 5'3" tall, with naturally curly curly hair, and I can't get the hang of walking in heels. Forget sophistication. And then, there's the worst offense of all. I hate texting.

So, as a way of getting to some thought on how we learn in new media, I'd like to approach from the opposite end of things . . . how don't I learn in new media. Why do I so often find myself waiting until I'm absolutely the last person on Earth who hasn't joined Facebook, owned a laptop, gotten a cellphone, downloaded pictures on the Internet, so that the unescapable force of peer pressure finally knocks me over and conquers my inhibitions?

Not-Learning-in-New-Media (and why my lack of motivation never ceases to amaze me)
1. The media doesn't fit my needs.
(Texting is annoying because it forces me to make all of my thoughts into short, concise, simplified sound bytes. I think better in full, lengthy, convoluted sentences.)
2. I don't have the time to learn/use the new media.
(It once took me fifteen minutes to find the exclamation point for texting.)
3. Old media suits me just fine.
(I like the smell of books. I like taking notes in lecture classes. Super Mario Bros is so much more fun to play than these new-fangled video games.)

I could go on, but I figure that my list can be boiled down into one word. Fear and intimidation. (Okay- maybe two words.) My not-learning in new media involves a not-wanting-to-learn, which is linked to entirely complex and psychologically interesting string of insecurities. Unfamiliarity is made of some fascinating stuff. It makes some people crazy with excitement and hope, and it sends others into immediate self-defense-mechanism-mode.

As for me, I'm willing to play with Scratch a bit longer. . .

But I'm not making any promises.


  1. It's funny that you mention techno-phobia. I had that same attitude towards figuring out my computer since it was expensive back in the day to be tinkering with. Fear is a powerful inhibitor, but I guess the key thing is knowing what would help you overcome that fear. On my part, I'll say this - YOU CAN DO EET, JULIEEEEE!

  2. It's funny that you mention being 5'3" with curly curly hair. I, too, am 5'3" with curly curly hair--though I pretty much like new media technologies. It feels arbitrary, doesn't it? Someone oughta do some work to figure out why new media feels comfortable and familiar to some (me) and intimidating to others.

    I've also recently heard that 35 is the cutoff for finding new technologies cool. This makes me nervous.

  3. Also, the smell of books makes me anxious. And it occurs to me that so far, nobody has asked the question: What IS new media?

  4. Maybe you have just not found a new media outlet that you identify with yet? Also, i think because there has been no one in the 'center'to which you could work towards in new media may change now in this class.

    Basically, now that your on the periphery, you can work toward the center and find something you can engage and participate in. Remember new media isn't just Facebook/Twitter (although they do count), but it's also fan fiction sites, video games, art production/music production software(s), etc. You'll find something, and once you do, you'll be hooked.

  5. Thanks, everybody. I may have been exaggerating my point a bit . . I don't experience a deep aversion to all things new media. But, as Jenna points out, what exactly IS "new" media? And how is learning or not learning/engaging or choosing not to engage fundamentally different in the world of new media than it is in "old media"?

  6. I guess I sit somewhere squarely in the middle -- I totally love the smell of books (especially new children's books) and am fascinated by the affordances of "new" media for learning. Take this blog conversation -- I don't think that we could have this type of conversation out of class if we were all reading at home -- it provides a social and public forum for us to trade ideas, hopefully enriching our classroom discussions. I think that all types of media have particular affordances and limitations that we have to wrestle with as educators and researchers -- I look forward to having you ground us in the past so that we don't too anxiously abandon it in our quest to embrace the new (and unknown). Given your love of writing (and not texting), how does blogging feel? Seems like it could be a good candidate for your conversion... :)

    I love where these conversations are going -- I think that the discussions on defining what's "new" about new media are really interesting. Bolter and Grusin, for example, says exactly what you're saying here that all media is essentially remediation of older forms of media. Nothing's new at all, just repackaged...

  7. I think the last question asked by you Julie, is one that I grapple with as well. Are we asking the perennial question of "what is learning?" just in a different context.
    And a possible distinction between old and new media may lie in the interaction one has with the type of media. It seems like the articles we read this week describe new media as a creative tool (Resnick) and old media as a more passive outlet.
    To me, it seems like we can express ourselves in old media and be creative, but it may not be through a virtual fast paced, or technological manner (i.e. sensors, electrical components). New media just brings more modern innovations to the hands of creators as well as increased participation by outsiders (a larger audience). For example, an art piece displayed at a museum may only be seen by people present during the exhibits run. A Scratch project can be posted on the web and may be seen by millions in a day. Access seems to help establish a distinction between old and new media.