Data Use, Technology, and Educational Leadership

Living richly and humanly in the digital age?

Matt Renwick (@ReadByExample) reflected recently  Hamlet’s Blackberry, a book that takes on the takes on the topic of how weird it is to live in the digital age. His post has had me thinking. So do other remarks about the side effects of technologies on brain chemistry, perhaps including the brain development of children.

A friend recently shared with me that she saw an infant on an airplane — asleep, but swiping the iPad screen all the same.

Not the same baby. Via ~C4Chaos (flickr)

Not the same baby. Via ~C4Chaos (flickr)

Personally, I feel a bit guilty any time my daughter tries to say something to me when I happen to be looking at my phone (even if I’m just  checking the time). Equally unsettling, I’ve spoken to undergrads who purposefully “check out” or do the “lookaway” whenever they see someone they like but don’t know how to say hi.

What does it mean for the next generation of leaders to not be so great at approaching each other? To having trouble bonding or catching up over dinner without distraction? Sherry Turkle, in discussing her book Alone Together, recently gave the anecdote of apartment roommates text messaging each other instead of simply knocking on one’s door. The latter would have been “too personal.” For a collection of fascinating windows into the technological lives of others, see also her Inner History of Devices.

And speaking of the “next generation,” here’s a nerd moment. I’m trying to imagine life on Imagethe Enterprise if the crew were as distracted by their tricorders and tablets as some of us are by our smart phones and iPads. I’m not just creating a recipe for bad TV.

I’m not a luddite. But I am putting out the reminder that although we are figuring out how to use devices in the little aspects of life, we aren’t keeping good tabs on the bigger things in life.

What should our culture and societal practices look like? What will they mean for us down the line as our kids follow us in technology use?  More importantly, as we come to terms with how to live humanly and richly in the digital age, how do we share those insights with others? Life is weird; I hope we can figure it out.


3 comments on “Living richly and humanly in the digital age?

  1. Matt Renwick
    July 5, 2013

    Thank you for sharing your thinking. I think many of us are in the same boat. Now that we have all of these connections, how do we manage them and still live a rich, fulfilling life? What the author suggests is a lesson from Ben Franklin: everything in moderation. Easy to say, hard to do! But maybe just being aware of our tendencies to connect with strangers instead of the people we know personally is a good first step. I am sure this will continue to be a work in progress for me. Thanks again for your reflections.

  2. vinnycho
    July 6, 2013

    The “moderation” part is what has me wondering! If some of what we do with devices is “addictive,” then how do we know we’re being moderate?

    On a different note, I wonder what train or bus rides are like for youth today. Without devices, we’d chat or make up jokes — do things to explore the world around us. But now I see a lot more people with headphones, looking down, not seeing or engaging with their environments…

  3. Pingback: Love, slowness, technology, and school leadership | Datapulted

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This entry was posted on July 5, 2013 by and tagged , .