Category Archives: Writing

Reality in the Media Age Comments Off on Reality in the Media Age

Since its invention there has been tremendous concern about how TV may or may not alter human reality. Films such as Fahrenheit 451, Wall-E and even the Batman franchise have all presented themes of mind control, lost mental and physical capabilities and general degredation caused by ‘the tube’. The argument against the television medium is however, by no means new. From early printing to radio and beyond – each new invention has brought concern even as it has found itself integrated into the daily lives of vast quantities of the human population. There seems to be a change occurring though. Computers and the internet have by no means been left out of the ongoing debate. And, for better or worse they have been integrated into our lives. But unlike the technologies that came before them, the sheer quantity of time individuals spend face to face with their computer screens, TVs, handheld devices and other media messages has increased at a seemingly exponential rate. Read More »

Teaching Creativity Comments Off on Teaching Creativity

Just about a year ago I was finishing up a great, semester-long class which focused on creativity and problem solving. The professor had selected Michael Michalko’s Thinkertoys as the text for the course. This book is all about ways to find creative solutions. Personally, I found it a wonderful text because of its focus on creating visual contexts for your thinking. By the end of the semester I had a whole journal full of little diagrams that I had used to make this and that decision… I still use it frequently. One of the things that the book helped me sort through has to do with finding more creative outlets given the highly technical and often linear nature of my job. I’m still a work in progress, but I keep finding things to improve upon.

My own search for creativity brought up a question though… where had my creativity gone? Why did I need to find it again? Read More »

Integrating Computers in Education 1

Are computer skills an optional subject in school anymore? Their pervasiveness into so many aspects of our lives these days has had me feeling like the answer to this question was a definite no for a long time. However, I have recently seen several articles and even a story on my local evening news arguing that computers can ‘get in the way’ to a degree that is greater than their benefit. Read More »

The Brain That Changes Itself 3

I read a single chapter of this book as part of a course I was taking. I was so inspired by the chapter that I went out and bought a copy. This book is amazing and I think just about everybody would benefit from taking the time to read it. Surprising for a ‘science’ book, it is a page turner that presents a wonderful peek into the potential of the human mind. Below are some of my favorite quotes/ideas from the text… Read More »

Narrative Into Knowledge Comments Off on Narrative Into Knowledge

There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories. ~Ursula K. LeGuin

Introduction

Narrative is the form by which human experience is made meaningful (Madej, 2003; Pink, 2004). If you stop to think about it, you are likely to realize that everything you communicate is a story; a narrative (Collins, 1997). The prominence of story in human culture is clearly visible in the elevated status storytellers have had in history; Navajo shaman, troubadours of Europe, ollahms of Ireland and griots in Africa all held and/or continue to hold, positions of honor within their communities. Storytellers continue to be an appreciated resource, yet with the changes new technologies are manifesting in our lives, the faces of our storytellers are changing. The more interactive and collaborative, user-generated content that is placed in the public domain, the more individuals become storytellers. It is no longer a select few who generate and maintain a society’s stories, it is everyone. Read More »

Inspiration from Video Games Comments Off on Inspiration from Video Games

Generally when I offer up my musings on this blog, I discuss my recent reading choices related to media and education. I find myself unsure of where to start this post, mostly because I found both of the articles I read this week informative but not particularly thought provoking. I find games an incredibly intriguing area of study. I am almost in awe of some of the studies that are coming out and what they mean for our understanding of how the human mind works, how we are motivated, and how we may be able to change things for the positive in the future. Online interaction, including social gaming, is changing the way we communicate, for better or for worse, and I think my chosen articles provide at least a little glimpse into some of these changes. Read More »

Video Games as Media Texts Comments Off on Video Games as Media Texts

This past week, the book Everything Bad Is Good For You ended up back on my reading list. I first read this book about a year and a half ago and it has become a favorite. Johnson’s arguments for the ‘sleeper curve’ are interesting and, I think, well thought out. What really gets me excited about the book though, are Johnson’s thoughts on why we participate in media and the importance of brain functionality/chemistry in why we choose one media instance over another. His ideas on these subjects corroborate my own thinking and support several of the concepts I hope to study further as part of my upcoming thesis work. I am a strong believer in his emphatic statement that “it’s not what you’re thinking about,… it’s the way you’re thinking that matters” (p. 40). I believe computer games and virtual environments hold enormous potential for teaching cognitive and critical thinking skills. Read More »