In my last post I highlighted a legal conflict related to technology in the standoff between Apple and the FBI regarding iPhone security. In this post, I thought I would highlight more of the readings in Emerging useful for discussing technology, especially the many new ones we’ve added.
It’s a particular challenge to include readings about technology in a textbook simply because technology changes fast and textbooks don’t. It’s not a problem with a ready solution, though our approach all along in assembling Emerging has been to select readings with ideas since those are more likely to persist as technology evolves.
For this edition, in addition to the readings about video and photography I discussed in Emerging 3.0: Thinking about Photography, we have four new readings that discuss some of the issues around technology in our world today.
- Chuck Klosterman’s “Electric Funeral,” for example, examines the inexorable pull of futurity in relation to notions of villainy, specifically examining two controversial figures, Kim Dotcom and Julian Assange. Klosterman is a wonderfully engaging writer who draws from his work as the ethicist for The New York Times Magazine. The reading is very approachable while prompting students to unpack the notion of “villainy” in relation to technology.
- Maria Konnikova’s “How Many Friends Can We Have?” is similarly approachable, with some good concepts and ideas that students can test through their own lives. Konnikova investigates the applicability of the Dunbar number to social media. The Dunbar number, proposed by anthropologist and psychologist Robin Dunbar, suggests that there are very particular limits to the numbers of friends we can have, a fact challenged (or perhaps confirmed) by social media. I love the way Konnikova applies this concept to technology, and love, too, that students can perform their own evaluation of the continued relevance of this concept by browsing through their friends lists on social media.
- Hanna Rosin, in “Why Kids Sext,” similarly examines the intersections of technology and youth culture but with a darker twist. Rosin explores a recent teen sexting scandal from Virginia to highlight not simply the challenges of growing up in today’s world but also the startling ways in which our laws have not kept pace with either technology or culture.
- Finally, Graeme Wood’s “Reinventing College” is a great essay for students as well, as it examines one possible future for higher education: the online university. As with Konnikova and Rosin, Wood’s essay offers a great entry point for students since, as students, they can speak to higher education from very grounded experience.
These essays join others from previous editions, including not only Peter Singer but also Bill Wasik and Richard Restak to offer you a number of ways to help students think critically about technology in the world and in their lives. I hope you will check them out.
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