October 22, 2012

A Changing Reality

The concept of a ubiquitous reality is not a foreign idea. Countless movies, TV shows, and books have told stories of realities where everything is computerized, from robot butlers doing our dirty work, to computers that can read our minds. However, the most interesting part about a so-called ubiquitous reality is not what it is, but why the concept has come into existence. One of our reading questions is: Why does discourse change? Why can't we be happy with the same kinds/types? This is a very interesting question to tackle. It seems that as our society advances, we must continuously think of new ways to present our information. Societal growth (both population-wise and a growth in overall education) demands more advanced means of communication, and, while older, less technological forms of discourse obviously still exist, changing cultures call for more technology. Discourse may also continue to change to actively solve problems that we face today. Bolter and Grusin use the following example of a classroom at the Georgia Institute of Technology,

"Everything the instructor says and does is recorded on digital video and made available for the     students to examine after class. The students themselves have handheld computers so that they can record their own notes and questions, which are synchronized with the classroom discussion. Even the whiteboards are computer screens that capture what the instructor writes, which is later transmitted to a web site" (217).

This digitized form of discourse may seem excessive, but it is certainly more efficient than the traditional classroom atmosphere, and is much more conducive to note-taking. I think higher levels of technology (at least in this form) facilitate learning at a much higher rate than a chalkboard did.

Another example of a ubiquitous form of discourse is something that I saw in my History of Text Technologies class. It was a video about a young man named Tony who was chronically hospitalized after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. He was paralyzed and only had the capability of moving his eyes. He could not speak, but his brain was fully awake/functional. He was bedridden for what seemed like the rest of his life.

When he was younger and healthy, he considered himself a graffiti artist. So, some awesome people decided that they would create an inexpensive EyeWriter for him using various materials, and they were actually able to project graffiti drawings that he made with his eyes up onto the side of any building he wished, while he sat in his hospital bed and watched. Here is the video if anyone is interested, it's around 5 minutes long, but it's definitely worth a watch.

I think that the story of Tony is a good example of ubiquitous technology because, while the way that he is altering the side of the building with light may not be as permanent as spray paint, it still connects the technological and the physical world in a way that makes them one in the same. I think that discourse is always changing to try and make the world a better, more efficient place, and that is the reality of ubiquitous technology.

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