DIGITAL AMERICA

The Internet is a Friend Who Has Always Been There for Me

// Posted by on 05/15/2015 (8:40 PM)
The Internet has always been there for me.
Perhaps anthropomorphizing the Internet, as I did in the title, isn’t the best way to go, perhaps it even makes me sound as if I have some sort of mental illness, but it really has always been around and available when I’ve needed it. Thanks to Blogspot and Myspace, it was even there to listen to me when things weren’t great.
 When I, my dad, first loaded Prodigy onto our computer  I was hooked. It was really just chat rooms and such at that point, but it was still fun! Then it was quickly onto AOL from there (oh AOL, how much time I wasted with you), then Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Reddit, and so on. It’s always been there for me for one thing or another. While I’ve made it sound like my best friend, I’ve really always perceived it as more of a tool. It’s a tool that helps me when I need to know a random fact about anything (or serious information when I’m doing research work), it’s a tool that helps me get from place to place, it’s a tool that helps me to make informed purchases, it’s a tool that lets me keep in touch with my family, and it’s really so much more.
However, the conversation in class the other night did prompt me to consider the possibility that the Internet could also be a place. This is something that I had never considered before — never thought about it. The example I used in class is when I get home after a long day and after I’ve made dinner, put my son to bed, and talked to my wife about her day, I sometimes escape to the internet. While it’s true that in this example it is very much a tool being utilized for leisure, but it’s also very much a place. This is a place where I sometimes go to get lost in the mindless, vast, (cyber)space that is the Internet.
Even though I’ve accepted the Internet as a place, I still see it as more of a tool.
With so many people using this tool to do just about everything they do throughout the day, it has also increasingly become a tool for malevolence. It’s so easy. With all of the information users willingly put out there, it’s not hard for those with ill intentions to take advantage of Facebook users with limited security settings, the elderly with email scams, or even an anxious soon-to-be high school graduate waiting to hear from the school of his or her dreams.
Regardless of how it is used, it’s a tool, and I’ve always seen it that way.
Rules of Engagement:
So far, I think we’ve done a good job. It does appear that I might go over the 500 word limit that I stated that I saw as a good idea. However, I maintain that it is a good idea. I think setting a reasonable deadline for initial posts is a must for facilitating discussion, but I’m also willing to bet that we have an opinionated bunch that likely won’t have too much trouble posting early. I don’t know that requiring a specific number of replies is necessary provided that everyone has at least one thoughtful reply to an initial post that encourages further conversation. It’s possible that I am alone in this thinking, as I have seen a couple other post suggestions that conflict with this statement. Beyond that, I’m just happy not being in Blackboard. While the blog certainly bears a resemblance to Blackboard it seems less static. Also, I’m a fan of pictures and videos. I don’t think we should require the use of media in posts, but I would encourage it (this one is a little selfish).
At this point, if I say much more I think I’d cross into rambling territory. There a good rule: no rambling.

 


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Comments:


Rosatelli said...

Not rambling at all–keep going! What I tend to like about blogs, despite some of the drawbacks we discussed in class, is that they are ramble zones. You can write knowing that the point of your thought may not be fully formed until you are finished writing. I like that there can be a sense of unfinished thinking–pondering–on blogs. I really want us to push our thinking in this class, and sometimes rambling is the perfect activity to inspire interesting ideas. Ramble on!

Your post makes me think of one of the Digital America journal columnists, Michael Leonberger, who often writes about how the internet, in all of its weirdness, has been there for him. I also think it’s interesting that you, and many of the other students, felt the need to draft a qualifying paragraph concerning the “bad” aspects of the internet. Why? Are we concerned that our peers may think we are digital determinists? Blinded by the sheer good that networking can bring? Or are we simply acknowledging that the internet can magnify what has always been–bullying, theft, etc.? Sometimes I feel like we are so accustomed to living in a binary culture that we impose the bad/good framework of thinking on all issues. Is it necessary? Do we have to talk about good and bad when it comes to the internet? Are there better categories?

// 05/16/2015 at 10:14 pm

Ginger said...

David,

I really enjoyed reading your post. I like your explanation of the Internet. I, too, had never considered it as a place before the class. It was a tool as you also mentioned. I compared it to the encyclopedia from when I was younger. If you wanted to know things that is where you went.

You bring up another very valid point. It is how we use it. There are unscrupulous people all around us. As I am typing this someone is thinking of a way to take advantage of someone else online or in person.

Last Tuesday morning I was telling my work mates about the class. I asked them if they thought of the internet as a place. No one did, they thought of it more as a tool. One person I work with does not like to purchase things online for fear of his credit card information getting stolen. I told him that it was a very valid fear, but we give our credit cards to people all of the time without a second thought. We pay for our dinner or buy something in a store and the information is there for the taking.

I am sorry. I feel as though I have gotten off topic.

I too use the internet to check in on my friends and family. That is a cool thing. I also use it for work and school. I think it is a tool.

// 05/17/2015 at 4:32 pm

Kindall said...

David- I thought your post made a lot of great points, and your title, in particular, got me thinking more about the reading as well.

For me, the internet has also been a friend that has always been there for me. In the introduction of the book, Turner comments on a new economic era where individuals had to “become entrepreneurs, moving flexibility from place to place, sliding in and out of collaborative teams, building their knowledge bases and skill sets in a process of constant self-education”.

When I read that statement, I just thought it perfectly described the internet. When I want to expand my knowledge… I google a topic for self-education. Anytime I do anything online, I feel like I am working collaboratively with those companies, organizations, or individuals. And what allows us to move from place to place as flexibly as the internet?

So, I think you were right to call this online archive of knowledge a “friend”. I saw elements of this “friendship” in Chapter 2 as Turner describes Stewart Brand as a Comprehensive Designer and how his system was magical and all-encompassing. The Trips Festival and the New Communalist attitude seem to have been heavily rooted in personal relationships and the sharing of ideas and knowledge. I think that the internet is a great tool and/or place to cultivate those ideals, and it can be argued that, in many ways, the internet does serve as a more of a friend than a tool.

It can provide companionship through chat rooms and online dating, it can present advice or assistance on WebMD and YouTube “How To” videos, etc.

Although you concluded that it is a tool, and our group thought so too in class, I think that instead of the internet being a place or a tool, maybe it is a companion of sorts. A living entity that is capable of consolation and friendship.

// 05/17/2015 at 4:47 pm

David said...

I think when you discuss all of the good that the Internet provides, you almost can’t help but at least note the bad. The bad is what the media hammer us all over the head with day in and day out. Scam this, cyberbully that, hack this, and leaks that – constantly. We experience all of the good every day, but the media preys on the alarmist nature of the general public and they give us a constant feed of internet-related adversity. Please don’t take my double-sided view to mean that I don’t appreciate the value of networking, the value of connectivity, and the value of companionship the Internet provides, but rather, as you noted, it magnifies all of the good, but not without doing the same with the bad. This makes the big bad internet Boogiemen that much bigger and that much badder.
Though, yes, this does sort of force us into a culture of either good or bad. This can be seen throughout our culture, not just in the way we view the Internet. I don’t think this is necessary, as there is definitely room for graded thinking. Things don’t have to be as black and white as they are often made. However, as I noted, even if I were to write a tome outlining all of the good the Internet provides, I don’t think I could do so without at least mentioning some of the less than noble qualities of the same Internet.

// 05/17/2015 at 9:09 pm

Lois said...

Hi David,
I like what Dr. Rosatelli said that the point of our thought may not be fully formed until we finish writing it. Often when I’m responding to someone else’s post I find that my thought process is initially formed when I begin responding but as I write I may have a “change of heart” and go in the exact opposite direction. I think that keeps us on our toes academically and helps us to be critical thinkers.

You, like me view the internet as a tool. What might change our minds to view it as a place? That is the challenge question from me to you…and to myself. I guess at this point I view it as both with a slight lead on the “tool” side. I’m hoping throughout the learning in this class and reading the posts and comments of my classmates, I’ll be able to view the internet as a place and enjoy the history of its development. What do you think?
-Lois

// 05/19/2015 at 10:32 am