Home > Uncategorized > Critical Literacies Class: Week One Readings Reflection

Critical Literacies Class: Week One Readings Reflection

How do we protect ourselves from bad info? The readings of week one struck me as focused on the contemporary danger of “too much information”. Today’s brain faces a barrage of inputs, fail to prepare and risk the steam roll as a question brings a billion answers, alternative questions and depth increasing quandaries.

How do we cope in such a place? We are now tasked with learning in a system where access to everything is a hazard- a failure to think critically creates the risk of knowing nothing or, ever worse, knowing incorrectly. In order to protect ourselves and utilize this resource correctly we need to use critical thinking extensively. Our brains are our greatest ally; however, we still fall victim to two major limitations: human and technical.

I. Human Limitations and Solutions:

As a result of our limited abilities to filter and endless curiosity, we are unable to protect ourselves from bad info.

I heard an article on NPR this week reporting on a study that basically suggested that our brains weren’t designed to use a tool like the internet. The study suggested that our brains had not evolved to shift focus as rapidly as the internet allows and even goes as far to say we’re damaging our brain by shifting focus as often as we do. Here’ s the link.

I think there is some accuracy there. Of course it depends on how the internet is used. If we limit ourselves to considering the internet in terms of social networking and communication than this will be a common conclusion. Instead a better notion is to view the internet as a resource with multiple points of access. We can communicate, socialize, research, etc…, but if we fail to focus on a single task or cluster of tasks within our capabilities we obviously run the risk of losing focus.

Our major challenge now is to develop techniques to better understand how to use the internet. Users need to focus on a single task of cluster of tasks best suited for personal efficiency. Once established then the user must use critical thinking to locate and filter information found to meet this goal. The internet can help us do a lot of things, but if we fail to properly use the resource will squander the opportunity. Similarly we do not use our stove to cook and warm our homes, dry our clothes, etc…We have the stove classified as performing a specific function and utilize it according to those terms. A similar classification must be established for the internet.

II. Technical Limitations: Problems and Solutions

As a result of its endless space, the internet can function as an information waste land. Organization already assists us (aggretators, curators and indexers) but we still run the risk of searching for “A” and instead finding “B through Z.” Our technical limitations deal mainly with framing the internet and establishing a system of targeted query.

Just as our brains must develop critical thinking skills, our software must assist us by simplifying this process for us. We still need access to everything- our software should not be designed to think critically for us in lieu we sacrifice our universal access. The best software will develop a frame for our reflection and work to make our process of thinking easier and more organized.

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