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Is the Loss of Silence and Stillness a Threat to Movies and Art?

VOLUPTE NOIR

almost 2 years ago

“But if I’m impatient, I have to think it’s much worse for those who are raised on the internet and wireless technology.”

It’s a reality. I’ve seen it in kids I have known. And that impatience is a definite impediment to thought and learning.

It requires practice and awareness. I recall going to a spectacular Post—Impressionist show at the De Young Museum in San Francisco a couple of years ago; it took me a few minutes to slow myself down and learn to SEE, not merely LOOK. Once I had done that, I enjoyed the art on display immensely.

Matt Parks

almost 2 years ago

“Noise increases but humans adapt.”

Right, of course . . . to me it’s not a matter of adapting or not adapting, but of considering what is lost (or potentially lost) in the process.

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

@VN

It’s a reality. I’ve seen it in kids I have known.

That’s my sense, too—but I don’t completely trust my judgment, as it might be due to romanticizing of the past that occurs as one ages.

It requires practice and awareness. I recall going to a spectacular Post—Impressionist show at the De Young Museum in San Francisco a couple of years ago; it took me a few minutes to slow myself down and learn to SEE, not merely LOOK. Once I had done that, I enjoyed the art on display immensely.

I can relate to this. I think paintings and other visual art are odd and puzzling to those raised on TV or later electric media. Nothing’s happening, you know? It really does require a reorienting of one’s self to really appreciate the art.

I also had a similar experience with instrumental music like jazz and classical music. Being raised on top forty radio, it not only took a long time to get to the goods, as it were, but I needed change my thinking and learn a whole new approach to listening to the music.

AxelUmo​g

almost 2 years ago

“Did you know that one of the reasons we forget things when we walk from one room to another is because when we cross through a door, it signals our brain that the situation has changed? That, “I just walked in the room and forgot what I came in here for” is the medium of households boxing in our memories and ruining our brains. Alas for the pre-housing days when we sat outside with more open minds and better memory (and felt the rain instead of getting wet like we do in this post-shelter world).”

—PolarisDiB

^….I mean, grains of truth, singularity is a thing, but hard to sum it up better than that.

Joks

almost 2 years ago

“Right, of course . . . to me it’s not a matter of adapting or not adapting, but of considering what is lost (or potentially lost) in the process.”

Gee Matt, don’t get too goddamn romantic on us now ok? ;-)

JIRIN:But are we just reacting to any cultural change as a negative change?"

This question can easily be turned on you though. What do you assume that change is positive and we always gain in one area what we lose in another so in the end it all balances out?

I honestly think this is by far the most dangerous mentality to have towards social and technological change. Far worse than a negative/reactionary position. But the problem is that the ‘critics’ are almost always painted as romantic reactionaries.

Matt Parks

almost 2 years ago

Capital R, please.

I’m not saying that one has to get all emotional about it, but, you know, people ought to realize that if you’re creating a culture where everyone has to come to city to work, let’s say, but have to leave their families behind, you’ve got to expect a little bit bigger crowd at the train station on the weekend.

If we don’t have some idea of what we’re getting into by buying into modern culture, it can all get mighty perplexing.

Jirin

almost 2 years ago

I would disagree that internet culture is a threat to the communication of complexity of ideas.

I mean, this thread! :)

I think the limit for the complexity of ideas you can communicate to somebody is directly related to the amount of common reference points you have. Say, I want to explain to you calculus. This is a lot easier if we both know algebra. We can discuss complex ideas about movies because we’ve all seen a lot of the same movies.

Are kids getting dumber? Give a 12 year old an electronic device without explaining at all how it works, he’ll have it all figured out in under an hour.

The 140 character limit? It’s not teaching kids to dumb themselves down, it’s teaching them to be succinct. Verbosity is a crutch sometimes, we don’t make an effort to be elegant and succinct because we know we have a huge amount of space to work with.

Maybe kids aren’t doing as well in class, not because they have less understanding of language, but because they don’t spend as much time on their homework. (Or maybe teachers are associating intelligence with syllable count per word?)

Joks

almost 2 years ago

^^and why aren’t they doing their homework Jirin? Maybe because they are too distracted? Because education is dumbed down? We have to ask ourselves why this is happening.

You need to do some research on why and how the internet is reducing complexity. While the evidence is not conclusive, i wouldn’t say it’s promising either, at least not on the whole.

And don’t give me that ‘succinct’ crap man :-) Seriously! Do you think people can understand complex ideas by spending their time being ‘succinct’? That’s why you write essays at college to learn subjects like politics and philosophy.

Long-form pieces encourage a totally different kind of thinking process.

Being ‘succinct’ is great for creating things summary notes and press releases, not for encouraging deep thought.

Drunken Father Figure of Old

almost 2 years ago

Are kids doing worse in school than they were before? Anybody have a link for that?

Matt Parks

almost 2 years ago

“I would disagree that internet culture is a threat to the communication of complexity of ideas.”

Well, I think that just about any condition of culture could potentially be a threat to the communication of complex ideas. It’s all, of course, in how it’s used. Awareness of the potential impact of change allows us, as human beings to remain agents rather than objects.

As to that last point, Jirin, a lot of the recent research I’ve seen suggests that kids are, on average, spending more time then ever on homework. Personally, I wonder if the “doing well in class” issues isn’t as much about educational practices at the K-12 level failing to keep up with the rest of the culture and how kids are actually taking in/processing information.

Jirin

almost 2 years ago

The correlation between length of statement and depth of statement is profoundly overrated. Just watch any state of the union address ever given.

@Matt

I will agree with you there that the way we process information has changed. I saw a study that showed people who use the internet a lot have more trouble remembering trivial information, like dates and addresses. But my reaction to that isn’t quite so alarmist. I would say, that’s the same as saying, we’re no longer good at hunting and gathering. Our brain specializes for the skills we need, not for information we can always get somewhere else. Why learn dates when you have the internet? Why hunt when you can go to the grocery store?

I think the decline in quality of education in America has way less to do with the internet, and way more to do with the focus on standardized testing.

@Joks

And a lot of those essays you write in college have page limits. Not 140 characters, but something like 5 pages, and they turn out the better for them. You can’t write a 30 page essay well if you can’t write a 2 page essay well. If you can’t, you’ll just end up writing a 2 page essay over 30 pages.

And no, change is not always positive, but nobody has shown me a convincing argument as to why this particular cultural change is negative. There are plenty of negative changes going on, like the slow erosion of the Bill of Rights. But that has nothing to do with the internet.

It’s amazing how quick the transition can be between progressive and conservative.

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

@Jirin

I would disagree that internet culture is a threat to the communication of complexity of ideas.

I mean, this thread! :)

But is it the exception that proves the rule? If we looked at all the online discussion boards, what percentage of the discussions would be like this? My guess is that it would be very small. We have C-SPAN on TV; Hollywood made Tree of Life, but they’re anomalies more than the norm, right?

My experience at more political oriented sites like the Atlantic Monthly suggests that the internet isn’t a good place for substantive discussion on politics and policy.

I think the limit for the complexity of ideas you can communicate to somebody is directly related to the amount of common reference points you have.

Nothing is preventing us from talking about complex ideas, but the medium isn’t conducive to that type of discussion. Most people spit out short posts—with very little time rewriting or editing, and I’d guess they read short posts, while skipping over really long ones. This approach isn’t conducive to discussing complex ideas. Could we have a meaningful conversation about Auteur Theory or the meaning of 2001 with this approach? I don’t think so. Some ideas and topics resist brevity.

Are kids getting dumber? Give a 12 year old an electronic device without explaining at all how it works, he’ll have it all figured out in under an hour.

Just to be clear, my point isn’t that kids are getting dumber. I’m saying that these pockets of time for reflection are shrinking—largely because of technology—and that doesn’t bode well for art. With regard to technological progress, my point is that we should be aware of the drawbacks of new technology, weigh them with benefits and thoughtfully move forward.

The 140 character limit? It’s not teaching kids to dumb themselves down, it’s teaching them to be succinct. Verbosity is a crutch sometimes, we don’t make an effort to be elegant and succinct because we know we have a huge amount of space to work with.

But you’re not suggesting that the short posts in these threads derive from some rigorous process of refining and rewriting, are you? I highly doubt that people spend a lot of time honing their ideas to the fewest words possible. They’re just spitting out ideas off the top of their head—and the ideas are too complex or take too long to explain, they don’t bother typing anything. (There are notable exceptions, but I think they prove the rule.)

Joks said, This question can easily be turned on you though. What do you assume that change is positive and we always gain in one area what we lose in another so in the end it all balances out?

I honestly think this is by far the most dangerous mentality to have towards social and technological change.

Yeah. Neil Postman describes this as technopoly—and I suspect this term characterizes our society.

@Matt

Well, I think that just about any condition of culture could potentially be a threat to the communication of complex ideas. It’s all, of course, in how it’s used. Awareness of the potential impact of change allows us, as human beings to remain agents rather than objects.

In theory, we can use various technology in whatever way we want. As I mentioned we have C-SPAN and PBS, but I also think media has constraints that we really can’t overcome. For example, PBS’s Newshour is a decent news program, but even their format severely limits dealing with complex issues. They break the show down into 10-15 minute segments discussing a topic. You can’t talk about subjects like health care reform, tax policy or the Middle East peace process in that short of a time—not in a really substantive way. Often the conversation has to end, just when it starts getting interesting. I suspect they do this because if they gave the topic 30 minutes or more they lose viewers—but that’s the nature of TV. And, btw, giving fifteen minutes to not experts who aren’t alway telegenic about wonky subjects pushes already pushes against the constraints of the medium.

But even if we have limits in the way we use media and technology, we should, as you’ve pointed out, be aware of these limits—and the consequences of these limits. What is lost? What is gained? What consequences? Which groups benefit? Which groups lose out?

Matt Parks

almost 2 years ago

“For example, PBS’s Newshour is a decent news program, but even their format severely limits dealing with complex issues.”

Right . . . personally, I think what programs like this could do, perhaps, as a way of bridging its own limitations, would be to point those who are interested in learning more about a given issue toward sources of additional information—websites, books, maybe in some cases even organizations or individuals.

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

Right . . . personally, I think what programs like this could do, perhaps, as a way of bridging its own limitations, would be to point those who are interested in learning more about a given issue toward sources of additional information—websites, books, maybe in some cases even organizations or individuals.

PBS and NPR does do some of that I believe—or least they sometimes offer more information on their site.

The other problem I forgot to mention is the fragmented versus linear nature of the different stories covered. There is no logical connection between stories. They could talk about the Syrian situation and then follow that with U.S. Tax policy. This approach really makes developing a coherent and unified understanding very difficult. It leads to fragmented thinking of news—versus a more “big picture” one.

That’s a tougher problem to solve, but I wonder if a news agency could create broader categories and then use websites as a repositories for stories in each category—over time weaving them together into a more coherent picture. (I know what I’m saying isn’t very clear, but I’ll leave it there for now.)

Matt Parks

almost 2 years ago

“There is no logical connection between stories”

Well, yeah, I think the connection is that they’re all “news”, which is somewhat arbitrary a distinction—someone is making editorial decisions about what’s “most important” from a range of options. You don’t want the editorial decisions to be too restrictive on the one hand, but on the other you can’t possible process a constant stream of information, so some sort of filtering is desirable.

“wonder if a news agency could create broader categories and then use websites as a repositories for stories in each category—over time weaving them together into a more coherent picture.”

Yeah, and I think some outlets, particularly print media, have made strides toward this, but obviously there’s much more that could, hypothetically, be done.

VOLUPTE NOIR

almost 2 years ago

IS THE INTERNET HURTING CHILDREN?

This article and the study mentioned therein deals closely with some points I attempted to convey on this thread some weeks ago. The evidence is there and growing more prevasive.

Polaris​DiB

almost 2 years ago

Neil Postman points out in chapter five of his book Technopoly that humanity had the benefit of a couple hundred years to adjust to the information explosion of the printing press that helped them craft rational and ethical societies, (acknowledging that these societies are not necessarily more perfect so to speak than pre-printing press societies or post-modern ones). Your article is significant of both the point you are trying to make and the point I am trying to make: at issue is less the technologies themselves and more our inability to adjust to them in such a manner that we both a) reduce its consequences and b) use information technologies to actually inform critical thinking instead of displacing it.

One primary causes of those issues being, the people who need to be teaching the younger generations how to understand the technology don’t understand the technology.

We’re not going to be able to make children really really truly understand that what they share online will be searchable for the existence of the Internet (possibly forever but more likely for at least the rest of their lives), when our representatives actually believe they can do such things as stop piracy (which is an inherent function of the Internet just as ‘sharing’ is. You post ‘content’ online for it to be received by others without blockages from linear information processing. End of story.)

I think this article is spot-on when it states,

“If managed well, technology can improve our schools and education, deepen social connectedness, expand civic engagement and even help advance our democracy. But for these positive outcomes to occur, we as a society must confront the challenges endemic in our 24/7 digital world.

We need legislation, educational efforts and norms that reflect 21st-century realities to maximize the opportunities and minimize the risks for our kids. Only then will we be able to give them the safe, healthy childhood and adolescence they deserve."

The only thing being, it’s not too clear legislation is even possible. Firewalls only get you so far, is what I’m saying.

—PolarisDiB