Affiliated with the University of California's systemwide
Humanities Research Institute
The MacArthur Foundation
Schools are working hard to engage students in computer programming and engineering, but resources are tight. And some kids lack access to high-tech tools at home. Can afterschool programs help bridge the gap?
It is a common theme to complain about the way that writing (or reading or math) skills are declining as our society becomes increasingly digitized. In this post, I look at some examples of the way that digital technologies are making writing more interesting by exploring stories or trends from the past year that have impacted writing and the teaching of writing. Not all of these examples suggest that writing is getting better (or that it is getting worse). Rather, they illustrate how writing is changing under the influence of emerging technologies.
1. Writing is in our environments
The introduction of wearable technologies like Google Glass and the growing use of speech-to-text features for mobile phones are continuing the movement of writing from a private task to one that is performed in public. It is possible to compose text messages and even long-form writing by voice alone. As this technology becomes more and more ubiquitous, it is poised to change how writing is experienced by young people, much as texting has, and it will also underscore digital divides among students, as some will have access to this technology while others will not.
2. "@Horse_Ebooks" and algorithmic writing
In 2013 it was revealed that of the most popular twitterbots—automated Twitter accounts—turned out to not be automated after all, but a performance art project. Much of the interest around this story focused on how the authors duped their readers, but it also showed how attitudes toward automated writing have shifted in our culture. Some followers were disappointed that @Horse_Ebooks was not automated, suggesting that, as with other media such as music, randomness in writing is becoming increasingly accepted, and as its importance grows, writers will have to learn how to design automated writing systems to avoid embarrassing and offensive results.
3. Programming is writing
As computers become more pervasive, there have been a growing number of calls to include computer programming as a core skill, taught along with other core subjects like reading and writing.
For the final installment of my series of blog posts outlining ten principles that governments and local communities should consider when evaluating whether they are using digital technology effectively to facilitate civic engagement, I will discuss the issue that goes to the core of democracy in our country – the public having access to information [...]
Philadelphia’s Centennial Exposition of 1876 was America’s first World’s Fair, and was ostensibly held to mark the nation’s 100th birthday. But it heralded the future as much as it celebrated the past, showcasing the country’s strongest suit: technology. The centerpiece …