Gregory Ulmer describes alongside his electracy theory that without formally teaching the population the digital language, the population will remain ill equipped. Much like this statement, Heinrich explains the need for rhetoric in society and explains with a constant lack of it in the education system society will continue to produce a population that cannot think critically, speak eloquently, or reason through a rational thought process.
Gregory Ulmer explains his electracy theory with the analogy of literacy is to alphabetic writing as electracy is to digital media. He continues to state that electracy consists of the skills needed to communicate in a digital world. The progression of technology and new media have pushed the bounds of the traditional communicative process to a new realm. With this new form of communication comes some sort of resistance from those afraid to forego the previous tradition. Ulmer quotes Socrates and his fear of the written word in degrading society’s ability to retain memory and their oratory skills. However, Socrates did not process the future benefits of written word. Electracy is the same way. Given the opportunity, the digital word can greatly benefit society.
Ulmer continues to state the need to teach this digital language alongside math, science, and the arts starting at the elementary level where “pure and practical” reason is emphasized. In Jay Heinrichs’ article How Harvard Destroyed Rhetoric, published in the Harvard Magazine, Heinrich argues because there has been a decline in rhetoric in the education system, the population lacks the skills to think logically and rationally. This in turn is a detriment to society as it produces the masses to be unable to think and speak in a logical manner. Therefore, does the lack of a “pure and practical” teaching to the population harm us as a society? And should we place a greater emphasis on teaching digital language in the structured education system?
If there is one article that I would choose to support Nicholas Carr’s point that the Net is worsening our ability to process information and the downfall of deep thinking, it would be the CNN article of Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance. The “World-wide leader in news” got such harsh feedback for placing the article in the coveted front landing page spot on the website that CNN’s Managing Editor, Meredith Artly, took to The Onion to defend her reasoning behind giving Miley the same news slot as CNN’s 9/11s coverage.
Here Artley states the article placement had nothing to do with the lack of worthy world events that occurred the previous day or CNN’s interest in Miley. It strictly had to do with making money. The more who clicked on the article, the more money CNN made off of advertisements. Artley states without the front page placement, “then not nearly as many people would have seen it, which wouldn’t get us the page views we want, which wouldn’t get us the money we want, which wouldn’t get me the congratulations I want. So you see, there’s no stopping this. And what is this, you ask? Modern-day journalism.”
Carr’s theory that society has evolved into a gaggle of people who skim across the headlines and read a few lines then move on or skip the legitimate articles all together is supported in this instance. Here CNN chose to make Miley Cyrus, a 20 year old with nothing particularly interesting to contribute to society, as the front page news. And for what? Money. CNN knew people would click on that article. Carr would argue it is because we would be attracted to that level of shallow intellect needed to process the information. Regardless of the actual incentive for people to click on the link, people did it, and CNN’s page views sky rocketed. So what does that say about us as a society, now?
In season 6 episode 7 of Friends, Ross explains how with the progress of technology, supposedly you can live forever as a machine. This topic was not directly touched upon by Carr, however, he mentions how society has a desire to take on the qualities of the technologies at our disposal. Therefore, technology would simply be an extension of our mental capabilities, much like what Ross explains in this clip.
Nicholas Carr’s argues in his article Is Google Making Us Stupid, that the invention of the Net has degraded humanities abilities to process, retain, and have deep thinking intelligence. Carr states Google has changed the way in which society operates and learns, and as a result the population only skims across the surface of questions, thoughts, and news. Carr explains his experience with this degradation of concentration and intelligence stating, “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”
Although I do believe there has been a general trend in making the way we think, read, act and live to be quicker and more efficient, I do not agree with the fact that all humankind’s ability to think deeply is gone. Like Carr mentions at the end of his article, I am skeptical of his sweeping skepticism. Take Furman for example. The basis of our school’s educational system is rooted in the liberal arts philosophy, meaning we are required to emerge ourselves in a variety of subjects to seek an “engaged” experience. We sit in classrooms with 15 kids and have a discourse for three hours a week with a professor whose sole purpose is to propose the very same “deep thinking” questions Carr attests is dead. I also find it ironic that Carr wrote a eight page article about the population’s inability to remain concentrated on one task for a period of time. I sat down and read the whole article in one given period and was able to focus and draw “deeper” questions from it. So yes, I am skeptical.
However, outside of a liberal arts setting, I can draw more legitimacy from his argument of degrading intellect. The Net has brought us instant gratification. It brought us a source of instant information, entertainment, and mindless static. News articles cram the most important points of a story in the first couple paragraphs. Reporters use catchy headlines to try and convince us to click on their story. Buzzfeed and the Daily Show can account as the main news source for the 18-24 aged demographic. With all that said, does that mean we are incapable of concentrating and thinking beyond surface level thoughts? And if Google and the Net is, in fact, reprogramming us like Carr states does that mean we are adapting for the worse? He quotes Socrates’ fear of the invention of written word stating it disgraces ones memory and ability to have good dialogue. Carr touches upon the invention of the printing press and the skepticism brought with the ability to mass produce text at an unprecedented rate. So what’s different with this? What makes the advent of the Net so much worse for the human race? If society is moving towards acting more and more like a machine does it do any good in fighting the progress?
I was never the kid that knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I shuffled from dream job to dream job as if I was discarding an old toy. Every year in school, I wrote down my current dream job and the results ranged from the forest green vests of a tollbooth operator to the embroidered aprons of a grocery store cashier.
Through the rolodex of jobs, the common denominator consisted of working with people. Slowly, through the classes I have taken, the organizations I have become involved with, and the jobs I have accepted, I pieced together my passion for marketing and public relations.
My summer internship at Oranj in Chicago, allowed me to apply the marketing knowledge and techniques I have learned in my classes and organizations to a legitimate company. Oranj is a wealth management application for high-net-worth individuals designed to integrate all aspects of money managing on one integrated platform. I specifically worked under the Marketing Director to form a marketing and social media strategy to keep the brand of Oranj relevant within the financial industry.
During the upcoming semester, I will be working at Infinity Marketing as an endorsement intern to aid in promotions and endorsement deals on radio. I hope to use this experience to expand my skillset in the realm of marketing and expose me to an aspect of the industry I have not had much experience working with.
After graduation, I hope to continue to work in the marketing and public relations industry. As a Digital Communications class, I expect the knowledge I gain from the hands on approach and the content I produce from the class to further my career path. Whether that lands me back in the financial industry or at a media agency, the skills gained will be relevant in any given industry.
In regards to my semester long topic, I am leaning towards profiling FUSAB, or Furman University Student Activities Board. I have been on the board since my freshman year and it has been my favorite social aspect while here at Furman. To profile the organization I can highlight the four different committees and the their general purposes as well as the events, speakers, and concerts we bring to campus. My main concern with this topic is that it has already been done in some way and it just a stale topic, especially to fellow Furman kids who live with FUSAB around them all the time.
My second topic involves doing something with the music scene in Greenville and the surrounding areas. I figure I could approach this by tackling two categories: live music at bars and concerts/festivals. My biggest concern with this topic is the content is not contingent upon my schedule and strictly relies on the acts following through. I cannot go out and take photos on a whim. The performances are at a set time, so if I cannot make it for whatever reason that’s that. Now, that is not to say I could not make it to the these performances or that the majority will not actually perform, it is just a concern.