31 December 2010

Two Things to Close Out 2010

Thing, the first:

As a guy that counts the Back to the Future trilogy, LostWatchmen, and Slaughterhouse-Five among his cultural touchstones, time is a favorite subject of mine. This is especially true when books or movies or television shows play around with the concept of people's perception of time. The following is an animated lecture on how people perceive time, how that affects the way they live their lives and how the current generation's complete concept of time and perception has been completely changed by the Internet's influence on how we process information. If you have ten minutes, check it out because it made me question whether I was a past-positive or past-negative (probably the latter) and forced me to examine how I can help students to become more future-oriented.

Thing, the second:

Along with Louis CK, Patton Oswalt is one of my favorite comedians because of the way he mixes intelligence with his humor. He also has the added benefit of showing an interest in things that I also enjoy, like comic books and sci-fi movies. In the above linked article, he writes an extended treatise on why the proliferation of the Internet, the way we interpret and process information, has changed the subset previously known as nerd or geek culture. 

Students often ask me why I don't freely download music from the Internet as opposed to paying for it. Besides the fact that it's technically stealing, I fall into Oswalt's camp of enjoying the idea of seeking out and earning my "street" cred for the things I enjoy. And here's a sentence that will begin with a phrase that really dates me. When I was a kid, I had to seek out the knowledge about Marvel and DC comics on my own. This meant that I spent every cent I earned with my meager allowance and lawn-mowing money on comic books and trade-paperbacks and consume them in such a way that I could hold my own as being an expert in those areas. There weren't opportunities to download an entire run of Superman or Spider-Man comics.

Trust me, there's no better boon to society than the idea that all information is instantly accessible. But, as Phillip Zimbardo stated above and as Patton Oswalt specifies to the geekier aspects of our culture, it has completely changed how we interact with and ingest information. Far be it from me to be that guy that complains about liking a band before it got big and then subsequently sold out, but the kinship one has to a pop culture landmark (be it a music act, character or movie) is special and unique partially because of the way we come to like it, not just because we like it.

I'm sure I'll have more to say on the subject later on because I plan to spend my New Year's Eve with the McBride brood where McB and I will inevitably discuss both of these concepts and ideas. I hope your ushering in of the new year involves similar thoughtful discussion and good times. And remember, it's pronounced "twenty-eleven," not "two-thousand eleven."

No comments:

Post a Comment