August 2010

Summer Technology Musings: Does technology serve us or do we serve it?

As the summer is coming to an end, I keep thinking how technology will change my teaching and my life next year. These thoughts made me reflect on my various technology encounters this summer. For example, I like watching TED talks. This is one of the most powerful resources on the web now (in my view) because they make us think outside of the box and allow access to very powerful contemporary thinkers. The access to big ideas we have today is truly unprecedented. However, I also had a different technology encounter. For years I have been using Thunderbird e-mail client and now I decided to migrate my e-mail to Outlook (so everything will be together – my schedule, reminders, tasks and e-mail). Yet, the migration happened to be not as straightforward as one might think. Consequently I decided to go over my old e-mail and check what I have been saving… This opened my eyes on how much clutter I have in my e-mail. Unlike the clutter we have at home, electronic clutter makes us feel that it does not occupy space, so we can save as much as we want of it (or that it occupies little space) and thanks to Search we can find what we want. Yet, I keep wondering if this “electronic clutter mentality” is a good trend or if it clutters our lives, our thinking and our priorities. I am not sure I have the answer to this question, but I am confident, I will be using DELETE button much more often now… I hope that technology and unlimited access to information will force me to learn how to prioritize my time. For example, I realized that I cannot work and being distracted by e-mails all the time, so now when I work, I do not open my e-mail. On the other hand, when I read a paper and I want to search for a new term or a new idea, the internet information access is invaluable… So I guess my goal for the next year will be to learn to prioritize my time and to make technology to serve me and not be a servant of technology.

Check the following TED’s TALK: – Kevin Kelly on how technology evolves…

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