NEW MEDIA: Google and The Microwave Oven

January 9th, 2013 by susan

This morning I received two emails from WordPress to approve two comments made on a 2006 Spinning post entitled, “Similes that Sizzle, Fizzle, Drizzle Out Your Ears” that was merely a point made about metaphors and similes by adding a visual.  The comments:

“I wanted to describe drizzle”

“Not to sizzle/fizzle/drizzle out my ears”

Both comments were made within a minute by the same person from Dubai. She/he evidently used “similes to describe drizzle” as the search term in Google.

My initial reaction to the comments was, “So?” I mean, what am I supposed to do about it? Go complain to Google. Refine your search terms. Learn something about description and simile and make up your own.

But there is more going on than a student’s frustration with the internet and the fact that the more we use it, the slower and dumber it seems to be. Like a microwave oven that amazingly heated a meal in two minutes, two minutes fifty years later seems like too long.

So that didn’t surprise me but what did is taking the time to respond by entering a comment. Prior to the internet it was rather tedious to research through physical books to find what you were seeking. On all the wrong leads as well as the good ones, you didn’t leave your mark, no one knew you were there, there was no one on the page to respond to, no ears or eyes to vent your frustrations or even your eureka! moments. Online, even a blog represents a person and while both the writer and the commenter are unknown to each other, there is communication of sorts, particularly when a comment is made.

But I rarely get comments on weblog posts, though there is heavy traffic on literary reviews I’ve posted over the years. Spam is easy enough to filter out but the school semesters are thick with online searching as literary critique via class papers comes due. The comments above took time to type up, fill in the form, go through approval. There appears to be a tendency to blame the post, as written by me, for not providing the proper information the commenter was seeking. This doesn’t truly surprise me either as it seems the norm in society today, but still, when you think about it, here’s this student (I’m guessing) looking for the easiest, fastest method of finding a way “to describe drizzle” and getting upset enough with what’s being laid at her feet (or rather, within her fingertips on the keyboard) and feeling somehow gypped in the process.

Interesting. The new media technology is definitely effecting a change in our way of thinking, of interaction, of learning.


5 Responses to “NEW MEDIA: Google and The Microwave Oven”

  1. Marcus Speh Says:

    I think we haven’t even seen the beginning of it yet. Only over the last two years so-called MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses, effort begun to build their student bodies, and the participants count by thousands for every course. Since these courses are online to begin with, this will be the main mode known to a generation of students rather than physical mode as in the past. Personally, I can’t say, as far as undergraduate studies are concerned at least, that I would’ve missed much: but I’m a party pooper and I used to be a terrible communicator, a bookish student who spent all his time studying rather than talking, and enjoying life etc. For me the true value of physical contact at school only arrived when I was a graduate student. The students who “attend” these MOOCs however, are not regular students, they are those to whom regular institutions of higher learning are closed: the sit in Dubai or somewhere on the Indian subcontinent, or in China, or in Africa… there are billions of them and they are hungry for education. Hungry in a way which people in the Western world who were born after 1945 (like me) cannot remember or even imagine. I’m quite confident that they will bend the online world into a shape that suits them.

  2. susan Says:

    Yes, I suppose when instructors are no longer real, classrooms are kitchen tables, and time is not of the essence, student interaction with the resource will be as real to them as the entire educational experience anyway.

    And, humans move one step further away from each other and into their own minds.

  3. Marcus Speh Says:

    I don’t know. I’m more optimistic. We’re both moving away from one another AND closer to one another. It’s a paradox and hard to predict how the world will feel like and look like to the young ones in 20, 50 years. It won’t be their nightmare but what they make of it and what they’re used to…

  4. susan Says:

    I’d like to be more optimistic but the slow changes I’ve seen are both exciting and sobering. We’re so much more in touch with each other and with a wider and more diverse people and yet we do so while accepting the lack of warmth of real human touch. *hugs* cannot be felt in the wrap of arms. Maybe language itself is the key to human evolution now even more than it was in our beginning, and a heavy burden will be placed on it as we interact sans the holding of hands.

  5. Marcus Speh Says:

    I’m still holding enough hands, thank God…but I think your soothsaying suggestion is possibly wise and sounds true…

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