Manifesto

1. Individuals ought to have continual access to time, and both measure and log time used for various activities.

Sundown should never come as a surprise. Even when there is a clock in every room and a cellphone in every pocket, we still often lose track of time. When our species was still young, the smallest unit of time measurement was an entire day. Today, we can measure time in nanoseconds. What I believe is that we should take what we are already doing with time and push it one step further. Instead of a subconscious acknowledgement of time, let’s force timing on every individual. Image if every action, every activity, was timed. We could observe how much time we use, and discover how to reduce that number. People would be able to focus on what tasks they are able to do faster, and their slower tasks could be taken over by someone else. If a log is kept, we could graph out the data and use that information to further reduce time use. Because each of us only has a limited amount of time, it is our best interest to monitor it. In Carr is correct in that personal clocks remind us of “time used, time spent, time wasted, time lost”, then let us not ignore this important information (Shallows 43). If we become hyper-aware of time than we can make great strides towards efficiency.

2. We should stop printing books.

This is a difficult request to make of society. The printed page has been around a long time, and has undoubtedly shaped our species into what it is today. But even when I prefer reading from a book, I must acknowledge that their time is at an end. Jacob Weisberg said in a 2009 Newsweek that books “are going to join newspapers and magazines on the road to obsolescence.” (Shallows 102) While they have some minor benefits, they come at too high of a cost. They are heavy, large, and a waste of resources. The price we pay for books has been known for a long time, but only recently have we developed a solution to this problem. Electrical devices like the Kindle and eBook allow us to store libraries full of information on a small and lightweight object. The implications of this are only beneficial. No longer would our works be subject to the decay of paper. Our children’s backs need not suffer under the weight of their schoolwork. Publishing would be made easier for authors, allowing society, not individuals in publishing departments, to determine what is worthwhile. Instant access to any book will yield instant results.

3. Classrooms need to change to match the way we learn.

While I have no personal problem with classrooms today, I do wonder if they match our learning method. Today, we engage in passive learning. We hear the information, write it in a notebook, and process it in our brains. This lag in perceiving the data means that students are being lectured instead of being in a discussion. But if we learn more when we are immediately engaged by what we hear (the discussion method) then we should take that into account when deciding how to teach students most effectively. Whether it be changing the classroom design or changing the lecture style, moving towards active learning and away from passive learning will, in the long run, produce more intelligent and adaptable students. Ted said it best in the first considered replies; “clearly technology has a greater impact on our lives now than ever before and it seems ridiculous not to acknowledge that when it comes to education.” I am not asking that we move towards online courses, as the lack of a central teacher, who can take the raw data and form it into something we can easily interpret, is still important to the learning process.

4. We should take long, meaningful breaks from being connected.

Being in a total state of disconnect is scary to almost anyone who participates now in online society. We have adapted to the constant bombardment of texts, emails, and feed updates that we have actually come to be dependent on them. At least, we think so. A break from being connected would remind everyone that their lives don’t have to take place only on the social sphere, and that we do not actually need to be as connected as we are. I would suggest mandatory “off-time” where people must be separated from their electronic prison for a certain amount of time each week. This could relieve stress and make our thoughts less erratic. Nicolas Car said that when he disconnected, he “started to feel generally calmer and more in control of [his] thoughts – less like a lab rat pressing a lever and more like, well, a human being.” (Shallows 199) While actually enforcing this is almost impossible, just the idea of it should spread enough where people begin making plans for their off-time, and remind society at large that there is still a real life that is much more important that the digital world of which we now reside in.

5. If we cannot stop making new generations of “skimmers”, then we should embrace this new reading style and adapt our future texts to meet this new need.

Critical reading seems to be circling the drain. While before people characterized skimming texts for important information as an act of laziness, it seems that the ability to completely read a text is lost thanks to the digital age. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing; “the benefits…from using the Net – quick access to loads of information, potent searching and filtering tools, an easy way to share…opinions with a small but interested audience – make up for the loss of [the] ability to sit still and turn the pages of a book or a magazine.” (Shallows 8) If we set up our current texts to adapt to this new reading style, our ability to both learn and create in the digital world will increase. Texts should be placed online, be mostly paraphrases, and incorporate links. However, there are of course downsides; knowing raw data does not paint as complete a picture as seeing the progression of data, or reading the intermediate “fluff”. Focusing on raw data may come at the cost of our ability to think progressively or read in the context of humanity.

6. We should be conscious of our increased ability to impact those we know.

In What Technology Wants, Kevin Kelly has a great line where he says, “We have 5,000 “friends” on our list but space in our heart for only 50. Our ability to impact has expanded beyond our ability to care.” With technology weaving an ever-more intricate web between us, we are more connected to one another than ever before. We can video chat with acquaintances, blog about neighbors, and search for facts about peers. Our ability to give or take social status, whether it be liking a video or being another “hit” on a webpage, has increased exponentially since the spawn of the Net. And yet, we care little about doing this, seeing it more as a side-effect of living in the digital age. But this social currency plays more into our real lives (instead of our digital lives, where it is normally expected to be) than we typically realize. If we do not care about how we affect others, then we would be capable of immense atrocities without any feeling of guilt or shame.