Manifesto: Hailey Watkins

1. We should encourage the digitization of academic materials, but preserve hard copies of literature, especially literature for children.

This statement is perhaps the one I feel most strongly about, especially after reading Chapter 5 in Vaidhyanathan’s The
Googlization of Everything
. In this chapter, we learn about the possible future of books and the steps that Google has
taken in attempting to digitize literature. While I agree that having journals and other academic resources available for online use makes the research process quicker and more available, resulting in the overall betterment of academic work, I disagree that all books should be converted to this format. As an avid reader and advocate of literacy among children, I believe that transforming all physical forms of literature into digital forms will significantly decrease the appeal of pleasurable reading for children and adults both. By only converting academic materials into a digital format, we maintain a hold onto the very powerful idea of curling up with a good book. If all forms of literature were only available online, people might begin to view reading as a chore completed only by sitting in front of one’s computer screen. I understand the presence of e-readers is becoming more and more popular, but I still don’t think it will be enough to continue to encourage our younger generations to pick up books. Browsing through shelves upon shelves of books in a library is one of the best ways to facilitate a love for reading and to discover an obscure but amazing book. By converting books to digital formats, we are removing the ability to browse through stacks by only providing lists of titles and genres—it isn’t the same.

Source: The Googlization of Everything

2. We should differentiate our celebration of works of art that have been digitally altered or enhanced from works of art created without digital aid.

This statement is especially prevalent in today’s world of computer animation and Photoshop. Although I do understand the talent and effort required to create a movie entirely through computer animation and green screen technology, I feel strongly that we should differentiate works of art made through this process from others made with less interference from technology. Despite the amazing effects enabled by green screen technology, I would much rather watch a movie knowing that the props and effects were all made by hand, instead of on a computer by an engineer or designer. With the invention of these new technologies the appreciation for art and set design has decreased enormously. As strongly as I feel about the deceptive use of computer animation and green screens with movies, I feel much more passionately about the use of digital enhancement in paintings and photographs. To see an amazing and inspiring photograph and then to learn that it had been enhanced by Photoshop is deceptive to the viewer. I appreciate art for everything that it should be, not for what a machine can do to it. While I understand that my argument will never be able to change the digital processes that are used today, I do hope that we can find a way to fairly compare and critique the works of art. An artist who paints a beautiful landscape shouldn’t have his or her work compared against an artist who paints a landscape and then uses digital backlighting to give the painting a luminescent quality. It just doesn’t compare.

Source: article, Photoshop: Art or Artifice?

3. We should encourage social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter to enforce a minimum age constraint of 13-years-old for members.

When I was in high school, Facebook was a website for college students, requiring a college email address or an invitation to join. Now everyone from 10-year-old children to 80-year-old men and women are a part of the website. Social media websites, especially Facebook and even Twitter, have stretched far beyond their original goals and ideas. When I first heard of Twitter, I imagined it as a source to follow celebrities and companies, not everyone who could possibly have something to say in 140 characters. Although I understand the desire to broaden a website’s user base, I do feel as though these websites should refocus their goals a bit by instating a minimum age that users must be to join—for example, users under the age of thirteen would be prohibited from the site. By the age of thirteen, users might be considered mature and responsible enough to understand the appropriate methods of social networking. I use social media as a way to keep in touch with old friends and to get to know new friends. Personally, I don’t feel as though there is as much need for that among younger generations who have yet to start high school or college. On another more practical note, this requirement by the social media websites would play a huge role in keeping children safe throughout childhood. Parents are often unaware of the behaviors their children and tweens display on these websites. An enforced age requirement could only help prevent possible dangerous situations between children and adults, or even situations between other children. If society were to adopt this rule I believe that numbers of online sexual predators and child pornography agents would decrease due to a more protected youth culture.

Source: Facebook Child Porn article from the Huffington Post

4. We should fully incorporate technological education into classrooms of youth by hiring technology-proficient educators that can teach students using current and modern technologies.

Although this statement might be a sensitive one, I do believe it is important for future generations. Because technology is so prevalent in today’s world, children are now being raised to function in a fully technological environment. Children today are much more fluent and capable with multiple different technologies simply because they are raised surrounded by them and encouraged to use them. In this case, I believe that we should continue to encourage and educate our children with the proper ways to operate and conduct oneself through technology. As an elementary and middle school student, we were all required to take one computer class that taught basic skills, and then one typing class that taught proper and accurate typing. By the time my classmates and I reached high school, we were fully proficient on computers because of our own experiences, not because of our in-class technological education. I think that all schools, beginning in elementary and continuing on through high school, should make the infusion of technology into classrooms mandatory. It is no longer acceptable in today’s world to hire or continue to employ teachers that aren’t able to contribute and perform in the latest ways—by incorporating technology. A teacher that refuses to teach using overhead and Smartboard technologies isn’t performing to the degree that students in this day and age have a right to be educated in. The biggest impact of this idea in society would be upon teachers who aren’t performing at the right levels. In order to enforce these new technology requirements, teachers would be required to adapt or be replaced.

Source: Teacher Technology article from Education World

5. We should lessen our focus on introducing technology into the lives of the elderly—specifically those who aren’t interested in having it infused into their lives.

I didn’t believe as strongly in this statement until I read portions of Sherry Turkle’s book that made me think otherwise. Turkle did not directly say this statement, but I formed it after reading about her encounters with the elderly in nursing homes and their relationships with technology. A significant portion of the elderly feels as though they have been abandoned when they are moved into nursing homes. Although there have been many studies regarding positive measures that robotic companionship can have among the elderly, and I encourage those interactions for mental health reasons, I have seen from first-hand experience the frustration and anger that comes with the elderly attempting to learn and master new technologies. This concept can be seen with the elderly attempting to learn about computers, cell phones, and even new technologies that come with the latest cars. The fact is that it is much harder for an older person to learn and master concepts the same way that a younger person might—which only leads to frustration. The phrase, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” comes to mind in this situation of attempting to teach a senior citizen how an iPad works. Even more importantly than their difficulties learning the technologies is the possible feeling of inadequacy. From my experience with senior citizens and newer technologies—most show no interest because they know they would have difficulty with it, they feel it would be embarrassing to be a slow learner, but most importantly, they seem to agree that these gadgets are the way of the future and aren’t necessary to learn at this stage of life.

Source: Alone Together

6. We should attempt to instill a deeper sense of responsibility to younger generations about what is appropriate material to communicate through technological channels.

This statement relates to my statement number three in some ways, but I feel as though this addresses a much deeper and more personal significance. Because of the way that children are raised today immersed in a technological world, I feel as though many of today’s youth are a bit clueless about what proper “online etiquette” is, especially concerning social media websites. I worry that children today might not consciously recognize that an online presence is permanent and might follow you for the rest of your life. Any pictures posted or comments written on someone’s Facebook wall, or even messages sent through email, are not as private as children seem to think they are. Even the idea of children communicating inappropriate content through text is scary. This inappropriate content can consist of sexual texts or “sext” messages, nude or suggestive photos, or even links and references to pornography websites. Teenage girls and boys sending these likely have no idea how easy it might be for that image or explicit language to leak out into the rest of the internet. Teens also might not recognize the consequences (such as being convicted as a sex offender) that might occur from sending out or possessing explicit pictures of minors. I think it is our responsibility to positively educate today’s youth about the implications of images or statements posted online. It is interesting to think that we are the first generation that will produce a President who once had a Facebook. Imagine running for an extreme governmental position and being concerned about an embarrassing or inappropriate picture you had posted in high school, or explicit messages you had messaged to someone. If we can educate children today about the permanent effects social media sites might have on their lives, we will likely help out many students for a better future.

Source: Sexting information from Mobile Media Guard