Manifesto: Shelby Ward

In order to develop meaningful relationships with people, we should make an effort to go “offline” for periods of time
It used to be that we had to get online, and now we can’t seem to get off of it. Sherry Turkle’s essential point in writing Alone Together was to stress that technology threatens to lessen our connections with each other. It is the fact that even though we are always connected that somehow those connections are less meaningful. I’m not really in agreement with Turkle on this. I do not believe that my relationships with people are any less because of technology, if anything they are greater. For example, I am in a long distance relationship, which means I basically have a relationship with my phone for most of the week. But if weren’t for technology, I don’t believe that I would be able to have the relationship I have with someone three hours away. I am not sitting around waiting for letters or calls. I am texting, calling, and Skyping. However, I do agree with Turkle when she talks about the need to disengage ourselves from our “second selves,” our virtual lives at times. She gives the example of the child being picked up from school by the mother on her cell phone in her book and on a TED talk. For the people that mean the most to us, we need to find the time, find the moments that we can make human-to-human connections. That is why when my boyfriend and I do get to see each other, we make it a point to put away our phones. We don’t need to be other places, talking to other people if we are to maintain a meaningful relationship. I believe that we all make these commitments at certain times with our loved ones, and I believe that it essential that we keep making them.
Alone Together (Turkle)

We should handwrite at least one letter a year.
I started thinking about this idea after we read Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together. I was not in complete agreement with Turkle throughout the entire text, but at the end of the book one of the things I was left with was I wished we still wrote letters. Turkle talks about in the epilogue, actually entitled The Letter, about how she used to write letters to her mother during her first year in college. Turkle’s own daughter is spending some time in Ireland, and because of modern technology they are able to communicate nearly every day, through texting, Skyping, or emailing. However, even though Turkle has more communication with her daughter, she is wistful knowing that her daughter will not have the same tangible letters that she has. But what would they have to say to each other in a letter? They talk every day? The book, Alone Together is essentially a letter to her daughter.

I propose that we should all write one love letter a year to someone special, a mother, father, sibling, grandparent, lover, or maybe even to ourselves. I believe that even though Turkle has letters that she cherishes from her mother, in our generation a handwritten letter would mean exponentially more, because it is the least convenient option. For practicality sakes, writing letters is time consuming and tedious, but I believe that everyone could find time once a year to do it. I think the act of doing so would help to put a lot of things into perspective.
Alone Together: Epilogue: The Letter (Turkle)

We should question technologies that we have invested (or surrendered) more than two parts of our life to
This statement is in reaction to two things: The entire concept for the book, The Googlization of Everything and a statement that Kevin Kelly makes in What Technology Wants. Kelly says in his first chapter in regards to technology that, “Sometimes we should surrender to its lead and bask in its abundance, and sometimes we should try to bend its natural course to meet our own. We don’t have to do everything that the technium demands, but we can learn to work with this force rather than against it.” (Kelly, 17.) I think that this idea could probably be the theme for our entire class as well. For me, part of keeping technology responsible is to question it.

This is what Vaidhyantathan does with his book in regards to Google. We have invested so much of ourselves to a company that is still an adolescent in terms of a company’s lifespan. We do not yet know what kind of adult structure Google will turn out to be. It seems to be in its good intentions, and could quite possibly be just as benevolent. However, this does not mean we should not question our relations to it. I say that we should investigate any technology that we have invested more than two areas of our lives to. Even smart phones. I find new uses, new apps for my smart phone it seems nearly every day. To go back to Kelly, we should determine what technologies most aide us and why? And limit our usage of others . Google as a company will not survive indefinitely. All companies die. As talked abou in this TED talk: Geoffrey West: The surprising math of cities and corporations. Thus, what becomes of ourselves in regards to technologies and companies that we have invested our selves (in numerous ways) to that will eventually be obsolete? And it might be that we won’t have to worry about this in our lifetimes, but we might have control over the standard that future generations will follow.
The Googlization of Everything (Vaidhyanathan)
What Technology Wants (Kelly)
The surprising math of cities and corporations (West)

At least half of all your books should be on paper and bound.
I take this phrasing from thebe nutritional recommendation that, “half of all your grains should be whole.” I believe that for a healthy, intellectual lifestyle that half of all your books should be non-digital and tangible. Sure, sometimes it’s just more convenient for our fast paced lifestyles to grab a quick book on the go and just download it. At times it is even cheaper to grab an ebook from the value menu for Kindles and Nooks. However, I will argue that you will find in the long run the benefits of paper books to be far greater. The digitization of books is something that Vaidhyanathan mentions in Chapter 5 of the Googlization of Everything with the copyright issues of Google Books. Even though Google might not have gotten exactly what they wanted in the settlement, the question of ebooks in regards to publishers, newspapers, magazines, libraries, etc. is not over. But I believe that it will be our generation’s job to see what the answer is going to be. Which, once again I repeat: at least half of all your books should be whole.

Andrew Piper talks about the importance of touch in reading paper books in his article, “Out of Touch: E-reading isn’t reading.” Being able to touch the pages, the book is more real, it invites you in to its world, while in the interface of the screen it blocks you. The story is behind the screen, in the hard drive, in the cloud, but not at your finger tips (per se). But as you read, each page become a part of your own property, even if you are able to highlight and make notes on an e-reader, you will never be a part of your psyche, your body as they are capable of becoming when you can touch them. Now I understand that language is untouchable, but the ways that we react to it are very physical. Also, going onto a menu screen to pull up a book, will never be the same as reaching for it from a bookshelf. For me, there is nothing more beautiful that a home can posses than a bookshelf.
Googlization of Everything: Chapter 5 (Vaidhyanathan)
“Out of Touch: E-reading isn’t reading” (Piper)

We should keep photo albums and scrapbooks in addition to digital photos
The idea has come up a couple times in class throughout the semester that we don’t actually have to remember anything anymore. We don’t have to know facts, we can just look them up. We don’t have to remember events in our lives, because they are uploaded somewhere for us to search. However, in reaction to my statement about writing letters and keeping books, I would like to extend that idea to photographs. I have also been thinking about the idea of visual representation this semester in the digital age, primarily because my research project was looking at Instagram. I will not make the same statement that half of all photographs should be printed, but I believe the special ones should be. They should be put in albums on coffee tables when people come over, or hung on bare walls.

These statements that I am making about keeping certain things tangible and tactile, some may argue are just points of resistance to change. However, I would say that by keeping some things touchable, such as photographs that we are keeping the best parts of ourselves. The fact that we can store huge amounts of photos through our computers, phones, and of course cameras is amazing. We can capture more memories than ever before. But they do not do anybody any good if we have so many photos that they are overwhelming. There is more to photographs than what we can post to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, they are memories that we can touch. Just like with the ereaders, the screen blocks you from experiencing as much as you could. There is a difference between holding a photograph in your hand and looking at it in on a screen, just as there is a difference between the pages of a book and the words on a screen. I like to scrapbook when I have the time (mostly on breaks). It is time consuming and tedious, but also creatively fun. The pictures that I have in my scrapbooks are usually the same ones that I post to Facebook, but they are different in that they become special once they are on paper. They become a story. You can treasure moments, experiences, and photographs that you can touch, I am not sure if you can say the same for ones that you can only see. The whole idea of a treasure, is the fact that it can be touched.
“Out of Touch: E-reading isn’t reading” (Piper)

We should consider the cultural implications of technology before introducing them to “developing” countries.
This statement is in reaction to a forum posted on the Wiki, about cultures being able to skip technologies, which that idea was from Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants. I would love to be able to find a way that developing cultures could skip over certain technologies that have been found to be harmful for the environment for newer, greener technologies that are superior in many ways. The first problem is that even our own society has still not switched over completely to these technologies, even though we have the capability. It seems in order to switch a huge network of technologies a paradigm shift is needed. The second issue, as I have seen in Sri Lanka this summer, when a village is given newer, greener technologies they will revert back to older technologies once those become available.

The Wiki brought up the question, if we give computers or tablets to people as a development practice, can they skip past the perceived progression of technology? I argue that it cannot, because the systems and networks that have created these technologies simply don’t exist there. In the specific example on the forum, giving children tablets may increase literacy for those specific students, but they are not skipping any technology cycles. Many times a cultural gap develops between the newly educated and the remaining of the population. They lose their sense of cultural identity and imagination. These students that have experienced the effects of top-down development have been infiltrated with a different set of values and goals, a post-modern Western sense of the world. And sometimes it is not just technological systems that are no in place yet, but cultural ones too, such as the inferiority of women. Many cultures (including our own) have had to go through cultural shifts before women are seen as worthy as their male counterparts. Even still in contemporary America we still live in a patriarchal society to a large extent. So when technologies like this are given to student, the girls are not allowed to use them. So still only one half of the population is being educated.

I think that we must first look at how a technology will culturally impact a society before introduction. Modernization has become synonymous with Westernization. But the two should not be thought of as the same. Other than believing that “development” should begin at the grassroots level, I also believe that we should question the cultural implications of technology in other cultures. Institutions tend to hijack the imagination of a population. Another student brought up the fact that a Westernized teacher could be more identity stripping than a laptop. I completely agree with this fact. However, the laptop will do it in much more subtle ways. If the child looks up the word “bridge” or “house” for example, what do you think he or she will see? A picture of one of their local bridges or homes, or a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge or London Bridge and pictures of a two story, white washed home with columns? That is what I mean by stealing their cultural imaginary.
The Post-Development Reader: Chapter 14, Education As An Instrument of Cultural Defoliation: A Multi-Voice Report (Ki-Zerbo, Kane, Archibald, Lizop, and Rahnema) Chapter 15, Western Science And Its Destruction of Local Knowledge (Shiva)
What Technology Wants (Kelly)