Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Internet Use

A 6 Feb 2006 Gallup Poll report on Internet use highlights a number of points of interest to me, particularly with respect to the work I do in teaching first-year composition. The innovation built into the Purdue program already pushes an awareness of technology to the foreground in matters of composition, but the syllabus with which I work (tip of the hat to Drs. Thomas Rickert and Colin Charlton) takes a focus on technology to the level of networking, cultural study, and support in student discovery for the world unfolding online in the 21st century.

Common themes in my delivery of the syllabus include: expanding notions of composition, the common ground to be negotiated in all "calls to write," the advantages of becoming "tech-fluent," and the strength of presentation for the job market for those who have been writing online and in public for an extended period of time.

Dr. Frank Newport of the Gallup Report substantiates the value of this approach, though perhaps inadvertently, with his recent report. He states, "Americans are adopting and adapting to the online world at a slower pace than you might think." He goes on to note email and retrieving information about news/weather are the top activities of those online, with shopping and travel planning activities engaged by more than fifty percent of internet users. He discusses his surprise that only 20% report regularly or occasionally reading blogs, a surprise I believe loses it's punch when taken in context to note the relatively short history of blogging availability, the relatively large number at 20% when the measure of investment is taken into consideration, and the fact that "reading blogs" very likely takes place casually or randomly at a level beyond the perception of the unfamiliar reader. In other words, the information generated by writers isn't read/received, recognized as, or consigned to "blogging" ... that's the beauty of it!

Nonetheless, Newport's analysis, taken in light of counsel from Thomas Friedman (The World Is Flat, 2005) to anticipate a dramatic shift in the delivery of services and technological advances as India and China come to the fore, reinforces my conviction that American students must be encouraged now to equip themselves for digital citizenship and the world of tomorrow that is certainly here today. Those who "adopt and adapt" early will have the edge in securing lives they hope to know as their own, even as they lead the way to worlds that none of us have seen before.

I choose to believe in good things ahead. Care to join me?

Image source: MSNBC, "Poll Power," 27 July 2004

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1 comment:

Winston said...

In reading and trying to understand this, I can hear Marshall McLuhan in the background suggesting that "The medium is the message." Is your thesis close or at least complementary to that? Without the drug culture of course... :-)