Thoughts on Hamlet’s Blackberry

Take the crowd with you!

That seems to be one of the goals of our hyper-connected lives. Our thinking is increasingly outward as we retreat from “the few and the near”* and immerse ourselves in the “many and the far.”* The changes that have occurred in society and in the individual as a result of the Social Revolution are truly life altering; for better or for worse. With these changes, new questions arise. “The [ultimate] question is whether the hyper-connected life is taking us where we want to go.”*

In his book, Hamlet’s Blackberry, William Powers uncovers two issues which every person involved in education of any kind (from parents to professors) must consider. The first issue is one of depth. We have never had more options for depth. “Everything that happens to us all day long, every sight and sound, every personal encounter, every thought that crosses our minds is a candidate for depth.”* The problem is that depth takes time. Depth requires us to look inward, rather than outward. Depth requires focused thought. All of these require disconnecting from the constant stimulation of a hyper-connected life. As educators, it is imperative that we utilize these wonderful new technologies to encourage depth rather than shallow busyness if meaningful learning is to take place.

The second issue concerns how people learn. It is fascinating to watch the unfolding of a post-literate society.** With Gutenburg’s invention of the printing press, learning was drastically changed as people began to think in a linear, objective manner which fostered individualism. However, “mass electronic media work on us in a different way from print, those technologies were creating a new person whose mind was less linear and individualistic, more group-oriented.”* The most advanced societies are quickly reverting to become oral-learning cultures. The question for educators of every kind is, How will we adjust our means and methods to educate in a post-literate world?

I would encourage every educator, especially those involved in teaching the Word of God to consider these two issues. Although, you may have to disconnect for a while! I highly recommend Hamlet’s Blackberry for more reading on these and other issues that arise as a result of our ever-increasing connectivity.

*Quotes taken from Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers
**A society that prefers to learn through oral and visual means rather than through reading and writing.

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