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How Digital Media Is Reshaping Our View Of Time And Our View Of The World

If you haven’t seen a Cognitive Media video yet, stop what you’re doing and go watch a few, then subscribe to their blog feed. I love watching the videos they do for The RSA (the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce - longest name ever!) (The RSA’s YouTube channel for animated and non animated videos.) Even if I don’t agree with all their speaker’s, Cognitive Media’s animations help you at least gain an appreciation for their point of view. (Which is kind of the point behind their approach.)

Their most recent video by Philip Zimbardo called The Secret Powers of Time has some real gems in it. His overall point is that how you view time effects how you see the World and that drives your actions.

Their are 6 times of “Time Zones” people view the World through:

  1. Past Positive: Only remembers the good old times
  2. Past Negative: Only remembers regret and failure
  3. Present Hedonistic: Live only for pleasure and avoid pain
  4. Present Fated: It doesn’t pay to plan because everything I do is fate
  5. Future Oriented : This is where most of us are (meaning those who would take the time to write or read a business blog)
  6. Future Oriented: The religious view that life only really begins after death

In America a child drops pout of school every 9 seconds. I was really blown away by this one. To be fair I think they also count college but still that’s not good. It’s especially bad for minorities and males.

His point is that combine that with the stats that show, by a the time a boy is 21 years old he will have played 10,000 hours of video games alone. That apparently doesn’t include the time they play with friends. Our lives are becoming shaped by digital experiences we control and school is a passive environment we have no control over. Where the US has primarily been Future Oriented a large part of our digital youth are remaining Present Hedonistic.

My favorite points were the fact that youth don’t wear watches because they’re single function devices (does this make me a youth?) and that the most frustrating parts about our lives are waiting for our computer to boot up or download something. Woe unto are our first world problems and the plagues we must endure!!!

I know that there has been much hullabaloo made over this digitally rewiring of our brains. Many an author and educator has rung the warning bell to this fact but I think that it’s only 1/3 the problem. A third of the problem is that the education system literally teaches in the most inefficient way. A teacher conveying facts that students memorize and are then tested on how well they remember them is the worst way to educate someone. The other 1/3 (probably more like 1/2) is that these kids aren’t receiving the social support from families or religious or civic organizations.

I’m currently reading Nicholas Carr’s book (yes the “Is Google making us Stupid” guy) The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (I want to make sure I fully understand his arguments before I rip them a part). I’m also reading Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age which is kind of the counterpoint to Carr, pointing out all the good that can come from this shift. I personally think the truth’s somewhere in the middle (leaning more towards Shirky).

I don’t want to dismiss the problems that will stem from this current social evolution but, it’s just that, an evolution. And instead of complaining about it and trying to reverse it we need to learn from it, adapt the good parts of it and counter the negatives. Because yes there are negatives but there are far more positives.

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

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    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tac Anderson, Bellingham SocMed and others. Bellingham SocMed said: New post from @tacanderson, past #SMBellingham presenter: How Digital Media Is Reshaping Our View Of… http://bit.ly/d13z1Z #SMBellingham [...]

  • George Seybold

    IMHO, the fact that I need not retain facts by allowing them to simply be accessible when I need them is a true benefit. In fact I am actively trying to retrain my thinking patterns to capture patterns, seek out concepts and identify connections where others miss them. I think these are the skills of the future knowledge worker. I agree with what you have written here and the knowledge transferred in the video was incredible. I hope to see education transform in the future by shifting the focus from test taking to the problem silvers I seek to employ as my business grows - those are the ones I will pay top dollar for; not the MBA with a head of knowledge without context.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Knowledge is a commodity. Recognizing patterns, finding relevant knowledge and applying correctly are the skills we need know.

    Thanks for the comment George. Spot on.

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