Sorting out my thoughts on culture and technological adoption has been a challenge this week. First, there is the basic problem of access, which we discussed last week. Now, if we are working on the presupposition that all parties involved have access, we need to figure out how they might or might not use technology and why. It turns out that answers to these questions are myriad and branch in many directions often leading to questions about perceptions and interpretations of technological terms which seem to be evolving so fast that it is hard to come up with sound definitions that are comprehensible to all affected parties. Simple vocabulary is not enough, but the rudiments of communication must start somewhere and misunderstandings are inevitable as we thrash it out.
JS Arnett makes some good points in his blog at http://jsarnett.wordpress.com/2008/02/02/technology-and-culture/, which is “For instance, in the US, most American, especially the younger generation, grab new technololgy as fast as it emerges. However, even some groups within the US mainline resist these changes. For instance, certain religous groups do not use many modern technologies, prefering a more simple lifestyle. Also, socio-economic factors also influence what technologies become integrated….you can integrate it if you can’t get your hands on it. Then if we look at countries other than the US, we see situations where the government keeps a tight control on what technologies are introduced into the population, and in certain other places, technology, or how it is used can even be considered a criminal act.” There are numerous problems involved with getting everyone on board the Technology Train.
Let’s define our terms: what is a “social networking technology”? a blog entry by danah boyd at
http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2008/01/18/lets_define_our.html has us thinking about how to define “social networking technology” and “social network sites”. Honestly, until I read this blog, I would have considered the terms to be, more or less, interchangeable. This week I pondered the reason that I would just so cavalierly gloss over their meanings. I’m still not sure of my personal reasoning. Perhaps it is because I have never given much thought to the actual differences, which in my estimation may be a part of the cultural divide. If I worked online more, I would be more aware of the nuances of the language of that particular cultural environment. It is precisely these principles and features of different cultures that we need to be aware of and try to identify with when learning and teaching in an online environment. We have to step outside of ourselves and, in fact, widen our body of existence to include a working understanding of cultural differences and how to reach a common ground for communication.