Friday, August 22, 2008

IT's About Business Objectives Stupid

Last term I was contacted by a professor, Dr. Kevin Gallagher, as he was questioned by a reporter who was working on a story about IT (Information Technology) programs, their variations, and how and why students pick their chosen degree program. Upon his request, I provided a short list of answers and that was that. Dr. Gallagher recently notified me about the article.

In short, the article is spot on concerning IT programs and the need of those enrolling in them to consider broader aspects of business objectives and not just technical knowledge.

Check it out.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Please skim this.

In a recent IT Conversations Interviews with Innovators podcast, the discussion centered on removing clutter from the visual field of students when training. That same morning I also listened to Scott Hanselmans’s podcast which dealt with micro-blogging. Here, the discussion utilized the metaphor of information as a river and how one deals with the torrent of news and data, specifically how one organizes it to be useful with tools such as twitter and RSS Feeds.

In both podcasts the talk touched on the issue of how possibly this instant information has made us less tolerant to large amounts of text in mediums such as books. There was also a mention of an excellent article in Atlantic Monthly by Nicholas Carr that asked the question, "Is Google making us stupid?" The question in my mind, along the same thought, is, "Does micro-blogging technologies such as twitter, IM clients, or text messaging foster a culture that lacks the ability to maintain a sustained period of attention to the formation of ideas and thoughts?"

Ironically, I used Google to find more information on the topic searching with the words, "google learning sustained thought." What I found an interesting article from the New York Times by Motoko Rich entitled, "Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?"

For those with diminishing attention spans I will get to the crux: some purport that digital text is read by those who otherwise would turn to the television or electronic gaming, and is therefore a gateway to more sustained reading. While that may be true, my concern is along the lines of Rich’s article:

Critics of reading on the Internet say they see no evidence that increased Web activity improves reading achievement. "What we are losing in this country and presumably around the world is the sustained, focused, linear attention developed by reading," said Mr. Gioia of the N.E.A. "I would believe people who tell me that the Internet develops reading if I did not see such a universal decline in reading ability and reading comprehension on virtually all tests."

Then, Rich’s article refers to Carr’s Atlantic Monthly piece:

Nicholas Carr sounded a similar note in "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" in the current issue of the Atlantic magazine. Warning that the Web was changing the way he — and others — think, he suggested that the effects of Internet reading extended beyond the falling test scores of adolescence. "What the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation," he wrote, confessing that he now found it difficult to read long books.

In summary, I think that any technology that helps present, streamline, and make information accessible is good. However, what are the side effects? Good question, but now my attention is distracted and I must move on to something else.