Thoughts on the Documentary “Web”

things-087Below is a touching documentary about the impact the Internet is having on learning globally.

http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/single/621208643743/Web

The above documentary “Web” follows Michael Kleiman as he lives with a family in the extremely poor and isolated towns of Antuya and Palestina in Peru. While not going too deeply into the theory of connected learning, I thought this documentary touched on some very important points. Various academics and website founders express the idea that since the advent of television, the original meaning of “community” has largely been lost. It is suggested that “True” communities can only be maintained through face-to-face meeting and a sense of shared experience and vulnerability. The founders of the web services Foursquare and Meetup explain that the goal of their web tools is allow people to focus on exploring, experiencing and learning from the physical world around them without needing to worry about digital technologies.

Kleiman questions a number of politicians about the impact of cultural homogenisation that the Internet will likely cause in these traditional communities. Their response is that the extinction of indigenous traditions is an inevitability and that it is questionable for outsiders to decide whether it is for the best or not that these communities be exposed to connective technologies. I wasn’t convinced that this answer was sincere. The fact that the politicians, business people  and academics questioned about this issue were all Americans meant that the perspectives expressed were influenced by American interests and values. From my personal observations, the Japanese have done an admirable job of trying to retain awareness and value for their own traditions.

Kleiman questions the meaning of the word “friend” and it is suggested that this word has become “damaged” as it is now used to express too many different kinds of connections. I think Aristotle’s three definitions (Pedemonte, 2014) cover the traditional meanings of the word before the digital age. In short, these three definitions of friendship are based on utility, pleasure and goodness. Friendships are now often defined by digital connections. As these digital connections become more automated, what will happen to our real sense of connection? In my opinion I think we are already seeing the effects of this. People are often connected digitally to hundreds or thousands of social network “friends”, yet loneliness remains a worsening issue.

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I really enjoyed watching the lesson Kleiman gave to the students as they were connected to the Internet for the first time. He began by introducing his home of New York city and demonstrating that students could find out almost everything they wanted to know about the city through the use of the Internet. Once students realised there was no information about their own small town, Palestina, they were given the mission to work collaboratively to produce a Wikipedia entry. This was a fantastic lesson plan as it was authentic, formative, collaborative and intrinsically motivational as it allowed students to engage in their own interests.

Reference

Pedemonte, A. (2014). Aristotle´s Nichomachean Ethics: “Three Types of Friendship” (Based on Utility, Pleasure and Goodness).-. La Audacia de Aquiles. Retrieved 18 September 2016, from https://aquileana.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/aristotles-nichomachean-ethics-three-types-of-friendship-based-on-utility-pleasure-and-goodness/

Web. (2013). New York.

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