In the Phaedrus, Plato famously objected to writing, noting that it would cause a number of ills: it would lead to the decay of memory, it would deceive people into thinking that they possessed knowledge merely because they had read about it, and it was dumb - that is, it couldn't answer questions in a dialectical format. If I read something I don't understand or disagree with, I can't ask the text to explain itself. It will always say what it says, forever. In general, the response of technologists has been that Plato was both right and wrong.
Some recent research findings have got me thinking a lot about Franz Kafka’s story about a young clerical worker who wakes up half-transformed into a giant insect. No, it’s not research from the new journal Horror Studies but something even more horrifying from pediatric research. Research published in the August issue of Pediatrics by psychologists from Iowa State University has suggested a causal link between playing video games and children developing Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The study reported that children who exceeded the two hours per day of screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to be above average in attention problems. The researchers commented: "ADHD is a medical condition, but it's a brain condition. We know that the brain adapts and changes based on the environmental stimuli to which it is exposed repeatedly. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to believe that environmental stimuli can increase the risk for a medical condition like ADHD in the same way that environmental stimuli, like cigarettes, can increase the risk for cancer." Cue the sudden sprouting of mandibles and antennae! But also:
In July 2009, YouMedia launched as an ambitious attempt to re-imagine the library as a more relevant learning resource for today’s teens. Understanding that the landscape has changed how teens learn, socialize and self-identify, how do we remix the public library experience so it can truly engage teens in a way that supports its core mission? A partnership between the Chicago Public Library and the Digital Youth Network, YouMedia took on this task through the creation of a unique 21st century physical learning space and an innovative online space to connect learners 24/7. The 5,500-square-foot space is open seven days a week to any Chicago teen, where they have access to more than 100 laptops and desktop machines, professional grade cameras and software, and a full music studio all at no cost.