The Internet Hedgehog bites back!

I have been following the B.B.C. Series “Virtual Revolution” and have so far reviewed the first of its four programmes in this blog (see earlier postings under the title “Virtual Revolution”). web site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/virtualrevolution/

Those ten or twenty loyal followers who have read these postings will know that I have not been blown away by this series so far. This has been a very negative type of series that has looked at the dark side of the internet and the undoubted threats to our freedom from personal information becoming available so easily with the rise of social networking programmes such as MySpace and Facebook.

The last programme was called “Homo Interneticus” and took on the huge subject of how we, as a species, are being changed by the web revolution. (As an aside I still don’t get the “Virtual revolution” title as, virtual reality was hardly mentioned in all four episodes other than a short bit on “Second Life”).

They looked at the younger generation and concluded that they were “Internet Foxes” able to multitask and jump from one screen to another in no-time, eat their meal, text on their i-phone and even say the odd intelligible word or phrase.

This animal analogy was used as the basis of a test that was conducted at University College in London with people of different ages, races and gender.They found that generally, the younger you are the more likely you are to be able to multitask, the older you are then you are at the other end of the spectrum, a hedgehog… slow in the search for information and very much a one-stop-shopper who is unable to chew gum and surf the web at the same time!

The test that they used was available online :

I took the test and came out as ….a hedgehog. Now I’m aware that I’m as ancient as they come in comparison to those fresh-faced M.I.T. geniuses that they showed in the programme but I can hold my own on the net… well, maybe I am a bit slow and my wife has to shriek at me to get my attention… but a hedgehog!

Well the hedgehog is going to bite back! I was not impressed with the way that the potential of the internet was given such little time throughout the series. The brilliant things that children have produced using the web was mostly overlooked. The potential of the web to break down barriers and get children from all over the world collaborating was mostly overlooked. There was just one positive piece from Korea towards the end of the programme.

In this blog, this hedgehog has laboured slowly to use the power of the internet to communicate with some brilliant educators, I’ve  join in online discussions on Twitter about technology and I have read the blogs of great internet  fox children  in Van Meter, Iowa.

I believe that the internet is a potentially powerful force for good, but I am not blind to its problems… it represents all of us human “animals” from the good to the evil just as society does. It does though provide opportunities for study and learning that this hedgehog could not even have dreamt of as I was making my slow progress from the Sinclair ZX, to the B.B.C. B to the great day I actually could afford and got my first laptop.

I learn a lot from it in my slow old way… just think of what our children are learning as I type this… and what their children might yet learn and become!

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