Cyborg nation?

Here's a continuation of my post-publication review of the highlights of 'Connected Minds, Emerging Cultures' - the book on cybercultures in online learning released last week by Information Age Publishers, USA.

Chapter 12 is called 'Cyber Theory and Learning' and was written by Vasi van Deventer of the University of South Africa. Vasi has written an engaging and stimulating account of how humans integrate new technologies into their lives, thoughts, and in some extreme cases, even into their bodies. The cybernetic organism, or 'cyborg', Vasi claims, is something we are all a lot farther down the road to becoming than we think. Adopting Andy Clark's 'natural born cyborg' thesis, Vasi argues that Net Generation people have a mindset that is:

...a way of engaging with the world that is distinctly different from the mindset of those who grew up in the industrial age. In this mindset, computers are not experienced as technology, but form an integral part of what the world is all about (p 178).

van Deventer also argues that it is the Internet and not TV that becomes the primary source of information, and that the cyborg generation need to create through consumption, even if it is merely copying and pasting from multiple sources to create a new mashup text. There are controversial views here - harking back to Marc Prensky's digital natives and immigrants theory, Mark Bullen's rebuttal, 'net generation nonsense' and even a challenge to the rules that govern what we currently consider to be plagiarism, copyright and intellectual freedom. This chapter is not hard to read, because it is written in an accessible style, but some may find it hard to come to terms with - that we are probably irrevocably marching down a long road which will lead to symbiotic relationships between human and computer that may not only be indistinguishable, but also inextricable. What are your views on this position?

(image source:


Anonymous said…
Steve: Technology is always intended to enhance life. Remember "Necessity is the mother of invention?" Apple built its entire enterprise on that concept.

The late Marshall McLuhan and his son Eric researched and documented the Four Laws of Media, which describes the process that new technology is created to fill a need, which in turn obsolesces a previous tool, which recovers elements lost from the past into the modern day, to the extent that eventually it eats itself.

The McLuhans summarized, "The consumer becomes the consumed."

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