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Disrupting the Discourse of the "Digital Disruption of _____"

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Disrupting the Discourse of the "Digital Disruption of _____"

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Talk given at University of Applied Sciences for Management and Communication in Vienna in January 2017. It critically interrogates the narrative of digital disruption. It will describe some of the contemporary psychological and social research about the digital lifeworld and make some broader observations about how to best think about technological change.

Talk given at University of Applied Sciences for Management and Communication in Vienna in January 2017. It critically interrogates the narrative of digital disruption. It will describe some of the contemporary psychological and social research about the digital lifeworld and make some broader observations about how to best think about technological change.

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Disrupting the Discourse of the "Digital Disruption of _____"

  1. 1. DISRUPTING THE DISCOURSE OF THE DIGITAL DISRUPTION OF ______________
  2. 2. ABOUT THIS TALK This presentation will interrogate the narrative of digital disruption. It will describe some of the contemporary psychological and social research about the digital lifeworld and make some broader observations about how to best think about technological change. GET STARTED
  3. 3. Randy connolly Professor, MATHEMATICS&COMPUTING Mountroyaluniversity Calgary,canada
  4. 4. 4 CALGARY CANADA
  5. 5. LOCATION
  6. 6. 2007
  7. 7. 1999 2010 2009 2007 2011
  8. 8. LET’SGET STARTED!
  9. 9. My research since 1995has PARTLY involved examiningthe rhetoric around optimistic predictions …
  10. 10. … about a wide variety of different technologies sincethe 1820s.
  11. 11. _____ tend to elevate, to extend and increase knowledge as well as business, and in our country especially, they will unite us more closely as a people, and bind us together as a common brotherhood. ______ will turn the country into one big community. _______ will introduce an epoch of neighborship without propinquity. ___________ will restore a sense of community in an increasingly anticommunal world. With the help of the ________, we are turning the country into one big community. It will not be long ere the whole surface of this country will be channeled by a knowledge of all that is occurring throughout the land; making, in fact, one neighborhood of the whole country. _________ are the iron bands that will bind the various sections of this country together by a community of interest. ______ will restore a sense of community. Boat Canals (1815- 1820s) The Internet (1994) Telephone (1880s) Railroad (1840s) Telegraph (1850s) Automobile (1890s- 1900s) Radio (1920s) Wireless (1900s-1910s)
  12. 12. One of themost enduring features of predictions about certain technologies …
  13. 13. … is the belief that is going to revolutionize a given technology education.
  14. 14. Since the popularization of the web in the mid 1990s, oneofthe most common claims aboutit, is how education needs to change because ofit.
  15. 15. While educators have often had reservations about new technologies replacing old technologies …
  16. 16. … educators do not alwayshave the opportunity to fully examine the evaluative research on new education technologies.
  17. 17. Indeed, quite often evaluating a new education technology is only possible after it has been adopted.
  18. 18. Thus educators arefrequently encouraged to adopt anew technology not by research demonstrating its merits …
  19. 19. … butby a series of metaphors or analogies comparing the new unknown technology to anold andtrusted one.
  20. 20. Yet even if research ultimately emerges that is critical ofthe new technology, by then it is too late…
  21. 21. institutionalinertia,financial investment, andinterest politics makeit difficultto un-adopta technology.
  22. 22. FURTHERMORE,predictions about radical disruption due to technological change are often built upon a simplistic theoryof social change
  23. 23. Thecommonwayofseeing technologyisthat itis akintoa cueball impactingoraltering therestof society
  24. 24. In thisperspective keytechnological inventions have transformed the world. Thusnew technologies need to be analyzed to understand the wide changes they will enact.
  25. 25. This approach to technology isgenerally referredtoas TechnologicalDeterminism
  26. 26. (society, politics,economy,psychology,etc) Independent Variable Dependent Variables TechnologicalChange determines
  27. 27. Itis understandable why computerprofessionalsfind technological determinismattractive. We arethepeople helping toinventnew technologies
  28. 28. Itis alsounderstandablewhy media professionalsfind technological determinismattractive.
  29. 29. It feeds THEIR clear desire to be socially relevant
  30. 30. AND OFCOURSEITIS VERYunderstandable why BUSINESSPROGNOSTICATORSfind technological determinismattractive. THEREARESTRONG ECONOMICINCENTIVESTO BEING ANEARLY PLAYERIN AGAMEOF ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION.
  31. 31. YET
  32. 32. Mostcurrenthistoriansandsociologistsof technology firmly reject technological determinism theoretically inconsistent becauseitis empirically under-supported and
  33. 33. The well-established academic field of science, technology and society (STS) studies has time and time again found that whenexamined carefully most technologies rarely have had theeffect that was expected or had the transformative impact people claim.
  34. 34. Why?
  35. 35. Some examples …
  36. 36. First some fine examples of bridges in the UnitedStates in the late 19th century. To begin, let’s look at a high technologyof the 19th century: bridges.
  37. 37. 1884 http://bridgehunter.com/ny/orange/petticoat-lane/ 1886 http://bridgehunter.com/ny/orange/hubbard-road/
  38. 38. 1886 http://bridgehunter.com/ny/saratoga/hadley/ 1869 http://bridgehunter.com/pa/perry/rices
  39. 39. Now, contrast those to some bridges built in the UnitedKingdom at the same time.
  40. 40. 1842 http://historic-railway-buildings.fotopic.net/p13531318.html
  41. 41. 1846 http://historic-railway-buildings.fotopic.net/p12745082.html
  42. 42. 1842 http://historic-railway-buildings.fotopic.net/p13531319.html
  43. 43. 1889 http://www.flickr.com/photos/26354/122035079/
  44. 44. 19 BC http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Pont_du_gard.jpg
  45. 45. British bridges were “treated as monuments symbolizing progress already achieved, the whole ethos surrounding their American counterparts was one of expectations of future progress.” -- Arnold Pacey, The Maze of Ingenuity: Ideas and Idealism in the Development of Technology Both these bridges were built in 1890 andcross a similar width of river, one in Britain, the otherin theUnited States
  46. 46. http://www.sewerhistory.org/grfx/components/pipe-early1.htm
  47. 47. Sholes original typewriters were plagued by the bars jamming when typist typed too quickly. Remington (which bought Sholes), solved the problem in the 1880s with qwerty keyboard (i.e., made it harder to type quicker) and also allowed salesmen to quick type TYEWRITER. Example of alternate keyboard arrangement that is significantly quicker to type on.
  48. 48. “Because small, randomevents that happenearly canbe magnified tohave great importance later, the eventual outcome candepend quite sensitively on circumstances – it ispath dependent. … Such path dependence implies that the outcome cannotbe predicted withany certainty aheadoftime.” Robert Pool,Beyond Engineering: How Society ShapesTechnology (1997)
  49. 49. Technological determinism visualizes competing technologies as a marble in a bowl: gravity forces it towards the same destination regardless of the path it take (and thus technology is predictable)
  50. 50. Constructivist historians see technologies like a marble poised on top of an upside down bowl: the path the marble takes (and its resulting destination) can be quite different. Its path can be quite complicated to understand, and requires examining factors such as: the dissemination of scientific discoveries, existing technological infrastructure, market judgments, organizational decisions, actions by key individuals, etc.
  51. 51. however
  52. 52. While the path a technology takes will depend on a wide variety of factors made near the beginning of a technology’s development, it eventually follows a path that is constrained and difficult to veer from. Some people have called this technological momentum. A technology develops momentum or has inertia due to established interests (financial, educational, biases, social practices, etc) and it can be very difficult for a technology to shift or change drastically after that early stage.
  53. 53. Most technological deterministic impact prognosticators do theirwork by lookingat the functional capabilities of a given technology and then imagining theimpact of those functions.
  54. 54. e.g.
  55. 55. The introduction of anti-lock disc brakes have not reduced accidents at all, because drivers tend to drive faster and tailgate more closely due to the improved braking technology and also partly because of increases in the intensity of traffic due to unexpected changes in urban geography.
  56. 56. The introduction of household technology did not end up creating, in the words of Ruth Schwartz Cowan, less work for mother, but in fact more work because of a series of social changes that could not have been predicted if one limited one’s analysis just to the functional capabilities of the household technologies.
  57. 57. it is always a mistake “to assess the impact of a technology on the basis of inference from capabilities instead of on the basis of evidence”
  58. 58. If we do examine the evidence we will see that the intrusion of ICT into activities such as reading and education has NOT improved human knowledge but arguably done the opposite
  59. 59. electronicReading comprehension 1
  60. 60. Are there differences in the reading experience between paper and screen?
  61. 61. There is evidence that YESreaders’ comprehension levels are significantly lower when reading materials on the screen in comparison to reading paper materials
  62. 62. Eveland Jr,W. P., & Dunwoody,S.(2001).User control and structural isomorphism or disorientation and cognitiveload?:Learning from the web versus print.Communication Research,28(1). Liu,Z. (2005).Readingbehavior in the digital environment.Journal of Documentation,61(6). Macedo-Rouet,M.,Rouet,J. F., Epstein,I., & Fayard,P. (2003). Effects of online readingon popular sciencecomprehension.Science Communication,25(2). Ji, S. W., Michaels,S.,& Waterman,D.(2014).Printvs. electronic readings in collegecourses:Cost-efficiency and perceived learning. The Internetand Higher Education,21. Ackerman,R., & Lauterman,T.(2012).Taking readingcomprehension exams on screen or on paper? A metacognitiveanalysis oflearning texts under time pressure.Computers in Human Behavior,28(5) DeStefano,D.,& LeFevre,J. A. (2007).Cognitiveload in hypertext reading:A review.Computers in Human Behavior,23(3). Mangen,A.,Walgermo,B. R., & Brønnick,K. (2013).Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen:Effects on reading comprehension.International Journal ofEducationalResearch.
  63. 63. Whyare comprehension levels lower?
  64. 64. Scanning whileConsuming electronic text 2
  65. 65. Researchintoactual behavior whenconsumingtextonline provides a clear explanation for diminished comprehension
  66. 66. Early researchinto web usability quickly uncovered a very important fact abouthow people actually read on the web
  67. 67. How long doyou spend visiting a web page? You’re looking at the answer
  68. 68. aredisplayed for less than 25% of all web pages four seconds! Weinreich et al, “Off the Beaten Tracks: Exploring Three Aspects of Web Navigation”, IW3C2 2006
  69. 69. areshorter than 52% of all visits ten seconds! Only about11%are visited formore than 2minutes. Weinreich et al, “Off the Beaten Tracks: Exploring Three Aspects of Web Navigation”, IW3C2 2006
  70. 70. Theevidence forthisis verystrong It has been empirically verified via server records, eye tracking in labs, and monitoring software.
  71. 71. We are only able to see things clearly and in focus in the fovea
  72. 72. Word Skipping: Implications Eye movements in reading are characterized by short periods of steadiness (fixations) followed by fast movements (saccades). Saccades are needed to bring new information into the centre of the visual field where acuity is best; fixations are required to recognized words. … Some words are fixated more than once, some are initially not fixated but immediately afterwards regressed to, and some are not fixated at all. Marc Brysbaert and Francoise Vitu, “WordSkipping: Implications forTheories of Eye Movement Control in Reading,”Eye Guidance in Reading andScenePerception (Elsevier Science, 1998)
  73. 73. Results of an eye-tracking experiment in which subjects were being tested for which text layout was easier to read; notice that even when subjects were being asked to read, very little reading (i.e., fixations – shown as circles) was actually done
  74. 74. Nielsen Group, “F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content,” http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html (April 17, 2006)
  75. 75. http://www.ojr.org/ojr/stories/070312ruel/
  76. 76. Nielsen Group, “Email Newsletters: Surviving Inbox Congestion,”http://www.useit.com/alertbox/newsletters.html (June12, 2006) Notice Red areas show that only first two words in headlines scanned are
  77. 77. Eye-tracking studies in the past few years show that in comparison to 15 years ago, people now scan newspapers in a very similar way to web pages
  78. 78. TheEVIDENCE forthisis very wellvalidatedempirically Users are reading at best 20% of the text on a web page.
  79. 79. Server-recordanalysis hints thatthesestudiesactually over-statetheaveragestay time (i.e.,actualaveragestayiseven brieferthan 10seconds). WHY?
  80. 80. Because adult sites appear to be the largest single category of web site (with email and social networking a close second and third) ... … and onaverage thestay time for adult and email requests is significantly longer than non-adult and non-email requests.
  81. 81. Are academics anydifferent?
  82. 82. NOPE
  83. 83. Reading time: Paper 10-15min
  84. 84. Reading time: acrobatpdf 1-2min
  85. 85. Academic’s self- assessmentof theirpdfreading time 5-10min
  86. 86. users rarelyhave even remotelyaccurate insight into their actual scanning behaviors
  87. 87. What aboutOTHERREADING devices?
  88. 88. and 3distraction multitasking
  89. 89. One absolutely vital feature of most current electronic reading devices is that they contain within them substantial potential for distractibility.
  90. 90. This potential distractibility lowers comprehension levels and lowers task completion probabilities.
  91. 91. It is becoming progressively more common for people to multitask, especially in regards to different media technologies.
  92. 92. Who cares?Some have argued that younger digital generation can multitask successfully
  93. 93. unfortunatelyTheevidence tellsadifferentstory
  94. 94. For instance
  95. 95. Bowman,L.L., Levine,L. E., Waite, B. M., & Gendron,M. (2010).Can students really multitask? an experimental study ofinstantmessaging while reading.Computers & Education,54 (4) Levine,L.E., Waite,B. M., & Bowman,L.L. (2012).Mobile media use,multitasking and distractibility.International Journal ofCyber Behavior,Psychology and Learning(IJCBPL),2(3),15-29. Ophir,E., Nass,C., & Wagner,A. D. (2009).Cognitive control in media multitaskers.Proceedings ofthe National Academy ofSciences ofthe United States of America,106(37) Aguilar-Roca,N.M., Williams,A. E., & O'Dowd,D. K. (2012).The impactof laptop-free zones on studentperformance and attitudes in large lectures.Computers & Education,59 (4) Fried,C. B. (2008).In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning.Computers & Education,50(3), Junco,R., & Cotten,S. R. (2012).No A 4 U: The relationship between multitasking and academic performance.Computers & Education,59(2),505-514. Lee,Y., & Wu, J. (2012).The effect of individual differences in the inner and outer states of ICT on engagementin online reading activities and PISA 2009 reading literacy:Exploringthe relationship between the old and new readingliteracy.Learning and Individual Differences,22 (3)Judd,T., & Kennedy,G.(2011).Measurementand evidence of computer-based task switching andmultitasking by ‘Netgeneration’ students.Computers & Education,56 (3), Brasel,S. A., & Gips,J. (2011).Media multitasking behavior: Concurrenttelevision and computer usage.Cyberpsychology, Behavior,and Social Networking,14(9). Yeykelis,L., Cummings,J.J., & Reeves,B. (2014).Multitasking on a single device:Arousal andthe frequency,anticipation,and prediction ofswitching between media contenton a computer. Journal ofCommunication Sana,F., Weston,T., & Cepeda,N.J. (2013).Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers. Computers & Education,62. Rubinstein,J.S., Meyer,D. E., & Evans,J. E. (2001).Executive control ofcognitive processes in task switching.Journal of Experimental Psychology:Human Perceptionand Performance, 27(4) Wood,E., Zivcakova,L.,Gentile,P., Archer,K., De Pasquale,D.,& Nosko,A. (2012).Examining the impactofoff-task multi-tasking with technology on real-time classroom learning.Computers & Education,58(1).
  96. 96. the evidence is very consistent Heavy media multitaskers (especialy younger people) have lower grades, less self-regulation, lower motivation levels, and lowered learning
  97. 97. So is this just something that only those young kids are doing?
  98. 98. NOPE
  99. 99. Howfrequently will thispersonswitch herattention between devices?
  100. 100. About every 2to 5 seconds Attention lengths of 5 seconds for laptop, and 2 seconds for TV
  101. 101. Multi-tasking ononedevice? Taskswitch happensaboutevery 19seconds
  102. 102. Are we aware of how frequently we task switch?
  103. 103. NOPE
  104. 104. Testsubjectsunderestimated theirattentionswitchesby 88%
  105. 105. In An overviewoftheevidence researchers concluded that availability and usage of ICT in classrooms had a direct and negative impact on literacy , knowledge, grades , and creativity (even after controlling for other factors)
  106. 106. 4SELECTIVITY
  107. 107. Selectivityrefersto users choosing/selecting whattheyread/view.
  108. 108. Whatcould bewrong with thefreedom to choose… your reading material?
  109. 109. From Socrates to the present-day, it has longbeen believed thatmore knowledgeablepeopleresultsin better citizens.
  110. 110. The web appears to bea technology thatmakes moreknowledge availableto morepeople.
  111. 111. In this case, ourintuitions about technology can ledus astray.
  112. 112. Just because a technology is designed to improve task X, itdoesn’t mean itis often successful in doing so.
  113. 113. In fact, it is a well known phenomenonthat some technologies over time actually decrease the performance of task X.
  114. 114. These areknown as Revenge Effects
  115. 115. Relevance?
  116. 116. Onlinereaders aresignificantly moreselective (they can moreeasily skip/hide content) than paper readers.
  117. 117. Excessive selectivity is associated with a variety of negative outcomes:
  118. 118. And … Decreasednews awareness Decreasedpolitical knowledge and participation
  119. 119. Decreaseddiversityofopinionand higherpoliticalpolarization
  120. 120. Onlineselectivity is also narrowing scholarship
  121. 121. “Collectively, the models presented illustrate that as journal archives came online … citations became more concentrated within fewer articles.” “by enabling scientists to quickly reach and converge with prevailing opinion, electronic journals hasten scientific consensus” James A Evans, “Electronic Publication andthe Narrowing of Science and Scholarship,”Science321 (July 18, 2008)
  122. 122. WHYis this happening?
  123. 123. Power LawDistribution rules the web (and more) http://www.congo-education.net/wealth-of-networks/figure-7-4.gif
  124. 124. http://www.hitwise.com/datacenter/main/dashboard-10133.html
  125. 125. Whether youlookat the webas a whole oranysubsectionwithin it(blogs, political sites,sportssites,etc) yousee powerlaw distributions.
  126. 126. This doesn’t fitthe hype ofthe web asa radically de-centralizing force.
  127. 127. The introduction of cheaper rotary printing presses (in 19th century) was initially a centrifugal force … But over time, they (along with other agents) acted as a centripetal force and centralized print into a few major newspapers and book presses. in that there was a flowering of many new print sources (penny presses, community papers, union leaflets, etc). That is, a power law distribution developed.
  128. 128. pleaseis this almost over?
  129. 129. ALMOST!
  130. 130. In allthese cases the expected social impacts of a technology ended up being wildly wrong because either theprognosticators believed in a naïve technological determinism
  131. 131. or Because the prognosticators Used simplistic future models Based on thetechnology’s Functional capabilities
  132. 132. The first step Then we should take when Thinking about social consequences Of technology is to remember how rarely technologies achieve their promise, and indeed, how manydo theopposite OR THE UNEXPECTED.
  133. 133. “It was easy to predict the inventionof the automobile; what was hard was topredict the traffic jam, or the automobile’s effect on teenagesexuality.” -- ISAAC ASIMOV
  134. 134. The SECOND STEP IS TO RECOGNIZE THAT TECHNOLOGIES DO HAVE ANEFFECT ON PEOPLE AND SOCIETY. MOMENTUM EXISTS … UNFORTUNATELY, THE PATH TAKEN BY A TECHNOLOGY IS OFTEN NOT THE ONE INTENDED, OR ONE THAT IS EASILY UNDERSTOOD.
  135. 135. The third step Is not relying on anecdotal evidence, marketing hype, or hasty web-based journalism When looking for evidence about social effects oftechnologies.
  136. 136. Ways need to be explored of stimulating vigorous on-going public debate about digital technology –allowing current ‘common-sense’ understandings of digital disruptions to be challenged, contested, problematized and de- reified.
  137. 137. Similarly, there is clearly scope for the more rigorous and far-reaching problematizing of digital disruption discourse from within the academic community – engaging in discussions and debates that move beyond the ‘celebratory vagueness’ of much scholarly work on digital media.
  138. 138. THANK YOU

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