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Reflection #1: “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure”

Throughout the course of his 2009 editorial, “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure,” and his speech from the same year, “No Digital Facelifts,” Gardner Campbell provides an argument about the importance of technology in modern times, especially in college campuses. The main argument he carries throughout both statements is that technology is constantly changing, and that for all of the progress put into its long-term effectiveness, humanity‚Äôs not yet begun to comprehend just how to see these consistent upgrades as anything but another trend of the moment. I say this because, as the opening minutes of Campbell’s speech pointed out:

“We are living in the middle of the largest increase in expressive capability in the history of the human race. I think that’s true, except I think, probably, we’re at the beginning, and not the middle.”

To make a long story short, the most inconvenient problem we’ve yet to deal with, regarding the Internet’s current growth period, is all of the wasted potential that stems from it, and this is especially true in academic fields. The reasons why this is the case can range from the inability to provide new means of teaching important lessons where old methods fail, to the perception of the teachers feeling left out, should the class essentially take a self-taught approach to their education. The truth is that technology matters now more than ever, and those who want to avoid getting left behind need to have a basic knowledge of social media etiquette in order to make sense of the world around them. It’s something that I overlooked, more than once, before signing up for DS106 earlier this year. Even now, I’m still trying to get the hang of everything, knowing that I might end up failing at more things than succeeding. That’s why I’m taking Digital Storytelling this semester: If nothing else happens when this class lets out, I want to, at the very least, hold my head high, having proved myself wrong.

It’s in his editorial when Campbell takes his place as the “Father of Digital Storytelling.” I call him that because of how much of his worldview is reflected in how this class is run. According to Campbell, college students like me could use social media to narrate, curate, and share lessons with other students. The DS106 class of today has participants provide step-by-step instructions to each other, on how to create Vimeo and YouTube videos, audio footage for SoundCloud, and pictures for Flickr. They’re also given ample time to properly cultivate and organize their thoughts in a manner that suits them, individually, before publishing and, ultimately, sharing the final product with the Internet at large, hopefully providing some of their own useful advice to others along the way.

Overall, I can see why Gardner Campbell was so adamant about using technology to help the young adults of the world be more inclined to use it to better their lives, as well as those of others. Both the editorial and speech showcase his profound beliefs in a way that people like me, who are just starting to reap the fruits of our own virtual labor, are beginning to understand in full. Campbell’s words show me that I have the potential to do great things in my life, and inspire others to do the same. All I have to do is put my mind to it, and the latest technology ensures that it will be put to good use. In the end, while it is true that having an innate fear of the unknown is both a part of human nature, and a fact of life, the same thing can be said about curiosity. For all the opportunities that now exist thanks to social media and the Internet, the time has come for mankind to stop taking these advances for granted, and start mapping out the new frontiers that lie ahead of us. Campbell knew it then, I know it now, and I think the rest of the class can say the same.

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