Bauerlein–Arguments on Digital Writing, To Be Continued

The resource I would like to contribute to our class is a site of blog articles by Mark Bauerlein. To provide some useful background information, Bauerlein is the author of book The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future untitledand later he edited book the Digital Divide: Arguments for and against Facebook, Google, Texting and the Age of Social. His blog articles concerns the teaching of English,  topics ranging from why majoring in English, difficulty of recruiting students for Humanities, the destruction of English Language, digital divide, Googlization, so on and so forth. Mark himself is the Director of the Office of Research and Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts, the professor of English at Emory University and a periodical writer for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Chronicle of Higher Education.hqdefault

The point I particularly interested in arguing is concerning the purpose of Bauerlein’s published books, the Digital Divide: Arguments for and against Facebook, Google, Texting and the Age of Social Networking that we mentioned in the beginning. I do not completely agree with what Author Jason Jones stated that The Digital Divide functions mostly as an “assembly” of essays by intellectuals, and is best suited for ” anyone who are looking for an orientation about web writing, computing and digital culture.” Jason said people shall spare the money from purchasing Bauerlein’s book, because people can always download these contributed articles contributed to the book online.phobia

Have read the book myself to gain a sense of digital culture’s potential and challenges for our course, I consider Bauerlein’s focus on The Digital Divide is not focusing on “assembling” articles on a common theme, but on “arguments for and against” digital writing and social media. As an editor, he retreated himself from the debate of for or against but used the book to debute supporters and protesters from the canvas of past 15 years to join a conversation about how the web has and will continue to affect society and learning. To me, The Digital Divide is almost a mini-history that offers readers a series of analytical arguments about digital technology and social networking. It delivers to the public like us so that we can read what the most trenchant voices have said on both sides of the issues. Bauerlein acted as the director, who pulls together the intellectuals on two sides to debate. The reason for him to withdraw from the debate is that he intended to come off with balanced volume to present to the readers.

In The Dumbest Generation, BimagesCALPTIKEauerlein already expressed his personal standpoint, which is strongly against digital technology in hands of the young and leisure lives:

We have entered the Information Age, traveled the Information Superhighway, spawned a Knowledge Economy, undergone the Digital Revolution, converted manual workers into knowledge workers, & promoted a Creative Class, and we anticipate a Conceptual Age to be.” (8) However, “while the world has provided them extraordinary chances to gain knowledge & improve their reading/ writing skills, not to mention offering financial incentives to do so, young Americans today are no more learned or skillful than their predecessors, no more knowledgeable, fluent, up-to-date, or inquisitive, except in the materials of youth culture. They don’t know any more history or civics, economics or science, literature or current events. They read less on their own. . . [and] in fact, their technology skills fall well short of the common claim, too, especially when they must apply them to research & workplace skills.” (8)

Yet intellectuals who those who criticized his previous book The Dumbest Generation, such as Clay Shirky, Jakob Nielsen, and Cathy Davidson, contributed their essay to The Digital Divide as the opposite side of the argument (that digital age benefits people) which itself opened up an important questionhow to deal with people who have he raised up the question, how to deal with people who have different opinions than yours on one subject. This is what respect about Bauerlein’s philosophy behind this book, that he did not refuse to acknowledge critics but very well aware it is an open discussion, that anyone who assumes he or she has the final say on a radical topic such as the digital age and social media is arrogant and an attempt to close off the discussion. What I interpreted from reading his introduction is that he wants to stretch the meaning and advance the debate, therefore readers will be provided with more latitude in understanding of what digital age means, and come to their own conclusion during the learning.

Our course Writing in a Digital Age opened a door for further research on how information will be organized and used, and how students desire to attain instruction and how teachers can better  deliver new information to a group of students who think and behave in ways that have been altered by social media and digital technology.




One thought on “Bauerlein–Arguments on Digital Writing, To Be Continued”

  1. Bel,

    I’m glad you found your way from Bauerlein to Carr. You’ve been doing a lot of reading! What most strikes me, as I follow your links is, well, Bauerlein is a smug fellow, isn’t he?


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