Common Sense Is Being Replaced By Digital Technologies


common sense media digital citizenship

In the early 1990’s, the term “Digital Citizenship” was first coined. The goal of this new concept is to teach children about their impact on the information system, and how they can work to improve it. As we continue to move into the Information Age, the importance of Digital Citizenship is growing more important. We need to develop an educational system that values Digital Citizenship in all aspects of our educational system.

What exactly is Digital Citizenship? Digital Citizenship refers to use the common sense necessary to be successful in a digital society. It also refers to the value of being connected to the World Wide Web. Many people are familiar with the “common sense” part of this statement. For example: if you walk into a store to shop, or a pod of gumball falls out of your purse, you “see” the common sense of not stealing it or leaving it for others to find.

Some Facts To Know

A camera on a table

Some of us have more than a “common sense” view of the world. We know intuitively that if we are to access what is available to us on the Internet, we must first “wire” our computer so that it can accept various types of media. That’s what allows us to use digital equipment like modems, webcams, and USB sticks. If we do not have these tools at our disposal, we would have to learn these things as we go along – which could be a very slow and frustrating process. Also, if we were in a remote location without any Internet access, we would have to rely on a phone line, which is another common sense decision as well. We could make some calls, but there were limits to the type of calls that we could make (records were probably destroyed and private communications were off the table as well).

However, the “digital” aspect of this equation is not nearly as obvious as the “common sense” part. In order to “wire” our computer to accept media for digital access, we had to get what are known as “modem cards”. These cards are essentially little mini-cards with pre-programmed interfaces to allow the plug in of almost any sort of digital input. This means that anyone with a PC and a web browser can plug in their favorite MP3 player, their proprietary format of digital camera video, or their home gaming systems, all without the need for specialized hardware. In fact, it is not even necessary to have a computer to access the Internet anymore – you can actually “wire” your computer to your home wireless router and access the Internet wirelessly (with your own wireless router, of course).

Impact Of Digital Technologies On Us

A person wearing a hat

With the advent of digital information and the common sense that go along with it, the ability to “wire” the computer has given birth to an entirely new concept of citizenship. In the new digital millennium, those who are willing to “wire” the computer is not just citizens, they are Techno-savvy computer users. They are avid travelers on the Internet; they are not limited to the country they live in, but rather can take part in worldwide events and cultures. It is no longer strange to find an American living in Japan or an Australian living in Brisbane – they have both computers and Internet connections, and both are able to participate fully in the dynamics of their respective countries. It is not uncommon to meet and work with individuals who speak different languages, or who are native members of various nations and cultures.

Perhaps one of the most influential proponents of the idea of digital technologies as a vehicle for the common good is the late William Hewlett. A technologist and entrepreneur who co-invented the PXD (point of sale display) computer display, Hewlett envisioned a world where people could be empowered through their computers to participate in the economic, political, social, and cultural arenas of their selected nations. Through this new medium, they would be able to bypass the often restrictive media controls that govern our common sense and be able to access news, information and culture in their own languages, for free, all from wherever they chose to. His vision of a common standard has blossomed into a powerful global organization, the Electronic Liberty Foundation.

As digital technologies advance, and become integrated into the lives of more individuals around the world, the concept of common sense will increasingly play a lesser role in societal dynamics. People will begin to rely less on newspapers, television and radio for their news, and more on blogs, social networks, podcasts and video sharing. In the end, it is unlikely that there will be any significant change in the way that citizens perceive a common cause, a common problem, a common law, a common government or an eminent common figure, when these sources of common knowledge are replaced by ever-changing digital technologies.

Bottom Line

The battle between digital technology and common sense is ongoing. Both need to win, if for no other reason than the continued maintenance of the freedoms upon which our civilization was founded. It would be a shame if common sense were to lose its prominent place in society during such a time when it is most needed. Digital technologies may continue to innovate and challenge, but at the end of the day they must always retain some of the privacy and security that have made them one of the best inventions of the digital age.

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