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There's a context that I am looking at this in, but feel free to impose your own:

Certain Ancient Greek thinkers were very averse to the introduction and success of the written word, and feared its innovation inhibiting the development of one's mind, and usurping the oral tradition. The latter was certainly true, but the former is harder to vouch for, though thinking certainly took on a different form.
Now here we are in the present day. I am personally pretty averse to the certain things happening on the forefront of the digital age; namely smart phones providing internet access all the time and most anywhere, and youtube videos and wikipedia usurping books and the printed word for information, edification, and especially entertainment. And more changes when we get into social media and all that.
This is by no means an original thought: the smart phone revolution is much the same as what was happening with the printed word. I just don't know how to think about it. I feel strongly that the printed written word and the artistic and informative forms that make use of it, that require a good deal more sustained attention, are much better for our mental consumption than reading tid bits of news, blog posts, ect. I am sad to hear talk of books dying out, but am gratified to think that there will always be a niche for them, much like there is still a niche oral tradition and memory experts who prefer not to rely on jotting things down or inputing things in their phones. Any thoughts?
 

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Here are my thoughts on the matter.

I don't like Facebook.
I don't like Twitter.
I don't like Instagram.
I do like Slipped Disc.
I do like Talkclassical forum.
I do LOVE my smartphone for music and Google Music.

Social media is wonderful. I just don't enjoy tweeting ever about my private life in real life. I am a relatively boring person honestly so why do I need to advertise that to the world?
 

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I seem to be a bit addicted to social media. at least where Facebook and twitter are concerned. And I most definitely YouTube documentaries as I love watching them. But I will vouch for the fact that being able to have an actual conversation is a dying art form. Social media is definitely bringing about an age of isolation and introversion. I personally prefer having face to face conversations, and when that is not possible I much prefer talking on the phone as opposed to texting or instant messaging. I think the internet has a lot of potential to teach people thing and is a great resource for information. But I will always prefer a good book. There's something to be said for the tangibility of books.
 

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Printed books allowed the rapid spread of knowledge. We were no longer limited to the speed at which a manuscript could be copied and cost of books rapidly came down.

The Greeks had some funny ideas - somebody got drowned for pointing out that the diagonal of a unit square cannot be expressed as the dividend of two integers.

Even so academics are worried about the ability of ordinary people to comprehend difficult texts and to get the wrong end of the stick particularly in religious matters.

The main point is that the web is good at "facts" but poor at knowledge. IT specialists define information as data in context. Unless you have some background, you won't be able to make sense of the facts. That's why books are good because they provide a context for the facts. Books won't die out in the sense of long texts but they may change. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, what about a video? Think simple car maintenance from a book compared to watching an instructional video - or assembling a flat pack piece of furniture.

This sort of procedural knowledge - knowledge how to - can often best be conveyed by a picture or a video. This is the sort of thing an apprentice learns from a craftsman. Declarative knowledge - knowledge about things and the relation between facts is basically a matter of acquiring a context - usually by study and by reading widely around in a domain of knowledge.

Social Media seem a contradiction in terms. They fail to provide a supportive society and act as a sort of "lord of the Flies" environment. They are good for separated families who can share experiences, history and family knowledge but anybody who has run into teenagers on facebook knows the depths to which they sink.
 

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I don't yet have a smart phone :eek: I think it is a great advantage to be able to access the web from anywhere, but I would not want to be hooked to it 24/7. To look something up, naturally, but to be tied to the device and not be able to set foot outside the house without needing to broadcast to the world one's every step and thought is beyond ridiculous... or, rather, it's both ridiculous and narcissistic. I'd like to be able to look at a map or a review of an album I spot at a used record store, perhaps contact someone to confirm an appointment, etc., but if we chat all day long, why bother getting together? You'd never manage to accomplish anything, chatting all day long. You couldn't even complete an extended thought without needing to send or receive a text. I think the result is superficiality.

I'm not a fan of social media. I don't find there to be much point in pointless babble with people one doesn't even know. I suppose one could say the same of this site :lol: but I like to keep on topic. I find it particularly disconcerting that the social media sites and search machines archive all of this ill-considered babble for posterity. The services are provided for free and people don't realize what they are giving up when they use them (how they pay for the services they receive, ostensibly for free). There are some advantages, like reading product reviews, but there are also disadvantages, too, as every retailer, manufacturer and provider of services wants you to spend your time talking about how great your experience was. I used to try to write reviews on Amazon, on the teas I bought from a shop in China, and other products and services, but I found it to be so time-consuming that I had to cut back. On the one hand, one wishes to provide this service to others as a helpful gesture, but it is hugely invasive and requires a lot of commitment. You are providing free advertising to companies. It's a huge time waster.
 

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And, regarding the printed word: I prefer it over videos when I want the facts quickly. I certainly enjoy the great documentaries that one can find on YT, when I've got an hour to really get into something, but I have noticed the trend on online news sites to post videos instead of writing articles. Honestly, that bugs me. Even a 2-3 minute video is too much. I can scan a full page article and see whether I need any of that information very quickly and I don't want to spend the time to watch a video just to find out that the article is not very deep or isn't telling me much that's worth my time.
 

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The one thing I love about the smartphone is the ability to read our forum here without any issues. Of course with LTE speeds everything loads up nicely in fact including videos too.

Too bad battery life isn't great on the Android phones yet.
 

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I remember watching Star Trek in the 80's, Captain Picard would hold a Kindle in his ready room and read a book, and I thought, how silly that they try to be futuristic in everything. It's a good touch, but that one is far-fetched. Well...

I think the book will eventually be gone, or become rare, but this won't happen in this generation, or the next. There maybe global turmoil that slows the spread of tech things, and books hang in there. Hard copy is still essential, you know? But I can see a day in that Star Trek future, the next couple of hundred years, where books are more or less antiques.

As for social media, I do facebook, but don't understand Twitter. I don't do much on Facebook, more on what's app. And it has its advantages - the people I'm in touch with are all abroad - but of course, the disadvantages, too. Letters are completely gone, and I used to love sending/receiving letters. Also, hand up if you're like me:

You lift a book to read and have hardly gotten to the bottom of the page and you go check your phone, check this site, check messages...
 

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I am ambivalent.

On the one hand, I have contacted ten old schoolfriends via the internet - my Facebook is a wonderful repository for family photos and memories - I have someone to confide my troubles to, which is very relevant if it's a worry about Taggart, so I can't talk to him - TalkClassical has given me friends to talk to and a place where I can learn but also relax & crack jokes - YouTube introduces me to new music, and helps me with versions of my fiddle practice pieces - Amazon has given us a way to find out about new sheet music - and Wikipedia has given me a quick way of finding out about anything that pops into my head.

On the other hand, I have phases where I am addicted - I waste lots of time that could be better used on doing housework, fiddle practice, reading, or going out - I sleep poorly, and get into mini-argy-bargy with other posters that disturbs my mind - I spend too much money on things I don't really need - I have put on a few pounds and am less healthy because I've become more sedentary - and I am 'letting time pass' rather than 'living' a lot of the time.

I will always love books best, because the way I read is to hear the sound of the words in my head - I'm a slow reader, but I'm in love with words and was lucky enough to have a phenomenal memory for everything I've ever read, though it's starting to fade now.

With a book, I live in a mystical world beyond time.

But I still love the Internet, and I just hope that somehow I can develop the self-discipline to make it a servant rather than a master.
 

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I just hope that somehow I can develop the self-discipline to make it a servant rather than a master.
That's it, in a nutshell. And the internet is escalating its charms abundantly while we're still thinking it's useful for info and dipping into. I'm fortunate that I never got into video games, my biggest vice in that area is to play a Sudoku once a week on the phone, if that, but gaming is a huge industry that's turning people into anti-social monsters, in some cases. It's re-wiring our brains. It's isolating people from their natural community and changing them into anonymous nick-named unfamiliars in a virtual community, one where consequences and responsibilities are alien concepts.

I suppose the problem is that these things are made so attractive, like the best TV. The other day I met my cousin from Canada and her four kids. The youngsters said hello, then retreated immediately into thumbing their machine, sulking over soft drinks and games they couldn't be roused to describe to me...
 

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That's it, in a nutshell. And the internet is escalating its charms abundantly while we're still thinking it's useful for info and dipping into. I'm fortunate that I never got into video games, my biggest vice in that area is to play a Sudoku once a week on the phone, if that, but gaming is a huge industry that's turning people into anti-social monsters, in some cases. It's re-wiring our brains. It's isolating people from their natural community and changing them into anonymous nick-named unfamiliars in a virtual community, one where consequences and responsibilities are alien concepts.

I suppose the problem is that these things are made so attractive, like the best TV. The other day I met my cousin from Canada and her four kids. The youngsters said hello, then retreated immediately into thumbing their machine, sulking over soft drinks and games they couldn't be roused to describe to me...
It is only a stereotype that video games make people anti-social. They don't in fact... in fact MMO's like World of Warcraft help people socialize and let people learn the nature of cooperation.

It's dehumanization and mass media that make people anti-social. Watching the news alone makes me not want to talk to people often.
 

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I care little for social media but the discussion seems to have drifted to include the internet/electronics in general. So I will say:

MIT opencourseware is truly a blessing. I'm going through its Single + multivariable calculus courses. Being a very visual learner, I can say that the videos and online courses are infinitely more helpful then simply going through the textbook that I have (Multivariable Calc by James Stewart). Not to mention "free".

The digitization of books will do wonders for education.I used to go bi-weekly to the library, now I can literally take the library with me, wherever I go. With a couple dozen gigs in the tablet, is what? 10 000 ebooks or something?

You get to pick and choose also. Local libraries tend to stick to "popular" books.
Heck, if you go to school, you don't even need to go through the excruciating ritual of taking notes in classes anymore. It's all online.

Someone that is properly motivated has much more resources at his disposal then 10 or 20 years ago.

Facebook is gay.

brotagonist said:
The services are provided for free and people don't realize what they are giving up when they use them (how they pay for the services they receive, ostensibly for free). There are some advantages, like reading product reviews, but there are also disadvantages, too, as every retailer, manufacturer and provider of services wants you to spend your time talking about how great your experience was.
Of course TANSTAAFL.

But at least the Web gives you choice in which ways to pay. You don't even need to be a reviewer. I pretty much never review anything on the internet.

Kieran said:
It's isolating people from their natural community and changing them into anonymous nick-named unfamiliars in a virtual community, one where consequences and responsibilities are alien concepts.
It's much better that way at least from an intellectual POV.

Having some form of anonymity is more conducive to honesty, because then only the points brought forward matter. So far I have not found a parallel to it offline.

There are ways to wiggle out of it, but they are much more numerous in the real world.

In the real world, people are really really uptight. They rarely if ever say what they really think because it always has social (and sometimes professional) repercussions.
 
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I am far more concerned about so many school districts in North America dropping the teaching of cursive writing. THAT is a disaster waiting to happen.
 

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I like Facebook and Twitter and I also find them very useful. When I'm travelling I access the train company's/airline's social media accounts and get up-to-date information. If I have a query, I can get a quick response. Twitter can be entertaining. Whoever is 'on duty' usually tweets "This is [name] at your service for {name} Trains. Any questions for me? What are you doing today?" That sort of thing. One day I replied I was on my way to London to see an opera. The train company twitter guy responded almost immediately, probably shocked! Anyway we had a very interesting conversation about opera. I told him about 'box sets', libretti, surtitles etc etc and assured him he did not have to dress up. I like to think I had a convert.

My golden rule with social media and forums like this is that I never say anything which I wouldn't say in public to someone's face.
 

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Twitter first concept actually is a "micro-blogging". Several years ago, smartphone wasn't hi tech enough to carry all the data / kilobytes needed to run Facebook, Blogspot or Frienster ( anyone remember this?). So, Twitter is simple version of those, using only dozen of letters and succeed in this way. Today when smartphone advance , the concept of "word efficiency" in twitter actually can be wipe out. But they choose to carry on and target as "flash-news" of media social. Usually they are the fastest in news spread.
 
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