"The Conversation is an independent source of analysis, commentary and news from the university and research sector - written by acknowledged experts and delivered directly to the public. Our team of professional editors work with more than 3,900 registered academics and researchers to make this wealth of knowledge and expertise accessible to all.
We aim to be a site you can trust. All published work will carry attribution of the authors' expertise and, where appropriate, will disclose any potential conflicts of interest, and sources of funding. Where errors or misrepresentations occur, we will correct these promptly.
Sincere thanks go to our Founding Partners who gave initial funding support: CSIRO, Monash University, University of Melbourne, University of Technology Sydney and University of Western Australia.
Our initial content partners include those institutions, Strategic Partner RMIT University and a growing list of member institutions. More than 180 institutions contribute content, including Australia's research-intensive, Group of Eight universities.
We are based in Melbourne, Australia, and wholly owned by The Conversation Media Trust, a not-for-profit company."
(The Conversation Media Trust)
Fig.1 Nobel Laureate and former Australian of the Year Peter Doherty, supports The Conversation.
"Screen culture is a world of constant flux, of endless sound bites, quick cuts and half-baked ideas. It is a flow of gossip tidbits, news headlines and floating first impressions. Notions don't stand alone but are massively interlinked to everything else; truth is not delivered by authors and authorities but is assembled by the audience. Screen culture is fast, like a 30-sec. movie trailer, and as liquid and open-ended as a website. ...
On a screen, words move, meld into pictures, change color and perhaps even meaning. Sometimes there are no words at all, only pictures or diagrams or glyphs that may be deciphered into multiple meanings. This is terribly unnerving to any civilization based on text logic."
(Kevin Kelly, 19 June 2000, "Will We Still Turn Pages", Time Magazine)
Fig.1 JasKaitlin "hypermediacy" taken on April 25, 2010 using an Apple iPhone 3GS [http://www.flickr.com/photos/64776338@N07/5996281055/].
Baroness Susan Greenfield "told the House of Lords that children's experiences on social networking sites 'are devoid of cohesive narrative and long-term significance. As a consequence, the mid-21st century mind might almost be infantilised, characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity'.
Arguing that social network sites are putting attention span in jeopardy, she said: 'If the young brain is exposed from the outset to a world of fast action and reaction, of instant new screen images flashing up with the press of a key, such rapid interchange might accustom the brain to operate over such timescales. Perhaps when in the real world such responses are not immediately forthcoming, we will see such behaviours and call them attention-deficit disorder. ...
She also warned against 'a much more marked preference for the here-and-now, where the immediacy of an experience trumps any regard for the consequences. After all, whenever you play a computer game, you can always just play it again; everything you do is reversible. The emphasis is on the thrill of the moment, the buzz of rescuing the princess in the game. No care is given for the princess herself, for the content or for any long-term significance, because there is none."
(Patrick Wintour, political editor guardian.co.uk, 24 February 2009)
2) Leading neuroscientist Lady Greenfield on the impact of spending hours in front of the computer and what makes a friend.
"There is considerable irony in this for multimedia. We have struggled technically to be able to deliver the full screen narrative form that TV so clearly represents - one hour of full screen full motion video has been a multimedia holy grail for so long! - and yet just as we appear to be able to deliver it, we find that what learners seek is something else anyway. They need a browsing, grazing environment where learner autonomy is fundamental, where the model of information represented is crucial to that browsing function, where metaphor and interface design are of primary importance and where sound bites, video snatches, auditory icons and text labels offer a complex and participatory environment that challenges the learner and recognises their increasing sophistication as information handlers and creators. Our normal information lives have changed without us noticing and the implications for multimedia and learning are complex and significant. The many publishers seeking to provide electronic books and narrative CDs are seeking to generate product that is a generation too late, as the age profile of buyers clearly indicates."
(Stephen Heppell, BBC 1995)
[Heppell accurately foretold the shift towards more open-ended organisational forms but in doing so failed to recognise the risk for learners of having too much choice. While the agency learners is increased through their autonomy to browse and graze etc. this is only the case when they possess recognition rules (Bernstein 2000, p.105-106) which allow them to construct meaningful discovery narratives.]
"Before the Internet, most professional occupations required a large body of knowledge, accumulated over years or even decades of experience. But now, anyone with good critical thinking skills and the ability to focus on the important information can retrieve it on demand from the Internet, rather than her own memory. On the other hand, those with wandering minds, who might once have been able to focus by isolating themselves with their work, now often cannot work without the Internet, which simultaneously furnishes a panoply of unrelated information - whether about their friends' doings, celebrity news, limericks, or millions of other sources of distraction. The bottom line is that how well an employee can focus might now be more important than how knowledgeable he is. Knowledge was once an internal property of a person, and focus on the task at hand could be imposed externally, but with the Internet, knowledge can be supplied externally, but focus must be forced internally."
David Dalrymple, 'Knowledge Is Out, Focus Is In, and People Are Everywhere,' Edge, http://www.edge.org/q2010/q10_16.html#dalrymple