Bill Kirkpatrick, Assistant Professor of Communication, delivered a lecture in early February at The Works, a museum of science and technology in Newark, Ohio.
Addressing the debate over whether the internet is having a negative impact on our cognition and social relationships, Bill argued that such fears are best seen in the context of a long history of panics over new communication technology going 2500 years. “In 370 B.C.,” he pointed out, “Socrates was complaining about writing, fearing that it would produce a kind of false learning that is antithetical to true knowledge.” Similar panics recurred with the printing press, telegraph, typewriter, radio, and television. “We need to treat these dystopian reactions to new technologies with a healthy degree of suspicion.” Kirkpatrick then pointed out some of the ways that the internet is making us smarter, including new forms of collaborative knowledge and collective action.
The lecture also illustrated the ways that professors and students work together, since he wrote his talk with the research assistance of Allie Breschi ’14. Breschi is a Communication Department fellow, students who assist professors with teaching and scholarship. She did a lot of the initial investigation that became the basis for Kirkpatrick’s key arguments.