Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Research Journal - The heart of the matter

I'm studying the impact of wireless internet on NPDA debate. Why? Because I believe in order to tell the story of how debaters use technology, and more importantly make the knowledge useful we need to understand the impact of that technology. Why do these tools matter? How does is this medium the message?

Over the last ten years debate like much of our world has become wired. We no longer experience the net as a world wide network of computer, but as a social network of thousand devices networked together. More and more computers are used to mine this network for context and intelligence, and less to access it. Technologies like twitter, and youtube make revolutions possible. At the heart though, it is the wired personal computer that still has the most impact. You can record a video on your Android phone, you can even edit it on some of them, but the interface is still in it's infancy. When you need to multitask and do detailed research laptops are still king. These are thoughts that impact my follow up research, the real question still remains what impact does information technology have on NPDA debate?

The importance of this questions came up the other day when I was discussing development with my adviser. We were discussing Africa, and I mentioned the context of a presentation I had seen at InfoCamp, as we chatted a strange doubt grew in my mind. How do we know that information technology matters in development? My advisers answer was to refer me to a book that addressed just that question. What I realized that these sorts of questions mattered because they address a fundamental issue of scope and impact. When I later turn my eyes towards how NPDA debaters use their resources, I will have context to help me understand the overall meaning of their actions and choices.

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