Daily Archives: March 6, 2012

‘Hyper-connectivity’ among adults sends mixed message

David Macias has five personal electronic devices: a laptop, smart phone, e-reader and not one but two iPods  one for his car; one for workouts at the gym.

“I have trouble sleeping sometimes,” the 19-year-old college freshman said while taking a break from watching a movie on his laptop in the College Of DuPage cafeteria.

Macias said he sleeps with his cellphone, which wakes him when he receives a text.

“It’s crazy,” said Macias of Aurora, Ill. “I’ve got to turn it off.”

Macias and others his age and younger are a growing concern because of their “hyper-connectivity.”

The word describes the constant connection to electronic devices as practiced by many of the so-called millennials, the generation born from 1981 to 2000 who came of age in the new millennium.

But a Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday shows that 55 percent of Internet experts and scholars believe that electronically connected youth “will be nimble analysts and decision makers” who benefit from the practice.

Slightly more than 40 percent of those same experts had the opposite perception, contending that hyper-connected young people cannot retain information, are too distracted, and lack “deep-thinking capabilities” and “face-to-face social skills.”

Of course, both sides are hedging their predictions, saying that a combination of the scenarios is a more likely outcome.

Which is how Macias sees it.

“It could be positive because life becomes easier,” Macias said, “but negative because it makes you do less work.”

The survey, taken Aug. 28 through Oct. 31, asked 1,021 “technology stakeholders and critics” to chose one of two scenarios for the year 2020  generally positive or generally negative outcomes from hyperconnectivity.

Respondents were asked to explain their choices.

Some of the highlights:

Optimists say data will be retrieved almost effortlessly for young and old.

Pessimists argue that entertainment will trump knowledge and education; that the “compulsive nature of modern media” is similar to substance addiction.

Optimists contend that widespread connectivity has produced “supertaskers” capable of handling several complicated tasks well.

Pessimists believe that multi-tasking actually decreases productivity and that “shallow choices,” impatience, sleep deprivation and “stagnation in innovation” could be common outcomes of a hyper-connected future.

“Each side is right to a certain extent,” said co-author Janna Quitney Anderson, an associate professor of communications and director of the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University in Elon, N.C.

“We hope that the optimists end up being more right than the pessimists.”

Suze Weinstein would count herself among the optimists.

Weinstein, 23, from Naperville, Ill., owns a smart phone, e-reader, laptop and iPod.

She had a second iPod until it was stolen. At home, she exercises with the direction of her Apple Wii and plays video games on an Xbox.

“I’m a big believer,” Weinstein said before entering class at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Ill, where she’s studying in the medical assistant program. “I’m connected all the time.”

Weinstein estimated that 60 percent of her connected time is spent texting or talking on the cell phone to communicate with employees one of her three jobs is manager of a jewelry store friends or family.

Another 30 percent of her time is spent on Facebook and Twitter, again mostly related to her jobs, she said.

And 10 percent of her time on electronic devices is “personal, chit-chatting with friends,” or shopping online, Weinstein added.

Her electronic connections help her keep up with old friends, said Weinstein, who has moved eight times.

Whether it’s good for the brain “depends on how long you’re staring at the computer,” Weinstein said. “If you’re playing 6 hours of video games, that’s ridiculous.”

Children definitely can benefit from electronic connectedness, said Weinstein, who is working as a nanny to 3, 4 and 5-year-old girls.

The children have access to the e-world, which has taught the three-year-old how to add, point out colors and patterns and solve problems, she said.

The child also knows her ABC’s, Weinstein said, and can speak a few words of Spanish.

For people Weinstein’s age, she said, hyperconnectivity allows them easily to access and act on news and information from across the world.

As an example, Weinstein noted how quickly vast resources arrived in Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake in 2010.

Ted Gregory
/Chicago Tribune

Guest lecturer discusses future of forests

“What’s likely happened [to] the future [of forests] with and without intervention?”

Dr. Richard B. Waring, professor emeritus of forestry at Oregon State University, addressed this question in his lecture Feb. 29 in Ice Auditorium.

The lecture was one of a series that recognizes Dr. Dirks-Edmunds, Linfield biology professor from 1941 to 1974. Dr. Dirks-Edmunds, an avant-garde ecologist of her time, brought attention to environmental issues that were greatly undermined.

She established The Jane Claire Dirks-Edmunds Endowed Scholarship Fund, which seeks to bring distinguished science-disciplinarians like Waring to speak at Linfield.

Dr. Waring has an extensive background in environmental studies; after earning his masters in forestry, he received a Ph.D. in botany from University of California, Berkeley and began his career at the Quetico-Superior Wilderness Research Center as a research assistant in 1953.

He went on to publish more than 100 peer-reviewed research papers as well as “Forest Ecosystems: Concepts and Management.”

Introduced by assistant professor of biology Chad Tillberg, Dr. Waring augmented his lecture with a slideshow that contained charts and statistics, displaying the change occurring in Western forests, partly answering the question of the future of forests.

Waring addressed the “unprecedented disturbances” on forests that appear to be related to climate change—changes that can be extreme in areas around the Midwest.

Waring described new methods that allow for forests to adapt to their quick-changing environments. He pointed out that in unique places such as Oregon, there is a lack of awareness toward the disturbances occurring in forests across the country.

“We’re talking about trees that are 100, 200 years old…they’ve seen change…and now they’re dying,” Waring said.

Despite the serious threats to forest productivity in the future, Waring did not declare the situation hopeless.

“I’m not saying we can’t do it or shouldn’t try [to preserve the forests] – but it’s going to be difficult,” Waring said in response to a student questioning his optimism on the matter.

Although Waring described the situation as “scary,” he finds hope in a liberal education stating that it provides, “The ability to see different aspects and the implications of things [which will ultimately] make a big difference.”

More information about the effect of climate change on the forests of the Pacific Northwest can be found at www.pnwspecieschange.info.

Chrissy Shane
/Staff writer
Chrissy Shane can be reached at linfieldreviewnews@gmail.com

Occupy panel provokes thoughts and motives

The Occupy movement’s aversion to formal leadership spurred a debate during a panel discussion March 1, with faculty and students sorting through the pros and cons of a protest style with such a strategy.

As media coverage dwindles, Linfield is still paying attention: the sociology and anthropology departments held an open forum led by a faculty panel to explore the thoughts and actions behind the Occupy movements.

Michael Huntsberger, assistant professor of Mass Communication, Dawn Nowacki, professor of Political Science, and Rob Gardner, assistant professor of Sociology, were the faculty panelists, along with Linfield senior Ariel Martindale.

Huntsberger discussed the Occupy movement in terms of the type of mass messages it sends, identifying the movement’s lack of a leader as one of its downfalls.

“The power of movements is often tied to the ability of an individual to gain attention from a larger audience,” Huntsberger said, using Martin Luther King Jr. as an example. “Without a small group or a leader to be the specific face of a campaign, it’s hard to articulate and communicate a clear motive and mission.”

Huntsberger also said that while the movement originally began as a protest against financial inequality, the protests evolved into critical reviews a range of other subjects, from labor unions and corporations to education.

“What started as a protest against Wall Street, became a critique on many different issues, but all those issues don’t fit comfortably under one umbrella,” he said.

Martindale said that the Occupy movement had to encompass a wide variety of issues because so many aspects of capitalism and Wall Street leak into other aspects of life.

She referenced the documentary, “Miss Representation,” a film about the role media plays in furthering gender inequality.

“Just like how capitalism influences the images put in media, other aspects of the Occupy movement can be linked together,” Martindale said. “Its one big thing that impacts everything else.”

Martindale added that the movement’s anti-hierarchical tendencies are simply an illustration of what the group is trying to regain: direct democracy.

Nowacki also addressed Huntsberger’s assertion, saying that although the Occupy movement’s non-traditional protest style was exciting because of the chance it provided for multiple voices to be heard, the result was a fragmented message that addresses an overwhelming amount of issues.

Gardner said that although the Occupy movement doesn’t have a presidential-type leader, there are still organizers for most of the groups.

“Leadership is emergent,” Gardner said. “Community leaders are taking charge of local groups. And while the lack of one leader can be viewed as a weakness, it’s also a strength, because while single leaders can be eliminated, entire groups can live on.”

Joanna Peterson
/Managing editor
Joanna Peterson can be reached at linfieldreviewmanaging@gmail.com

‘Call-to-action’ campaign gets students talking

Students and faculty called for contemporary challenge to gender stereotypes after a screening of “Miss Representation,” a documentary about media’s portrayal of women.

After the film, a panel comprised of Linfield faculty and the Yamhill County Commissioner led a discussion about practical ways to reject negative representation of women.

Dr. Nick Buccola, assistant professor of Political Science, Dr. Dawn Nowacki, professor of Political Science and Dr. Jennifer Linder, associate professor of Psychology comprised the panel, augmented by guest panelist Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Stern; the panel was moderated by Reshmie Dutt–Ballerstadt, associate professor of English and co-coordinator of the Gender Studies Program.

“[It’s a] fact that media is so derogatory to the most powerful women in the country. What does [that] say about media’s ability to take any woman in America seriously?” said Jennifer Pozner, executive director of Women in Media and News, who was featured in the documentary “Miss Representation.”

Stern stressed the importance of redefining the role of women in all areas of life, from politics to education.

“We can’t sit by and let the media dictate to us what’s important in our lives… and I think this movie is…a great first step for all of us to begin with discussion,” Stern said.

Directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, “Miss Representation”  attempts to demonstrate how mainstream media contributes to the underrepresentation of women, especially regarding positions of power.

Amy Orr, associate professor of Sociology and co-coordinator of the Gender Studies Porgram, along with Dr. Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt, organized Tuesday’s event in an effort to jump start the Gender Studies minor.

“We’re hoping we will revive interest in gender studies. These are things that people suffer through in silence…if we can at least start talking about it, something will change” said Orr.

It was a highly collaborative event, as students and faculty have been working since January Term to host a screening of the
documentary. One student in particular brought “Miss Representation” to the attention of faculty.

“I’ve had a fascination with the media and its effects on politics… and this documentary was right up my alley…I immediately emailed my advisor … to start working on an event,” said junior Amber Hay, who discovered the documentary through Facebook.

Since the 90-minute film was released at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, there has been unprecedented support to their cause. Not only does “Miss Representation” have six non-profit partners working with them, but their documentary has also been aired on the “OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network”.

Oprah Winfrey isn’t the only influential woman who has been moved by the film. In fact, numerous influential women took part in creating the film, including Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Margaret Cho, and Gloria Steinem.

However, this wasn’t an event exclusively for women,

“For both men and women…gender constrains us…and it has consequences,” said Orr.

Dr. Linder hopes that consequences will diminish as people become educated about what MissRepresentation.org calls, “the cycle of mistruths” created by the media.

“[We need] media literacy as much as we need to read,” Linder said.

Associate Professor of Mass Communication Lisa Weidman, who was present at the screening, assures that there is curriculum available if students want to be more media literate.

“Take Introduction to Mass Communications,” she said.

For more information, go to www.misrepresentation.org.

“It’s not exclusively a war on women, but it is a war on gender,” said Dutt- Ballerstadt.

Chrissy Shane
/Staff writer
Chrissy Shane can be reached at linfieldreviewnews@gmail.com

Senate changes voting structure

An amendment to the Associated Students of Linfield College Bylaws was proposed at the Senate meeting Feb. 27, which would eliminate the fall election and bring back the special election process, which had been replaced by fall election just a few years ago.

The amendment was passed with just one opposition, passing it onto the student body to vote on in spring.

Senator Bradley Keliinoi, ASLC vice president, proposed the amendment so that instead of holding fall elections in mid-October,
Senate would be able to call special
elections. Under the new amendment, these special elections could be called within a minimum of two weeks following the approval of a measure by Senate to a student body vote.

Keliinoi said he feels that the amendment would “eliminate the static, inflexible election structure where there could only be one fall election for referendums, initiatives, and amendment proposals and one spring election for the same and voting for new ASLC executives.”

Because of the current voting structure, the student body only has two opportunities throughout the year to vote on issues and proposals. However, if passed by the student body, these bylaws would provide more opportunites to propose measures without the constraint of deadlines, and would allow for changes to happen more quickly rather than taking an entire academic year before implementation, as is happening now.

“The current fall/spring election system has not worked in the years it’s been implemented, and I would argue that it has in fact stifled creativity and progress within our student government,” Keliinoi said. “The current system is flawed and I truly believe that ASLC would benefit from a flexible election system that encourages discussion, promotes change, and incentives student participation.”

Many of the drawbacks Senate has pointed out have been about a lack of consistency in the ASLC Bylaws. Some feel that the Bylaws should not be changed from year to year—especially since this same system was amended just a few years ago.

Keliinoi said he feels that the consistency will be maintained since the Bylaws are not being changed in substantive ways.

“Overall, the main goal of this proposed amendment is to return ASLC to a more flexible election system that encourages discussion, promotes change, and incentives student participation,” he said.

Andra Kovacs
/Senior reporter
Andra Kovacs can be reached at linfieldreviewnews@gmail.com