Week 1: E-learning and Digital Cultures #edcmooc

I’m currently attending this MOOC: E-learning and Digital Cultures, offered through Coursera.

Activity for Week 1

Themes explored this week included technological utopianism and dystopianism, and the idea of technological determinism.

I watched these videos:

This animation showed symbolically how cultures elevate and then scrap technologies, hoisting them to a high level of dominance, only to turf them in favour of the next big thing. The animation design style mimicked Javanese paper cutout shadow puppets, which was a very compelling choice, and lent a sense of tribal, primitiveness and other-worldliness to the characters.

This live-action comedy-drama uses the metaphor of magic paper bags and sticky notes to illustrate behaviours, interactions and expectations in social media (Facebook, primarily).

“Thursday” is a charming animation showing the tension and inter-relation between human modern electronic culture, and the natural world that continues around (and in spite of) it.

The design style of the animation evokes video games in its pixely appearance and representation of space (isometric projection and side-scroller” look and feel).

Thursday seems to be saying that we live in a vastly technological society, but the natural world is vaster still, and more persistent. The little mother blackbird adapts her song to the tunes she overhears in people’s cellphones and alarm clocks, steals a bit of wire to build her nest, and shelters her chicks in a satellite dish. Nature adapts.

Mankind borrows echoes from nature, putting little bird-like chirps into its mechanical tools – as an ancient comfort perhaps? Generally, it’s man who seems to be living with blinders on, surrounding himself with mechanical proxies for nature, and cloistering himself away from it in his dark, hive-like internal cubicle farms. Not until our human protagonist sees “the big picture” from space (and later when he contemplates the little crashed bird on his windowsill) does he seem to reconnect to his natural world.

Ultimately, the theme I saw here was freedom and survival of the natural world, alongside the structure and abstractions of the human digital culture. I think the true main protagonist of this little film are the birds.

#edcmooc

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