Reading Response Week 2

Second Reading Response for LS 583

As I approach this week’s reading response, I feel my mind drifting in what feels like every direction – we digested a whole lot of information, from a wide variety of perspectives, all relevant and in many ways intertwined.  To narrow down the scope of my response, I have chosen to specifically focus on the second portion of required texts, highlighting the concepts deeply rooted within the Ellison and Turkle readings.  Ellison and her team selected to analyze this topic by completing a study of a specific sect of college students, while Turkle approached the topic in a much more in depth and philosophical way.

A common concept defined within each text is social capital. This is the base, the foundation for each text, in a sense – as both are looking at how the current standard of relationships has been impacted by interaction with technology.  Ellison focuses on the social media site of Facebook, although by including factors such as, self-esteem and life satisfaction, as they compare to use of the platform, the team looks deeper into the psyche of the users.  This is acknowledgment that the demographics and personal state of individuals is a key component when evaluating their use of online social platforms.  It helps those studying the topic to better understand the motivation for use of specific technologies to connect with others.  The concepts of bridging versus bonding relationships, surfaces within the text of the Ellison study, they are meant to categorize the connections made online – on Facebook, for this study.  After reading through the study I decided to review my personal interactions and “friendships” on Facebook.  I found that roughly 80% of my connections could be considered “bridged”, meaning that I have no offline relationship with these individuals (only 6% of them, had I ever considered “close” friends).  This left 20% of the connections to be those with people I interact with on a regular, or at least semi-regular, basis and know that I could turn to them for emotional support.  I was not surprised by my findings, and it fell in line with research completed at a national level.

Ellison’s study also discussed that users who were considered to use Facebook at a heightened intensity level, who also indicated lower self-esteem and life satisfaction, found that the interaction and connections made online increased their self-esteem and satisfaction levels.  It is mentioned within the text, that it can be speculated, users who would typically not interact or be social offline, may be more likely to reach out to other users in the online setting.  I have to say, that this is definitely something I have found to be very true.  In an article related to brain activity and neurological reactions to online interactions – including Facebook “likes”, comments, and even just being notified of activity – it is understandable that many young people (and otherwise) turn to online connections to find intimacy and emotional support.  In a study completed in Australia, it was found that when individuals interact online, or receive responses from other users, the brain releases dopamine and a momentary spike in happiness is felt.  This means, “the same brain areas [that are activated for food and water] are activated for social stimuli”, this is similar to receiving “…a smile, someone telling you you’re doing a great job, or you’re trustworthy.”

Turkle’s introduction, titled “Alone Together”, takes the concepts introduced within the Ellison study a step further.  Ellison’s study, for me, was an example of one specific platform and its interactions with a particular type of individual.  Turkle opens the discussion to reach more broadly, to see how online and artificial intelligence technologies, as a sect, are creating more connections than ever, while simultaneously disconnecting humans.  In one portion, when she shares the story of her daughter at the museum, she looks at how the younger generations (and many others) are viewing artificial life as superior to reality.  The fact that we have more control over robot animals, than wild ones, heightens the appeal to use one in place of the other.  We are seeking to heighten efficiency in our world, and this is spilling over to our personal lives – which is leaving us disconnected from those we consider our closest loved ones.  Texts and emails have replaces visits and phone calls, make our world feel impersonal.  Since we are always connected, we are unable to take moments to focus on ourselves.  We can be in a room full of people and not realize it, looking past real people to view those online.  How will these changes affect us long term?

In the second part of her discussions, Turkle writes about how it appears that with the advancement of robots and artificial intelligence, people are becoming more reliant on these technologies to provide the interaction and support that was once given by another human.  Her analysis of how authentic these relationships actually are, and how do they ultimately impact our psyche (emotional stability and ability) were very interesting.  She brought to light the questions that we should all be asking, is the decrease in human contact – physically, verbally, emotionally – really a good thing?  Perhaps it’s good for some, but not for all?  Essentially, one of my takeaways from the reading is that people are seeking ways to remove themselves from the human experience.  We have decided that living and feeling all of the “good” emotions – happiness, love, joy – are not worthy having to live through the other, “bad” emotions – anger, sadness, depression.  Many would elect to avoid these emotions and connections, by retaining only relationships with robots (AI’s) and online connections.

Summer Class in Session – Reading Response #1

First Reading Response of summer classes.

I admit, regardless of the consequential judgements that may result, prior to completing the readings for this week I lived in what could be considered a naïve state.  Yes, I understand that injustice and hatred thrive in our world.  Although when I read through the syllabus and saw that we were initiating the course by analyzing the implications of technology on society I thought, “implications, as in the advancement of humankind?”.  I could not comprehend the idea that technology could have such severe consequences – nor had several of those that are not so exaggerated, crossed my mind.  Let alone ones that were intentional and could be inherently political.  As I progressed through the four assigned readings, each seemed to build off of the next, taking these concepts and the analysis a step further.  Hutchby, Pacey, Winner, and the Selfe’s all took varying perspectives on the issue at hand, although all acknowledged the reality and necessity for those developing technologies to consider factors beyond just the intended function of a technology.

In my opinion, Hutchby laid the groundwork for the concepts that are presented in the other three articles, he provides the basis for all of the papers – does technology shape society, or is it vice versa?  Hutchby also introduces the concept of technological determinism – the idea that technology is always good and offers improvements by merely existing, without any social or cultural implications.   Although throughout his paper he brings to light how crucial it is for us to consider the reality that technologies impact all parts of life, and how apparent it is that the relationship between users and technology is a two way street.  The flow of his article was at times difficult to follow and often left me wondering what his purpose was, or where he was taking the conversation.  Though necessary clarifications were made, at the beginning and in his conclusion, specifically.  He could have utilized a more logical order and flow, this thought became more ironic after reading through the Selfe’s piece. Although, if nothing else he allows the core of this research and work to surface.   He also acknowledges how the analysis completed prior to his work, was lacking and how it could and should improve into the future.

Pacey takes the concepts introduced by Hutchby, and breaks them down in a more focused and specific way.  He acknowledges the fact that the term “technology”, itself, has had its meaning muddied through its exploitation and overuse throughout the years.  His article sets to great define and clarify the concept and its cousins.  He makes the perspective which Hutchby ultimately took, and refines it down to a single phrase – technology practice.  This concept is broken down into three relevant aspects: technical, organizational and cultural.  For me the further breakdown, in addition to the more tangible and relatable examples – such as the snow mobile and the water pump – provided me more reference and deeper understanding of the discussion. With the water pump, and its failure at the maintenance level, I was able to realize parallels within any multi-level organization, where no one wants to take responsibility for a failure, fingers are always pointed elsewhere.  We all view situations through tunnel vision and never want to take the blame.  This applies to the idea of technology in the way that support and willingness exists in the beginning, during creation and employment, but often the thought of “how will this be sustained long term” is often not asked.

To review the issue from a more specific perspective, Winner writes about the political characteristics of technologies – whether inherent or otherwise.  This article was the one that brought to light the most severe cases of how power has been used in our country to create physical, tangible technologies in order to intentionally impact trends within society – including active prejudice. This is the one that made me uncomfortable, that made me realize I live in what could be considered a “bubble”, where I am shielded from so much of the injustice that others experience.  The low hanging bridges that exist to this day in Long Island, in particular were completely eye opening.  Social class bias and racial prejudice, so blatant, and yet so accepted.

Selfe and Selfe were able to apply the reality of prejudice that exists for Americans who are more darkly colored, to how this type of precedence has been widely accepted and allowed within our society – in ways that are much more subtly than an individual being excessively searched and questioned when re-entering the US.  Realization of the design of computers and even the Internet, came while I was reading this piece.  I have never once stopped to think about the fact that each of these platforms were geared to an English speaking, white collar, male audience – in the way that English is set as the default language, systems are designed in a hierarchical way, and the metaphors that exist in the naming of features within each.

Overall, I think that the readings for this week provided me foundational insight in the reality that exists within the interwoven relationship between technology and society.  I think that the groundwork laid and historical references provided by the four articles, will allow me to better grasp the topics to come in this course.  This has been the first step in my I hope to have my naivity transitioned to awareness.

That’s a wrap!

The second semester of my MLIS program is official over – all assignments have been signed, sealed, and delivered!

To recap, here are a few things I have learned over the last 17 weeks:

  1. I really need to think hard about taking 3 courses at once, while working nights… and decide not to, ever. again.
  2. It might be necessary to listen to a lecture for a second or even third time – until the surplus of information chooses to be absorbed by my brain.
  3. It’s okay to skim some weekly readings/reading every word of every article will make your head hurt, also result in little to no actual comprehension.
  4. The library field is an ever-changing and ultra-dynamic one. (I had some inkling of this previously, but it was confirmed through the courses this semester).
  5. Take notes during lectures – This helps to maintain alertness, as well as aid in the process of understanding content more fully.
  6. It’s okay to not understand references made my peers or instructors, related to books they have all read – everyone has their own expertise and can contribute to the conversation in their own way!
  7. DO NOT wait until the last week to complete assignments due, the last week.

What is “Health Literacy”?

AKA Article Summary #10

To define health literacy, it must first be determined how literacy is defined.  To do this, the authors of the article elected to complete a retrospective view of the definition’s origin in our country.  It is cited within the text, that as the definition and parameters of the of it evolved, United States society was changing along with it – the two were interactively intertwined.  To give a brief overview of the changes within the definition of, then termed “functional literacy”, below is a list of corresponding decades and required grade levels that were to be completed in order for an individual to be considered “literate” and able to compete in the job market.

  • Late 1800’s/Early 1900’s = Able to read and write
  • 1930’s = three or more years of schooling
  • 1940’s = 4th grade completed
  • 1950’s = 6th grade completed
  • 1960’s = 8th grade completed
  • 1970’s = High school diploma earned
  • Current day = Postsecondary training/Higher education

Based on this abbreviated glimpse at the timeline of literacy, it can be concluded that as our country has moved “…from an agricultural to an industrial economy and now an information-based economy” the definition of literacy has adapted.

In 1988 Congress requested that the Department of Education create a universal definition for the country.  So, three years later, such a definition was written into history.  Literacy was defined as, “an individual’s ability to read, write and speak in English, and compute and solve problems at a level of proficiency necessary to function on the job and in society, to achieve one’s goals, and develop one’s knowledge and potential.”  So, basically the US was still left with a whole lot of room for interpretation and subjectivity on the issue.

As we all know, and as the authors mention, eventually the country turned into mandated testing within the school systems, measuring intelligence based on very specific criteria and subjects.  This type of testing was parallel to the Adult Literacy Testing that the Department of Education commissioned in the late 1980’s and once again in 2003.  The 2003 assessment essentially took it back to our “roots”, focusing on reading and writing – one big literacy circle.

Once the article outlined the history of the broader concept of literacy, the authors then moved in for a closer analysis of health literacy.  Right off the bat they acknowledge the reality that, just as the broader concept had changed with society, this new term has seen its fair share of evolution. One revolutionary realization cited within the text is the fact that skill level cannot be associated purely with educational attainment.  Although the two correlate to one another in some ways, they do not necessarily have to dictate one another. This realization was considered when comparing literacy rate to health outcomes of individuals, and analyzing how these two factors correlate.

Eventually the term has moved to be understood in its own right, in its own meaning, without the correlation to literacy a part from health.  One widely accepted definition, cited in the article, came from a committee within AMA in 1999.  This statement placed the goals of health literacy at the center of the terms meaning, “the capacity to obtain, process, and understand”.  Then ensued the various debates over things like, is this term static or dynamic? Should it be based solely on individual literacy, or is this a broader term for public education? Ultimately, the question is – is it okay to accept more than one, single definition.  If so, what are potential ramifications?

I found this read to be both historically informative, and also highly engaging.  I felt involved with the discussion and found myself to be agreeing or disagreeing with certain definitions that have emerged.  I understand that without consensus and a single definition, research completed that relates to health literacy, could become convoluted.  That being said, I like the idea of the phrase being dynamic.  It makes sense to me that it might take on different meaning based on the context it is used in.

 

Reference

Berkman, N., Davis, T., & McCormack, L. (2010). Health literacy: what is it?. Journal Of Health Communication, 159-19 11p. doi:10.1080/10810730.2010.499985

 

Health Literate Care Model

As my peers know, and anyone who has taken any graduate level courses, the weekly reading lists for classes can be quite cumbersome at times.  I am blaming it on this fact, for having overlooked an interesting tool that was included on one such reading list.  Below I have provided a link to the Health Literate Care Model, accessible on the health.gov website.  This model is an interactive and straightforward tool dealing with all stages of patient care.  It includes training videos, tips, and definitions for all aspects.

Check it out athttp://health.gov/communication/interactiveHLCM/index.html

Reflection on IT Fluency

As the semester comes to a close, I am reflecting back on all of the modules, assignments, posts, and projects completed.  From HTML and Unix commands, to Twitter and blogging, I can confidently say that both LS 534 and LS 560 created opportunities for me to interact with technology in ways I had not prior to this semester. Each course has provided me insight into a various platforms, some that I had no idea even existed, some I had  purposefully elected to avoid until it was required for the course.

All in all, my head is full of new knowledge and I am very grateful for all of the learning opportunities each class offered me.  Currently, my brain is still dizzy from all of the new concepts that were absorbed (spit back out and then re-absorbed), as time wears on I know that each piece of knowledge gathered will benefit my career in librarianship!  As soon as my group completes our database project for 560, I have no doubt a weight will feel lifted and I will be much more grateful for each of these assignments and what they taught me.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, as I type this, although I am still feeling a bit overwhelmed and anxious about it all.  I am looking forward to being able to breathe and fully take a retrospective look at the semester, perhaps in a week or two. 🙂

 

Codes of Ethics

As I work through related readings for the assigned ethics paper in LS 534, I have found a handful of relevant codes, which can be placed at the intersection of healthcare and information dissemination.  Below are links to the various codes, which I have found helpful in my research.

Ultimately, a common theme throughout each, is that these codes are merely guides establishing a framework, through which professionals should complete their work.  None of these codes claim to be absolute or without gray areas.  At the end of the day, professionals in information and/or health fields need to have sufficient understanding of existing standards and policies, to determine the best response to daily interactions with patients, clients, or patrons.

MLA Code of Ethics for Health Sciences Librarianship

ALA Code of Ethics

AMIA Code of Ethics

AHIMA Code of Ethics