Reading Response Week 2

Second Reading Response for LS 583

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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.

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.

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. 🙂

 

MLA Career Center Tips

LS 534 – Brief resource post.

Listed as a helpful tool, within my LS 534 course schedule, was the link to the Medical Library Association’s Career Center page.  I recently became a student member of the association and have found their website, in it’s entirety to be a great resource for those of us MLIS students interested in the medical librarianship realm!

Shortly after I decided medical librarianship was the direction I would like my career to move, I started reaching out to my current colleagues and found that many of them had contacts whom I could learn from.  On MLA’s Career Center page, an important tip for those interested in the field is to network.  You never know in whom or where you will find a mentor, they could even be within your current professional circle – put the word out about your interest and desire to learn more, doing just that will often provide you more information and connections than you thought!

I have copied the link below to the Career Center, for those interested in checking it out 🙂

http://www.mlanet.org/p/cm/ld/fid=355

(featured photo courtesy of https://pixabay.com)