četvrtak, 3. siječnja 2013.

Philosopher of post PC era

Or, on people who like to live in present

As some of you may have seen in my previous posts, i tend to write a lot about mixing philosophy and technology, especially the one of newest, post PC era. Using tablets and smartphones has become part of our daily lives and i tend to use them in order to contribute to my work. As i work as teacher, i also like to integrate this new technology in my classes - since my/our students use it anyway during the class, whether we like it or not. Human beings have always managed to do things using technology as tools to survive or communicate, so why would we now reject contemporary tools when we could use them in our advantage?
Sure, i can congratulate to all of our predecessors who lived without the use of such delicate technology, but every one of them used tools available in their own time, so even Plato used tablets to write down his thoughts and dialogues. Even though tablets nowadays are made of different materials, they have the same purpose - they are mainly used so that people can communicate with each other. I don't see any harm in that.
I happen to know some of our colleague philosophers who still didn't get used to PC's, let alone post PC devices, but i really don't see any firm reason for such approach to more available and easier means to achieve some of your goals. Still, i am glad to see many of my colleagues around the world sharing their thoughts, ideas and methods on social networks, and they are really opened to cooperation. Such state of affairs brings hope in future of our calling and shows that, for now atleast, part of us is ready to cope with present world and think of near future in a mature and responsible way.
Those people who still struggle with (post) PC technology, or they refuse to be active in any of social networks, remind me a lot of Woody Allen's main character in Midnight in Paris. Funny thing is that if those people would have watched the movie, they would clearly see how the character is trapped with his desires to live in the past. From this perspective it looks really funny, but i doubt that they would see how they are doing the same thing - their main desires are aimed toward a thing they can not have, and yet they refuse to be involved in a world around them. Today, every philosopher lives in a post PC era, theres only ones who can recognize it and use it, and those who, for whatever reason, ignore it. I am only sorry that i have never heard a solid argument for ignoring it.
Now, to be honest, i dont really like blogs. I almost never read them, because they are mostly boring piles of texts and personal opinions. The only reason i started writing this blog is to share some of personal experiences in my practice and also to try to engage more people in philosophical practice. Sure, i got some positive comments on my social networks, but i dont really think it's working - one of the reasons can be that my writing isn't that good and i can't get people interested, and the other can be that people are also a bit sick of blogs. And i get that. This is where post PC comes - it was more interesting for me to make a fun review of philosophical apps for Android and iOS devices than to read some blogs and texts about same old same old, Kant, Plato, Wittgenstein, whatever of that sort. When i reviewed those apps, i felt i did philosophy, and yet it wasn't hard, boring, disappointing. Same goes with teaching - when i used smatrphones in classroom i made my students DO something, create something on their own. Sure, they could have written a poem using pencil and notebook, but, as i wrote in introduction to this post, it doesn't hurt to live in present sometimes. 
Maybe some of you still have ideological prejudices toward consumerism and material possessions, but i can asure you that your health costs money, that your loved ones cost money, and so on, so buying one other tool which helps you stay informed in fast changing world around you can't hurt. Im not saying that you need to be permanetly attached to your mobile device no matter what, i just want to share my experience and also try to reason with myself why i use it and what does it mean to be a philosopher in post PC era, what could be the benefits of it. As a perfect example, take Twitter. It couldn't be simpler! Twitter is such an useful tool for philosophical thought development. Why? Because, if you can't describe your current endeavors in one simple coherent sentence, you don't even need to bother. This is the heritage of mobile text messages. This approach makes you think! When i was a college freshman, i did a research paper on language used in mobile text messaging and i found out from other resources that in Croatia, where i live, people actually started using archaic past tense in text messages, because of its simpler, shorter form! This past tense is taught in schools, but it is never used in everyday conversations nor in any modern literature - and yet, people had think of a way to say what they want in shorter and simpler terms, because of text message language economy. Wouldn't you call that thinking? Don't you do similar thing when writing on Twitter? I know i do. I do because i know people aren't always interested in hearing my life story or my entire worldviews - i write about it here, and i can distinguish those two spheres of communication. This form, blog, is unlimited and i can go on for ages, but on Twitter i have to think what im going to write in order to be understood as simply and as better possible. 
This is also a place where philosophical practice comes into play. What i lately tend to practice with teaching and with philosophy, i mostly find on post PC devices. Simplicity, conceptualisation, focus, critical thinking, dialogue, all other sorts of things, including different apps, ebooks (oh, the advantage of having every book you could possibly need at the swipe of your fingers!), online tools, everything can be used with mobile devices and integrated in your classroom or everyday philosophical practice. Once you get in, it isn't hard to keep up and use it as it best suits you. There are numerous ways in which you can be creative and make something positive out of it. At the end, people make tools in order to improve their lives. Do you use your vacuum cleaner? Oh, you do? Not a broom? Well...

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