Sunday, September 30, 2012

724E Media Psych/Week 1/Digital Dependence

Technology impacts the way we think and behave. After this week’s research, I believe that the current and continuing trend in media development is blind dependence on technology. We use technology in our every day with confidence, and we do so without any understanding. (Burke)

With this dependence comes a digital age that is better to pay attention to rather than ignore. The speed at which technology runs impacts our every day. What is considered new today will be old tomorrow. New York experienced a black out due to a relay issue or technology that few of us can explain. While there was several incidents life threatening and otherwise, subway commuters stuck in darkness seemed unfazed.  Instead of reacting, the commuters turned a bad situation into a celebration. Burke describes it by saying, “They lit candles and depended on technology to save their lives.” (Burke) In the video 2015, our world became dependent on technology to provide individual news, locations, and consumer information. With the anticipation of Google glasses, this video not only looks possible but vaguely familiar. 

With such a reliance on technology, the only way to be equipped is to become familiar with its history and our future. Rather than comfortably living in one, we must actively live in both.  It will take learning “new stuff or learning new ways to do old stuff.” (Prensky, 2001) This will impact education and the way we teach our youth to become proficient in media technology.  For example, in the classroom teachers need to take new risks and will need encouragement to try new classroom design ideas and teaching techniques. (November, 2012)

The use of technology in the classroom allows the student and teacher to experiment with media literacy. “Students should be given the ability to craft media that is clear, creative and expresses a sense of vision and personal statement.” (Ohler, 2010) School Train, a video produced by students using mixed media, compares school to a train and students to cars. This type of learning should be immediately recognized as beneficial to students. The message of the video however, is very thought provoking. Are they describing what Prensky calls Digital Native and Digital Immigrant?  The train i.e. the school, is slow—“taking a long time” to get to a destination. This similarity could be known as Digital Immigrant. A school or train could be considered a mode of transportation that has become outdated. While it offers transportation for the student, the train does not offer instant gratification or individual control. On the other hand, a Digital Native could be considered a car. A car, i.e. student writing his or her own story and arrives at a destination in a shorter period of time.

As a future media psychologist, I see myself transferring in between Digital Native and Digital Immigrant. Both are necessary to survive in today’s world. Having the knowledge of how ink is used on an old printing press, while working in a layered Photoshop file sets a tone for future learning. The challenge will be imparting this knowledge on today’s youth with teachers who are comfortable operating in both schools of thought. This will take creativity, imagination and a permission slip to experiment. More importantly, it will take knowledge—not dependence on technology for both Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants to thrive. 

Burke, J. (Writer), & Burke, J. (Director). Connections, The Trigger Effect [Motion Picture].
November, A. (2012, September 28). Retrieved from
Ohler, J. B. (2010). Digital Community Digital Citizen. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants (Vol. 5). MCB University Press.


Ante, S. E. (n.d.). Hype and Hope: Test Driving Google's New Glasses. (S. Brin, Producer) Retrieved from Wall Street Journal:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Psych 700/Capstone

Critical thinking has given life to a part of me that I knew existed but did not know how to explain or access. After carefully assessing my role as a critical thinker, I used the nine strategies of life and made it a goal to reach Master Thinker (fingers crossed) status. (Validating Web Content) In order to accomplish this, critical thinking continues to have a significant impact on the way I use media, in professional practice as both a professor and creative director, through research and in my scholarly development within the Media Psychology program.

When I began to study critical thinking, I was convinced most everyone applied critical thought to basic forms of information. For instance, if I wanted a Conservative or Republican view of the Presidential race, I joined my father-in-law in his obsession with Fox News. If I wanted a Liberal or Democratic view I tuned into CNN. Amazingly, neither network acknowledges any bias. (Murdoch, 2006) Considering the source, I would then take the sum of the information and weigh it against the facts before determining my view. What I found in my limited scope of critical thinking is that I was in the minority. Not only did I misunderstand the true practice of critical thinking, my father-in-law really believed everything Fox News said. It became a one-stop-shop where not only he, but several of his friends developed an opinion of the Presidential race.

Niccolo Machiavelli created vision for political thought in The Prince. He refused to assume the government functioned as those in power said it did. Instead, he critically analyzed the agendas of politicians against the inconsistencies of politics in his day. (Machiavelli, 1532) I realized that I had taken “thinking” for granted; I was not practicing the art of critical thought. After recognizing my stage in development as Stage Four: The Practicing Thinker who recognizes the necessity of everyday practice, (The Critical Thinking Community) I was able to develop a goal while applying the practice of critical thinking in my everyday.  Much like training a muscle, I need to work out every day.

Digesting information through media is like a purchasing candy from a candy shop. Typically the display or packaging causes pause in the most conservative of purchasers, while ingredients promise consumers an explosion of flavor. Only later do you realize the true cost of the candy digested. In the same way, it’s easy to consume information media provides without realizing the impact. Over the last month, I’ve learned to consider the source of information first. Researching the credibility of each source used validates or invalidates its claim. (Validating Web Content) Understanding this information has also provided the ability to recognize framing of information I take in. This of course, is only the beginning of applying critical thinking to the way I use media. I have also become acutely aware of seeking out bias in media I consume. Richard West explains, “People who are aware of their own biases were not better able to overcome them.” (West RF, 2012) While all bias cannot be removed, I have found self-awareness to be a key ingredient as I weigh information the media provides.

Professionally, critical thinking has solidified the role of “visual critical thought”. Continuing to use the Socratic method, I encourage both students and employees alike to consider design choices. The result is design with balanced composition, purpose, creative messaging and impacting color. As I question those I work alongside, I also apply the Socratic method to further develop my own design skill. Realizing the value of visual critical thought, I have also become passionate about the introduction of critical thinking in education. At an early age, critical thought should be taught in a creative and innovative way so imagination is interwoven through the idea of being ‘critical’ and reasoned responses are combined with imaginative responses. “The aim is to create students who have a sense of aesthetic openness, but are also critically aware of the capacity of images to manipulate.” (Bamford)

Critical thinking is a liberating force in education. Developing skills as I evaluate and research in the Media Psychology program is a powerful resource. As I write, develop opinions and reconsider facts, I find that I’m more inquisitive and better informed. I hope in my research, to be open-minded and honest while facing personal bias. “Critical thinking…is a seminal goal which, done well, simultaneously facilitates a rainbow of other ends. It is best conceived, therefore, as the hub around which all other educational ends cluster.” (The Critical Thinking Community)

To think about thinking may seem foreign to some, but to an educated few, critical thinking should be highly valued and carefully developed. To make decisions about personal and civic affairs, critical thinking should be a part of our everyday lives. As media rapidly changes and information consistently explodes, our anchor should be the “question”. “Every field stays alive only to the extent that fresh questions are generated and taken seriously.” (The Critical Thinking Community)


Bamford, D. A. (n.d.). The Visual Literacy White Paper. Retrieved from
Machiavelli, N. (1532). The Prince. Florence, Italy: Antonio Blado d'Asola.
Murdoch, R. (2006, October 3). Interview Transcript: Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes. (J. Chaffin, Interviewer) Financial Times.
The Critical Thinking Community. (n.d.). Critical Thinking in Everyday Life: 9 strategies. Retrieved from
Validating Web Content. (n.d.). Retrieved from elearnspace:
West RF, M. R. (2012, June 4). Cognitive sophistication does not attenuate the bias blind spot. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology .


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Psych 700/Web bias


Media bias and stereotyping on the web impacts the type of information Internet users digest. This information, while sometimes easy to recognize, can also be difficult to identify without the proper skills or education. 


Over the years, the Internet has become a trusted resource for information. As society absorbs information at such a rapid rate, the volume can at times be difficult to evaluate. Knowing what to ignore and what to pay attention to, can become overwhelming.  "The Internet is a place where you can find "proof" of essentially any belief system that you can imagine."(November & Mull, 2012)  Without the proper skills, it becomes difficult to distinguish media bias and stereotyping. 

Evaluating information on the web is similar to building a muscle. Once you work out the muscle long enough, the muscle develops a memory. In the same way, the internet user applies an evaluation checklist and if used often enough, a habit can be formed while gathering information. Once the research skill is honed after use and time, the internet consumer is equipped with the ability to identify and incorporate factual information into education, work, or recreation. The following checklist is a necessary skill used to evaluate Internet sites:
  • Determine who is providing the information by using sites such as
  • Discover the expertise of the source through credentials or professional associations.
  • Determine the level of objectivity.
  • Establish currency or date of publication.(How to Evaluate,) 
While developing research skills can be a key component to successful bias identification and information gathering, is it full proof? Equipping researchers with the proper tools to identify web bias and stereotyping may only be part of the equation. While it's important to be aware of our own bias, it may influence the way we see the information researched. Communications researcher Scott Reid, of UC at Santa Barbara, performed a series of experiments with college age students revealing that our perception of bias changes depending on the self-identity currently in our mind. He went on to find that we interpret information based on how we see the relationship between ourselves and the author of an article. (Stray, June) These experiments offer a glimpse into an unchecked bias that may affect the way internet users view their research, impacting the final outcome. 

If the development of research skills is flawed by self-bias, could education be the answer? Introducing web literacy at a young age may foster the development of finding, organizing, and making sense of the information taken in. Alan November explains the experience of a young student, Zack who spent time researching the Internet and determined through his research that the Holocaust did not occur. Without the skills necessary to validate Internet content, Zack was not able to think critically about the information he was researching. "He had been taught to read paper, but he had not been taught to read the web."(November & Mull, 2012) Educating youth early on could provide the framework needed when self-bias arises later in life. In this way, our youth will be aware of proper Internet research while developing self awareness. Teaching our children to be responsible consumers of the Internet, could impact the development of society long term.


As researchers and as human beings, we need to be aware of our surroundings, and in today's world this includes the Internet. The information we obtain needs to be vetted, questioned and confirmed. When we open our mind, training it to seek truth and recognize bias within both text and motives, we can begin to arrive at a conclusion.


How to Evaluate Information-Checklist.(n.d.). Retrieved from

Lehrer, J. (2012, June 12). Why Smart People are Stupid. The New Yorker

November, A., & Mull, B. (2012, May 08). Why more schools aren't teaching web literacy-and 
     how they can start. Retrieved from 

Stray, J. (June, 2012 27). How do you tell when the news is biased? it depends on how you 
     see yourself. Retrieved from