‘Jack and the Interstalk’ Review

To begin with a link to the article I will be referring to  in this review: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/nov/02/cory-doctorow-children-and-computers

Whilst doing my weekly skim through the Guardian website for interesting articles that don’t feature on the front pages of news websites, I came across this short piece which illustrates the importance the internet and computers will play in future generations’ lives. A quick summary would be that the author is talking about his approach to his toddler being given access to the computer. He describes the creative and fun ways kids can interact with the machine by combining the internet with story time and games. In this particular case he pulls images of worlds such as ‘castle’ from Google in order to illustrate the story for his toddler.

After reading the article, I read a few of the comments and I was very disappointed with some of the narrow-minded approaches. The first comment criticizes the fact that showing a child images may restrict the imagination, but then wouldn’t that include all picture books as well? Images have been simultaneously combined with story telling for centuries and in many ways people are actually defending a more traditional method because of this fear of screens. Children are forever being told to stay away from screens, not to stay on the computer too long, not to watch TV too long, and yet at the same time adult life today suggests that they will probably be doing exactly that in their futures. Screens are eveywhere, from bus stops to our homes and today in education as well. So do people oppose the embracing of screen-mania? Or are they OK with it so long as an educational value is added. I am yet to hear about a parent complaining when new computers are added on any campus, be that a University or Kindergarden one.

What the above article really touches on is the ‘Interstalk’. That magic stalk we are all climbing up which connects us through the Web. We are able to branch out and learn from one another, and although people are still skeptics at home, I am glad education has embraced this movement. The way the toddler is shown to be interacting with the computer and her enthusiasm illustrates this odd hypnotic effect screens have on people, not just children. The same effect can surely help increase concentration in the classrooms, and if made interactive will engage the brain in the correct way to help witht he acquisition of information.


About computeinanotherlanguage

QMUL Student doing languages and computing :)
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One Response to ‘Jack and the Interstalk’ Review

  1. Martin says:

    Hi Vicky,
    This is an interesting post! I think the points you make are very valid and very true. There does seem to be a contradiction in people’s objections to children viewing pictures on a screen, when pictures have always been used to illustrate stories for children. In fact, pictures must surely pre-date written language? Just consider cave paintings and hieroglyphics!

    I think people get quite panicked about the effects of screen media on children. But many parents grew up with TV in their own childhoods – do they think this harmed their development in some way? I think the essence of the question really lies in the ways in which we use our technological tools (including the Internet). They are, after all, just tools for us to use to help us with information sharing, education, work, social life, shopping and many other purposes. But the harm comes when the tools are abused – for example, to spread misinformation or to promote negative attitudes. This all relates to broader questions of freedom of information and freedom of speech.

    It sometimes amazes me that we have so many TV channels, yet so many of them broadcast banal or boring programmes!! You could say that the greater the number of information channels we have, the more diluted the quality of that information becomes.

    I don’t know – it’s been a long day and I’m rambling (roaming wearily through the wilderness of my own mind!!). I think computers and the internet do more good than harm, but it comes down to using them appropriately.

    Thanks very much for your very thought-provoking post!!

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