STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 12/21/2009

Short Takes: Three Professors On The Challenges of Cyberspace

Paul Borgman, professor of English
I suspect it a very good thing that science and technology transform man [and woman] from within, changing our imaginations. God gave us brains, the capacity to dispel myths and foolishness in the light of critical thought. So hip hip for Google. My students write far better critical essays than ever before, in part because they choose to “insource” the virtual libraries of the world. The best are thinking better. The possibilities for liberal thinking (listening irenically to the other) have never been greater, and for progress in general—just as the possibilities for illiberal thinking have never been greater, and for destructiveness of mind and masses. That’s what the metaphor of Armageddon means: good at its blossoming best; evil at its withering worst. Voilá, showdown time. 

Mark Cannister, professor of Christian Ministries
Biblical Studies and Christian Ministries Faculty
When young people spend countless hours on social networking sites, surfing the Web, and playing video games, they become subject to social isolation and instant gratification. Even though social networking sites are designed for personal interaction they are no substitute for person to person encounters. Adolescence is a time for young people to engage in the social norms of their culture and learn how to build healthy relationships with peers and adults. Replacing such interaction with plasma screens stunts or at least delays the development of our humanity. In our microwave society of instant everything we have become an impatient people. Working through problems, taking time to build things that last, and reflecting on thoughtful ideas all require delayed gratification. However, much technology, particularly gaming, is predicated on our desire for instant gratification. Rather than learning the deep satisfaction of investing significant time into a project well done, young people learn to give up if the task takes too long as it is deemed not worthy of the time and energy. In our quest for efficiency through technology we must remember that healthy human development requires personal interaction with others and an appreciation for delayed gratification.

Bruce Herman, professor of Art
One muddled thought to offer: all our works (computers included) are subject to the laws of gravity and thermodynamics—but also hold the possibility of “glory.” I don’t really feel equipped to write a meditation on glory, but I think that anything we put our hand to is a potential Gold Calf or a potential Holy of Holies. Speaking as an artist, I think it helps to remember that the Holy of Holies was a work of architecture—authorized and blessed by the Creator, but the work of a human artist. Why can’t God indwell our cyber-architecture?


Paul Borgman, Professor of English
Mark Cannister, Professor of Christian Ministries
Brice Herman, professor of art