Digital Wild West

Written by Alana Jolley

February 25, 2014

Digital Wild West

Apparently we are living in the Digital Wild West!   Of course it is not the same Wild West of the Western frontier of the United States.  Technology, and the skills to use it is the new wild west, according to a Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Howard Gardner.  How to synthesize all this information is becoming a huge cultural dilemma for education.

Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences was one of the greatest ideas of the 20th century.

Gardner is wondering now, in the 21st century, how our intelligences are going to synthesize all ” . . . the current (and coming) deluge of information.”  He believes, “we cannot do this on our own–and suggests that aids to synthesizing, such as “apps,” remain inadequate.”

As a noted Harvard researcher, Gardner says, “We will have to continue asking with every new opportunity or device:  Does this liberate me or hinder me?”  Gardner calls it the “Digital Wild West,” because the issues of “identity, privacy, ownership, and citizenship” are challenging the cultural roles of ethics.

Profound cultural changes are taking place in this “wild west” the world over,  due to numerous tech devices, which are easily accessible. Traditional cultural communities are disappearing, into this “wild west,” while online social network communities are taking their place.

Gardner’s very relevant question is this,  “And what does it mean to participate in community when that community might be widespread and even unknowable?”  It is definitely necessary to Explore More! in Cultural Anthropology to come to grips with these fast-track cultural changes.  It may not be the same wild West frontier of two centuries ago, but that historic frontier was unknown and it brought radical cultural changes, just as the Digital Wild West is doing today.

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