Wooden hand controlling wooden puppet on strings.

Master of Puppets: How the Web Controls Us

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The Web plays a major role in our society today. It definitely plays a key role in my life. I cannot begin to imagine my life without internet access. Not only for it’s role in my academic career but for my personal life and down time. When reflecting on the internets role in my life, I typically view it as a tool I use for a plethora of different applications. For example, when it comes to my academic career, I use the internet for research, inspiration, communication, and much more. Basically, I view myself as the puppet master. I am in control. Unfortunately, this way of thinking is untrue. In fact, we internet users have little agency over our Web experience. We are the puppets.

We the Puppets

Lindsey C. Kim’s article, Understanding and Maintaining Your Privacy When Writing with Digital Technologies, was a slap in the face. Don’t get me wrong, I was never completely oblivious. However, I never realized how much control the Web had over my personal data and my overall user experience. Furthermore, Martha Fay Burtis’s speech, Messy & Chaotic Learning: A Domains Presentation at Keene State College, opened my eyes about how little control educators and students have on their academic Web experiences.

Let’s get more specific. How does the Web influence how we teach and write literature? When it comes to writing, different applications such as Word and Google Docs have built in spell and grammar check. Well, wouldn’t such extensions be deemed useful? Maybe. Or maybe we’ve become dependent on them. Whatever the case may be, the Web ultimately has a level of agency and influence over our writing. Writing with pen and paper is very different than writing with a word processor.

Now, how does the Web influence our educators? In the mid to late 1990’s, Learning Management Systems (LMS) were created by individual school faculties to assist their educators. LMS began simply as a publishing platform. However, it did not take long for them to evolve. In no time, these systems included gradebooks, emails, interactive quizzes, and much more. As more time elapsed, LMS became standardized and streamlined. School faculties no longer had a say in LMS. Most classes now follow a similar format.

Contrary to popular belief, we do not control technology, technology controls us. That being said, becoming aware of the Webs influence on our user experience is a step in the right direction.


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