We face a digital literacy crisis. Emerging technologies have been broadly and rapidly embraced due to their promise of enhancing the human condition and a future of sophisticated lifestyle that makes us healthier, more efficient, and more focused. That future, however, may diminish our autonomy, privacy, and sense of self. Thanks to the allure of personalized data afforded by ubiquitous technologies and analytics platforms, massive amounts of data are collected, mined, and used to influence human behavior. We are trackable, predictable, and hackable. Yet, public understanding of emerging technologies – especially pervasive and embodied technologies – has not kept up with the full potential and perils of these technologies. How should people interact with smart machines and artificial intelligence that have become commonplace in our lives?
How might augmented, virtual, or extended reality technologies improve healthcare, commerce, or education? How can analytics be used to enhance humanity and promote virtuous culture? Most importantly, what does it mean to be digitally literate in today’s world? To address these critical questions, this cluster is a collaborative community for researchers, teachers, and students. We have partnered with the growing cultural technologies repository, Fabric of Digital Life, to examine the effects of emerging technologies on human communication, social interaction, and human thought. Fabric provides a relational database that enables cataloging, searching, and browsing of web-based special collections. Our projects to date have gained steady momentum and scholarly interests within the fields of digital humanities, rhetoric and communication, technology studies, and English and literacy studies, among others.
Dr. Ann Hill Duin, Professor of Writing Studies and Graduate-Professional Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Minnesota. She is the co-founder of the Emerging Technologies Research Collaboratory. Contributor and Acquisitions Editor for Fabric of Digital Life.