The readings, discussions and blog posts for this week have been interesting.
There has been a lot of discussion about the various theories asking which are, or what combination of them are, correct. There have even been some people who were quite offended that we looked at the digital native/immigrant theory, forcefully mentioning that it has been discredited several times by now.
I do have some sympathy with their point, this is one of those zombie theories that no matter how many times you think you have killed it keeps coming back. However, this weeks theme is “looking at the past” so the native/immigrant theory deserves including, if only to consider why it has proved so popular in the public imagination.
Looking at the other readings my opinion is that none of them are definitively “Right”. I don’t think we were given these readings to find a “right” answer, but rather to make us familiar with the various categories of explanation. This allows us both to identify when an argument is being made that is using (for example technological determinism) to make its case rather than evidence and also make us aware of using them ourselves.
So which should we use? Well IMHO there are times to use all of them.
My first degree was in Environmental Chemistry and that involves creating models to explain what is happening in reality. Once you have a decent model, you test it, and if you are brilliant/lucky you may improve on it and all the other scientists will start using and improving your model.
Generally speaking each improvement makes the model more complex (reality is complicated!). This doesn’t always mean that older simpler models become useless, they can be used when you don’t want to complicate with too many variables or are explaining to an audience lacking an in depth knowledge of the system.
(to make life even more fun there are often different competing models both rightish looking at things in different ways or scales. Oh and of course models that are just plain wrong – example the sun does not orbit the earth)
The key thing is that you must never mistake the model for reality!
So in summary when I make claims in future they should be in this structure
Here is what I think, here is my evidence, here are the theories I am using to support this and actually it will be more complicated than that