The internet is made up of a series of tubes. No. Really. It is. The tubes carry the data from server to server and sometimes it gets more involved in that. Someone feel free to jump in any time and let me know how it really work because that’s pretty much the extent of my knowledge on this topic.
What I do know rather well is what to do when my computer breaks. I call one of my computer geek friends. I don’t even have to be PC about that. They are all very comfortable with being geeks. And the vicious cycle continues. One day I might end up like that old lady in Georgia who accidentally broke all the internet cables going into Armenia with a garden spade.
But neither DeVoss, Cushman and Grabill’s 2005 article, “Infrastructure and Composing,” nor Daniel Anderson’s “The Low Bridge to High Benefits” insist that students know how the internet works in order to change their compositions into multimedia projects. What they do insist on is our pre-thinking about the infrastructures involved in what we ask our students to do. Pair that with Rudolfo and DeVoss’s 2009 Kairos page about ‘Rhetorical Velocity,’ and we’ve got a group of infrastructures that are quite important to know how to operate.
A lot has changed since DeVoss, Cushman and Grabill wrote about the server issue at MSU. Now, instead of worrying about student space on hard drive, I worry about whether or not my students can organize their files. I tell them to save their work in several places and to make sure it all works AND there’s a backup before a multimedia presentation. It’s even in the syllabus. But still somehow most of them think I’m kidding. Or probably that it won’t happen to them. And by ‘it’ I mean a non-functioning product on presentation day, of course.
I know that for a lot of them, their computer files look like their backpacks: no folders, papers thrown any old place, stuff from two semesters ago shoved in with stuff I gave them last week.
Do any of us ever teach how to manage files? Do we talk about how to organize our images, our videos and our text files when we ask them to build multimedia products? It seems like this should be something we talk about talking about.
But we’ve talked about the digital native before. Times have changed and students are expected to come to college already understanding how to deal with their own infrastructures. Some of them do… but most of them have no idea what their university H: drive is, or how it works.
How important is knowing how stuff works these days, anyway? Do we NEED to know how the internet works to be able to use it? Do you know how your car works so you can drive it?
It’s hard to answer that in a blog post, so I’m not going to.
But I will leave you with a nice little story about infrastructure, speed, and what something called a Super Computer can do for us in the future.