No doubt this is a controversial question. In general, I believe technology has moved us forward. Without advancements in technology, humans wouldn’t have entered space, have the ability to Google any topic or instantly talk to grandma, who lives half way across the globe. But to answer this question as it stands is difficult, so I’ll look at it from a couple of standpoints.
I’ve thought about this question from time to time especially after I read an article by @tbowers928 (Toni Bowers) of Tech Republic where she posed the question on whether the teaching of cursive writing should be dropped completely in favor of teaching elementary school kids how to type on keyboards instead. My immediate reaction was to shake my head vehemently and say no, of course not! What’s next, dropping writing completely?! But with cursive writing, according to a report earlier this year by ABC News, 41 states “have so far adopted the new Common Core State Standards for English, which does not require cursive.”
As the ABC News reports, there are arguments for both sides. Those for dropping cursive writing argue that it’s antiquated, time-consuming and just not as useful as typewriting skills. But those in support of maintaining it point to evidence from neuroscience which seems to indicate that people learn better if they learn to write by hand. Others say it’s essential in part because of the proliferation of another technology, texting among teens.
This second point is quite ironic but when I hear reports of students using texting language in academic work, I cringe. And it’s not just texting that has led to questions on the influence of technology on the English language – people have wondered the same with regards to Twitter (check out article from Ars Technica and Ragan.com). With Twitter, I can understand the different viewpoints. On the one hand, it goes back to bringing shorthand text writing into formal and academic work, which I believe is a no-no. On the other hand, Twitter’s 140-character limit forces you to be more creative and succinct, which can be a big plus in helping those who can be overly verbose learn to write more concisely.
So when it comes to LOL- and Twitter-speak, I use them all the time when instant messaging and texting, but I draw the line with academic writing. What do you think? Do you agree? And are there other technologies that you think are causing us to move backwards?