Friday, 24 April 2009

Wired Launch in the UK

Walking into the shop on campus this week, I noticed that the magazine Wired have now launched a UK edition. So I picked up a copy and though I've yet to read through it properly, it looks like it might be interesting. You can see a sample of the magazine here.

The sampler will give you an idea of how many adverts the magazine contains (perhaps not as many as some) and contains some nice interactive features, like Page 10 & 11 for instance, which allows you to see London before and after huge sea-level rise.

A quick skim of the magazine itself though reveals the usual tid-bits, factoids and design frills that I eventually found so annoying right before I stopped buying magazines a few years back. The only magazines that have really interested me lately are Private Eye, The Wire (soberly designed avant-garde music magazine; no relation to this one or the television series) and McSweeney's (each one a different and beautiful format, containing little else but carefully short stories by both professional and amateur writers). What I was (and am) hoping for from the UK Wired are some more critical articles on technology and its increasing (or already ubiquitous) presence in our lives and in society.

I've blogged previously about my tendency towards analogue snobbery - ie. finding enjoyment in getting away from the technology, preferably by going somewhere at least reminiscent of the feral... It would be good to see this reflected more often in technological publications. Like Bill Joy's doubts and worries about where technology is taking our civilisation and what we can do about it (one fasincating section even cites the Unabomber manifesto as a way of drawing attention to these issues) or Steve Silberman's look at the rise of autism in Silicon Valley in which he wonders if "math-and-tech genes are to blame". Both of these articles appeared in U.S. issues of Wired. While the U.K.'s edition has a centre-spread section titled "Fetish" in which readers are invited to drool over pictures and stats of new gadgets and laptops...

While there might be an irony in an e-Learning Development Officer (a job title which is often used interchangeably with the word "technologist") pointing to almost uncritical worship of technology and wearing an expression of vague concern, I think it's important to consider not only how technology can be used to enhance learning but also what impact it's having on students - from their expectations of the education system to their views on social interactions and participation, right down to their lifestyles in general.

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