‘Will the challenges emerging with digital knowledge contexts, for which digital literacy is being deployed, open new horizons for the human art of thinking and creating knowledge?’ (Belisle 2006, p.55).
Reference: Harvard Style
Knowledge can be interpreted in different ways where one scholar defines knowledge as a learnt education another interprets knowledge as intelligence. Knowledge is continuing a process commencing at birth. Belisle (2006) states Knowledge is much more than the transmitted or acquired information. It is the awareness and understanding of facts, truths or beliefs resulting from perception, learning and reasoning. A thorough knowledge is gained through education as well as real life experiences. Dependency on digital technology has increasingly changed the lives of individuals. In the modern era, knowledge is also gained from digital technologies such as computer, smartphones, televisions and the Internet. This essay will discuss the possibilities of digital technologies for knowledge and the negative impacts of the technologies by examining increased use of visual aids, access of information and by identifying if a dependency on digital technologies creates health issues and cultural and social impacts as society replaces traditional technologies with digital.
In the modern era, technology helps in creating, storing and managing of information digitally. A survey conducted in 2010 by Records management practices and arrangements reported that time and cost benefits in accessing archival information, the better security of information and improved compliance with legislation and procedures to ensure privacy is maintained (National Archives of Australia 2015). In the past, with the use of print media, people would spend time utilising mail, handbills and posters for immediate and focused distribution of their information. Today digital media gives us social media such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter that connects people instantly and information is disseminated at low cost being judged and monitored on a ‘click’ basis. Effectively if it is available on the internet, it can be accessed and distributed by keystroke with no actual physical labour. Obviously this lowers the cost of the information and enables distribution to a wider audience.
Access to the abundance of information on the internet and speed at which any individual can access any information from any location has meant that the net generation and internet users prefer quick information and spend less time evaluating information. People tend to use data anywhere at anytime due to faster and easier access. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2012) published that 13.3 million people accessed data from home for such tasks as emails, doing research, browsing news and general interests and utilising online banking. They also used the ability of the internet to share material with diverse interest groups.
Twitter in particular was viewed as useful for this purpose as it is global, responsive and provides a source of relevant links enabling people to publicise their blogs and to follow those of others using hash-tags (Lupton 2014, p.30). Modern data analysing, using photos and illustrations is a very efficient way in gaining knowledge in abundance. The use of digital technology is enabling the continual development of visual aids. This is magnified greatly using Windows, interfacing technology and other imaging tools, more so than contemporary books and papers.
Visual information helps in the decision making process providing a definite interpretation of information. In the past, learning and teaching was primarily text-based reflecting traditional teaching based on cognitive or behavioural science (Sims, O’Leary, Cook & Butland 2002). It is now possible to support visual and multimedia formats on wireless devices at anytime to anyplace (Sims, O’Leary, Cook and Butland 2002). Visual images such as tables, graphs, photographs and maps can be presented in the form of a report. These visual images are used more in our everyday life as a teaching resource in school or a visual reference in a business presentation.
Visual images make the written data and oral presentation easier to understand and assist in the decision making process. Good decisions are based on research, digital information and Records management contribute to making decisions based on fact. Timely decisions are facilitated by ready access to information. Understanding past decisions is assisted by access to the digital data that originally supported the decision (National Archives Australia 2015). In the transition from literature to digital and from text to visual, an individual has to be aware that a dependency on digital technology can create issues.
The internet is a bundle of information that allows the expression of ones’ self. This expression on a personal web page is likely to be a more considered controlled impression than one gained from an offline or public encounter. A web page can provide an emotional release enabling artistic ability to be incorporated in its layout. Chatrooms are a form of communication that gives the opportunity to speak to someone in a different country without the cost of long distance phone charges. It is instant and not like the olden times where an individual had to wait for mail to be delivered. Technology makes it easy to communicate when we wish and disengage at will. Educational websites offer phenomenal information covering a wide range of topics that vary from completing assignments to studying ones ancestry.
People depend on the web when dealing with emotions. Some simply use the web to replace a paper diary recording their thoughts and responses or seeking to rationalise experiences through the web. Physiological changes have been seen in the more impressionable, such as children, who may overuse technology and exhibit changes that mimic changes scene in high stress states, such as high heart rates, fast paced breathing and hyperacute hearing and vision (Rowan 2010). It has been suggested playing violent video games leads to increased aggression and reduced empathy suggesting these games may desensitise children to violence (Rowan 2010). People have a tendency to retain the information that supports their ideas or viewpoint. Having access to technology that enables access to pages of information creates a situation where people search only for collaborating information and promote misinformation supporting their beliefs irrespective of social impacts. As we search the Internet we need to be aware of its perils such as identity theft and fraud but the biggest effect is cultural and social effects.
Family and friends can find themselves competing with digital technologies for time and attention. Time spent with an ipad, tablet or computer is a minute lost that could have been spent interacting with the world around them whether it be a friend, family, or peers and react to extra senses such as articulation in voice or body language both which can be lost in the digital world. Face to face contact has become a thing of the past. People maybe not spending as much time as they used to or could be together. Properly used technology helps us advance both as an individual and a civilization but improperly used, it can alienate us from each other and even hinder our physical and psychological development.
Emotional distress, alienation and loss of privacy can all be experienced if, for example, intimate images are spread perhaps virally beyond the intended recipient or depiction in texts of individuals who may be targeted by their peers for social and emotional abuse because of the wide distribution of information whether visual or text (Ives 2012, p.46-47). This sort of unsocial interaction could have a widespread effect on children at school and work colleagues, the lasting psychological effects could be carried into future generations. This may lead to suicides, charges and withdrawal from society.
The advancement of digital technology has become the centre of our information behaviours with the amount of available information online surpasses anything previously known and many of us have this information at our fingertips. So the challenge is to apply our thinking to this available information, our awareness and understanding of facts, truths and beliefs resulting from perception, learning and reasoning and the result is knowledge. Social media and database archives never before have been more connected to the modern world. Socially a lot of people benefit from the virtual world, and some people are suffering because of it. Digital mainframe and archives are helping to preserve our knowledge for future generations, but in the event of a web crash or system error, it also shows how fragile this digital age is. This basic process of turning information into knowledge has not changed but now is made more difficult by the sheer volume of information or data to access.
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012, How Australia accesses and uses the
Internet, cat no. 1301.0, ABS, viewed on 02 February 2015,
Belisle, C 2006, ‘Literacy and the Digital Knowledge Revolution’ in A Martin &D Madigan (eds.), Digital literacies for Learning, Facet, London, pp. 51-67.
Ives. EA 2012 iGeneration: The Social Cognitive Effects of Digital Technology on Teenagers, viewed 25 January 2015,
Lupton, D 2014, ‘Feeling Better Connected’: Academics’ Use of Social Media. News and Media Research Centre, University of Canberra, p.30.
National Archives of Australia 2015, Benefits of digital information and records, viewed 01 February 2015,
Rowan, C 2010, ‘Unplug-Don’t Drug: A Critical Look at the Influence of Technology on Child Behaviour With an Alternative Way of Responding Other Than Evaluation and Drugging’, Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, vol. 12, no.1, pp. 60-68.
Sims. E, O’Leary. R, Cook. J & Butland. G 2002, Visual Literacy: What is it and do we need it to use Learning Technologies effectively, Learning Technology Support Service, University of Bristol, United Kingdom, viewed 05 February 2015,
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