Thursday, January 17, 2008

Global Perspectives: Reference Points for a New Generation

During the past two days, students in the Global Communications class have been blogging on the first of the "10 Flatteners" from Thomas Friedman's,"The World Is Flat." In reading their blog posts, I was really struck by the different perspective the students have regarding world wide events.

The fall of the Berlin Wall was definitely an event of huge cultural and political significance to people in my age range (45) because it ended the "Cold War." During my school age years, we were taught to fear the Soviet Union and it permeated the society. Being a history major in college, I learned the genesis of the fear of the Soviet Union, the Kennan 'Long Telegram' and how the United States reacted to it during the 1950's with Dulles' 'Containment Policy.' The Containment Policy became the basis for the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

The students in our schools today do not have a frame of reference for events like this. The fall of the Berlin Wall occurred a few years before their birth and the first event they have a collective consciousness about is September 11. I'm sure that people older than I had the same dichotomy when it came to world events and the younger generation, but it seems that the separation has become a chasm. I guess that is part of the reason I feel classes like Global Communications are so important.

What are the goals? Perspective. One of the advantages of a hyper-texted life is that the creator or the reader can add the third dimension, depth to the page. Read a book, watch a movie or television show, look at a painting, what do you get? Height and width... Hyper-texting adds the depth to any medium and this is the bridge across the chasm.

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