On One Foot: The Heart of Text Me via the Graphic Novella “It’s Complicated: Scully and the Smart Phone”

On One Foot: The Heart of Text Me (the book, the website , and the workshops)

Below is the link to It’s Complicated: Scully and the SmartPhone, a 2 ½ minute graphic novella about the relationship of Scully (a 3 year old border collie and australian shepherd mix) and his relationship to technology.

BACKGROUND

A very useful framework for good education holds that it is “the art of making the simple complex, and the complex simple.” Much of Text Me: Ancient Jewish Wisdom Meets Contemporary Technology focuses on making the simple complex. We too often take our relationships to our devices and technology in general for granted. Operating in the mode of “complexification” the major thrust of the volume is to help us challenge what we take for granted about our relationships to technology.

This graphic novel strikes the opposite chord, seeking to make the complex simple. In a way, it mirrors the many sided and ironic challenge to Hillel to explain all of Judaism while standing on one foot. Scully suggests that if we ask ourselves too deceptively simple questions we will have gotten to the very heart of the Text Me book, website, and project. The two questions are drawn from the seminar work of Marshall Mcluhan:

First we shape our tools and then our tools shape us. Is this true? Are we indeed shaped by our technologies?

Is there a round three? Do we ever get to reshape the way our tools have shaped us?

SUGGESTIONS FOR FACILITATION

While the facilitator can go directly from viewing the novella to a dialogue, it is sometimes useful to “play” the audience. I do this by pointing out that our default assumption (certainly of modernity perhaps of post modernity as well) is that we are in charge. How can something be shaping us? Aren’t we the shapers of our own selves?

The dialogue can serve as a relatively short “advanced organizer” for exploring other aspects of the book but it also can be the focus for a longer dialogue. Moving from hevruta/dyads for an immediate response, to small groups sharing their hevruta questions , and then back to the whole group for some questions for the road makes for a deeper exploration.