New Technologies and Institutions

De Nuevas Tecnologías e Instituciones

Original publication March 22nd, 2013

Miriam Peña  Tr. EN: Miriam Peña

I posit the digital humanities as a diverse field of practices associated with computational techniques and reaching beyond print in its models of enquiry, research, publication, and dissemination. (N. Katherine Hayles*)

The first Technology Camp at UNAM has begun . This Tech Camp is directed to education in the use of technology, with a particular emphasis on teaching women. Leaving aside the inevitable conflict that comes with the division of education by gender, I was struck by the words mentioned by Martha Navarro in the opening ceremony: “UNAM recognized in the application of new technologies a vital tool that allows institutions, public and private, to ensure its competitiveness in the world “(1) .

Being true to my training, lets do a dissection of discourse : on the one hand Navarro speaks about “application of new technologies “, this implies a mastery of these technologies (which can range from the use of a word processor to an accelerator particles, but let’s not go that far … ); on the other hand this application and use of tools is directly related to the “global competitiveness “, indicating a growing need to be part of the globalization that technology has made ​​it possible; therefore : being a technological illiterate involves isolation.

The impact that new technologies have had throughout history is not new, perhaps becomes novel right now is the big difference seen in the approach and use made of contemporary technology. Julio Cabero pointing (in 1996) that the effects of new technologies and its scope “not only lie in the field of information and communication, but to reach beyond the cause and propose changes in the social, economical, laboral, legal and political [structures]”( 2); the fast and far reach that new technologies have appeared over 10 years ago is because thay not only focus on capturing information, but also in the possibilities to manipulate, store and distribute it. We are therefore surrounded by all kinds of information at our fingertips.

We have, first, an institutional concern for education towards technology; on the other hand there are predictions of the importance of these technologies for the dissemination of information; now, what are we doing with all this information and how we use the “new technologies “?. I can think of many possible answers, but we reduce the possibilities to two lines that interest me right now: a) the use of technology and management/ information consumption at “user level “; as a consumer and b) the use of technologies and management/ consumption/ production of information from the academic field.

The amount of information available and easily accessible is overwhelming in a natural lifespan; however, how the ‘common user’ faces she tends to be diagonal ; ie in digital media, the reader encounters a series of hyper-reading “which includes skimming , scanning, fragmenting, and juxtaposing texts, is a strategic response to an information-intensive environment, aiming to keep attention by Quickly Identifying relevant information, only relativamente So THAT GIVEN few portions of text are actually read “(3 , p.12). Despite the large amount of information, the consumer chooses what it extracts from it, how the user fragments it, and discard the rest; however, this does not imply a selective reading apprehension of this information, but makes it perishable and fleeting. What it does mean is that the reader is technologically competent, at least that is adapted to the arrangement in which the information is presented .

What is the difference between ‘common user’ the ‘academic’ one? Both have access to information, both (under optimal conditions) have access to digital/ electronic means to obtain such information; the answer to this would have been that the academic produces information. But no, not anymore, all users of new technologies are able to produce information and not only that, but they are able to disseminate it globally; such is the purpose of blogs, discussion groups, social networking… academia is no longer the only leading voice and the producer of information; as pointed out by Fitzpatrick ( 4), a somewhat free paraphrase, “a lot of written information is consumed and even occurs every second, the quality, veracity and validity of it is the sole responsibility of the issuer; in this regard academic production represents a very small percentage”.

We therefore intend to institutuionalize the education towrds technology and its use, but at the same time there is an obvious over-exploitation of digital resources and technology for a wide range of users, academic or not. The question is whether this institutional movement makes sense or if you we are running short. I think there is a misunderstanding on the part of the institution; technology users, even the most novice; it is true that I do not think anyone who owns a smartphone is an avid consumer of information and producer of it at the same time, but I think the gap is created from a social inequality, not from an academic dismissal. I´ll explain: In a developing country, as is the case of Mexico, access to new technologies is restricted (** ), to have the means or a way that allows all users to approach them; without this terms access is equal to zero, so we are talking about a very specific sector of the population that simply does not have access and, therefore, remains in the technological illiteracy.

If we accept the statement by Tapscott , quoted by Saklofske (5) as true:

” ` Net Geners Were Born from January 1977 to December 1997. One of the observations made ​​in Tapscott ‘s Industry That study is “the Net Geners have grown up digital and they’re living in the twenty -first century , but the educational system in many places is lagging 100 years behind ‘ . This gap Between What They find and what They want and need in education is due in part to the fact That Net Geners “want to customize things” and “make them Their Own ” institutional education but is still mostly predicated on a capitalist model driven by an outmoded concept of copyright and centralized , institutional ownership , and professorial authoroty . “(p. 319)

We found that the current student population is part of the Net Generation, therefore , as mentioned, the ability to understand new technologies and to develop a proper use of them is a logical consequence of the parallel evolution that occurs between society  and technology. Following this premise, it is the institution who is not up to the “progress”, that leads a delay in their teaching methods .

The parallels with the case of Mexico seem forced, but it is not, it is true that not all college grew up with a computer at home, but it is true that at some point in their educational growth they came in contact with current technologies over the two decades proposed by Tapscott. And not only that, but these users are those who now turn to a computer rather than a piece of paper to write a simple note.

We find that “the problem is not limited to the lack of training for a specific technology, but the lack of an appropriate structure to guide the use of technology. In other words, both the cultural context and the institutional, have not properly established a technological culture or a new paradigm”(6 ) .

Possible conclusion

The initiative UNAM had to open a space to educate on the use of new technologies is laudable; however, it becomes increasingly imperative that this education go beyond the superfluous knowledge of them. There are already millions of users, at different levels, but it is still necessary that this issue be fully integrated into the school curriculum, to educate the user, to invite them to continue with the practice. Without institutional participation in this work triples the difficulty of succeeding, but it is time to change paradigms and make academic proposals with this orientation as a key part in the way of technological illiteracy eradication .

  2. Julio Cabero Almenara, “Nuevas tecnologías, comunicación y educación”. EDUTEC REVISTA ELECTRONICA DE TECNOLOGIA EDUCATIVA, Núm. 1. FEBRERO 1996.
  3. N. Katharine Hayles, How we think. Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis. Chicago-London: The University of Chicago Press, 2012.
  4. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, “Reading (and Writing) Online, Rather Than on the Decline”, en Rosemary G. Feal (ed.), Profession 2012, Unites States: The Modern Language Association of America, 2012. pp. 41-52.
  5. Jon Saklofske, Estelle Clements and Richard Cunningham, “They have come, why won´t we build ir? On the Digital Future of the Humanities”, en Brett D. Hirsch (ed.) Digital Humanities Pedagogy. Practices, Principles, and Politics. United Kingdom: Open Book, Publishers, pp. 311-331.
  6. Casas, Miguel; Stojanovic, Lily (2013). «Innovación en la universidad iberoamericana » [artículo en línea]. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol.10, n.º1, págs. 61-74. UOC. [Fecha de consulta: dd/mm/aa]. <>


  1. *Epígrafe: N. Katherine Hayles, “How we think: Transforming Power and Digital Technologies”, en David M. Berry (ed.), Understanding Digital Humanities, New York: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2012. pp. 42-66.
  2. **Dato de 2010 tomado del INEGI: