Spaces in the Digital Age
Not so long ago, if you asked “What major event took place in the summer of 1969?” during a lecture in an Introduction to World Politics course, the answer was simple. There you were, in the middle of an engaging series of exchanges with your students, highlighting the linkages between science and technology and the arms race, and the answer was, of course, “Woodstock.” Well, actually the answer you were looking for was the first landing on the moon during the famed month of August. Woodstock was, at best, part of another discussion on domestic influences on foreign policy issues and the war in Vietnam.
During a more recent class exchange, perhaps you posed the question “What major event took place in the summer of 1989?” In the context of a discussion on science and technology and the arms race, you might have expected to hear about Tiananmen Square, the collapse of the Soviet centralized state, the popular uprisings in Eastern Europe, and the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Those events from that summer, not so long ago, have been seared into the minds of many of us who are now instructors. In retrospect, however, it should not have been surprising that you were met with a deafening silence. Of course, 1989 was a very long time ago for our students. Most have no consciousness of those events in their preteen years. After what may have seemed an eternity, a guy in the corner fidgeting with his headphones tentatively raised his hand. “The big event,” he announced, “was the commercial birth of the Internet.”
Immediately, the class broke out in a collective sense of affirma-