I believe the guy you are talking about is Michael Wesch. He has an interesting talk about YouTube. His first online piece was the Machine is US/ing US.
We just had an example of the impact of this communication that had the opposite impact - not alienating, but bringing people together. Late New Years Eve, a BART (our rapid transit system), there had been some sort of altercation, the cops were called and the train was held at a station. One young guy was forced to the platform and a cop shot and killed him. The incident was captured on cellphone and possibly other recording devices by riders on the train. Some managed to not have their phones confiscated and by the next day it was one of the top viewed YouTube videos. The television picked it up and replayed various videos. And, amidst the silence of every public official, the reality was evident for all to see, leading to demonstrations and finally, after 2 weeks the arrest of the main officer involved.
So, in our classrooms and many other areas we observe a certain level of alienation. But, oddly enough the 100th monkey sort of effect operates through this Web 2.0 sort of networking.
>>> "Bob Muckle" <bmuckle@...> 01/15/09 3:47 PM >>>
I love hearing student excuses when they are unusual or creative. I got a new one today. At least it is new to me. A student comes into class about 15 minutes late. I don't normally ask for excuses, but today I did. He claimed that somebody must have entered his car and changed the clock, setting it 15 minutes behind. Because according to his car clock, he wasn't late at all. And apparently his car clock is very trustworthy. I thought that was pretty funny. But he was serious.
I know most people younger than me don't wear watches anymore but why he didn't just check his phone to see what time it was I don't know.
Later in the class, to illustrate a point about how fast some aspects of culture can change, I asked the entire group (about 30) how many owned and had with them right now a cell phone. Every single one did. I then asked how many had a cellphone that could not take a photo. Only one did and he explained that it was his back-up phone that he had this day. His primary phone could take photos. I told them that way back in the early part of this century, in 2001, I asked a group of 16 students how many had a cellphone. One did.
I told the students that I think cell phones have changed the way students interact quite a bit. When I used to teach long classes (ie. three or four hours) during a break and immediately after class most students would start talking with each other. Now it seems more common that students largely ignore each other and immediately take out their cell phones to presumably call someone. I also told them that I thought some anthropologist somewhere had published some research on how cellphone use is triggering or responding to changing social systems, but I can't recall the particulars of the research, who did it, or where it was published. If anybody is familiar with this or similar research, please let me know where I can find it.