We’ll use a timeline technique to chart your technological growth in a visual form. From that timeline, you’ll select a single technology event in your life to write about in story form. Stories will be posted to a forum created in our Oncourse class site.
The technology autobiography gives you a chance to reflect on your relationship to technology. To take advantage of new technologies and learn to use them critically and effectively, you should understand how technology has shaped your life this far, with an eye for controlling its use in your future. The process is designed to help you understand how you learn new technologies, and by extension, how you cope with technological impasses (those moments when things don't work as planned). Understanding your past experience with technology will help you become a better multimedia writer, as you will bring a critical eye to bear on the opportunities and challenges of writing in the new media.
An autobiography tells the story of a person's life from the perspective of the person who lived it. A technology autobiography tells the story of a life with technology: the memorable experiences with and uses of technology throughout a person’s life. Some writers focus on a particular kind of technology (writing technologies, household technologies, media technologies, computer technologies, or gaming technologies, for example). Autobiographies are normally written from the first-person point of view and depict specific instances or stories that illustrate the writer's experiences, usually to make a point about them or to show how the author learned from them.
For this particular assignment, though, you’ll select a single event: one technology “happening” in your life that’s significant to who you are as a technology use today. It might be your first computer, your first cell phone, a realization that Facebook has changed you in some fashion, etc.
Questions to Consider Your Technology Life
As you plan your technology timeline, you’ll jot down your events that are important to your life with technology. Here are some questions to help you discover what you have to say.
Memory: What childhood experiences with technological devices or artifacts do you remember? What do you recall about your earliest use of technologies? Were they positive or negative experiences? What stories do your parents tell about your interactions with technology? What were the popular gadgets in your household when you were young? Did you have access to the technologies you wanted to use? Who made sure that everything worked? How often did the technologies fail?
Literacy: Who is the most "technologically literate" person you know? What makes his or her relationship with technology unique? What behaviors or characteristics does he or she exhibit? What have you learned about your own uses of technology from him or her?
Social Consequences: Are there social consequences for your lifestyle that hinge on your technological literacy/technology use? What are they? How would your relationships with others be affected if you suddenly had no access to technology?
The Future: What do you think will be required ten years from now to be technologically literate? What positive or negative trends in technological development do you see unfolding? How do you think they will affect you?
Learning: How do you learn new technologies? Among your friends, are you considered an "early adopter," a "late adopter," or somewhere between?
Access: What technologies do you carry with you? Which ones do you have where you do most of your writing? What new technologies do you want to own? How will you use them?
The Technology Timeline
Create a single line that begins with birth and ends at the present day. Figure out some way to divide the line into segments. For some who are older, there may be more segments or larger blocks of years established by the segments; for others, (say a 20-year-old), the mid-point would be just 10 years ago.
Now, mark some personal milestones for reference: kindergarten, junior high, high school graduation, driver’s license, etc. These help frame your personal life and give you a reference for then adding your technology events.
Add your technology events as they come to mind. Some might be obvious (firsts like computer, cell phone, digital camera, etc.); some are not so obvious (I remember when we got our first COLOR! television . . . . we were so cool!).
Select one meaningful event in your technology life (for me, it’s when I bought my first “real” personal computer) and write the story of that event. This can be a powerful experience if you take time to really write the details of the event including your feelings as well as your words and actions.
Post your story to the Oncourse Forum
Log in to Oncourse and go to the W200 site. Click “Forums” on the left side. Then click “Technology Autobiography - Spring 2011." Once inside the correct forum, click "Post New Thread." Copy and paste your autobiography text; DO NOT attach your autobiography as a Word file!