More Student Reactions to Slow Media

A few months ago, the students in my Media & Culture class spent some time engaging with Slow Media and then reflecting on their experiences. Why? Because I made them!

This assignment was motivated by the fact that they had found it difficult to stick with the Digital Detox for one whole day. Detox focuses on what you can't do, creating a void in which students got bored and time passed slowly. Instead of presenting the experiment as a negative — "you can't go online or use your cellphone" — I reconceived it as a positive: You have an opportunity now to devote a few hours to entertaining yourself with the analog "devices" of your choice.

An earlier post described the surprising reactions of students who played musical instruments, wrote in journals, watched videotapes and practiced calligraphy for their Slow Media Experiment. The surprising part, for me, was how nostalgic these 19-to-23-year-olds felt for activities that they enjoyed and made time for just a few years ago — activities that have been pushed aside, in part, by the increasing demands of cellphones and computers.

Here are more extracts from their essays, where one student calls her experiment "the weirdest three hours I have ever had" and another says she feels freer when untethered from a computer:

  • The first part of my experiment was doing pottery for my
    Introduction to the Potters’ Wheel class. I was either on the wheel making, or
    trying to make, new pieces, trimming the feet for pieces that were already
    finished, or glazing them. The first couple of weeks had me worrying about how
    I would do in this class; I never seemed to make anything good and it got me
    really frustrated. I turned out to be one of my favorite classes I’ve taken
    during my entire time in college. I think that it being not the typical class
    with desks or computers makes it better and gives you more freedom.
  • I chose to listen to vinyl records because my parents collect
    them and own a record player, but I’ve never actually listened to any of
    I felt this desire to dust them off and play the Beatles the
    old-fashioned way.
    When I listened to [them] for the first time, I couldn’t help but smile.
    really is the simple things in life that make us the happiest (…) It was
    great chance for my sister and I to hang out and just be teenagers all
    again. We felt like a couple of rock’n’roll kids from the sixties. I
    felt as
    though I really bonded with my sister through it.

Continue reading “More Student Reactions to Slow Media”

The Slow Media Project Got Harder


A view of my iGoogle home page on my new all-in-one iMac (left) versus the same page on my old Dell laptop (right).


Maybe I don't like digital media. Then again, maybe I just didn't like MY digital media.

Readers of this blog have already laid eyes upon the device I carry that passes for a cellphone, which will no longer enable the "walk-and-talk" or receive unsolicited texts once I start the Slow Media Project next month and replace it with a landline.

What you might not know is that last year, when I hatched this plan of going offline, I was using the crummy laptop pictured above as my primary computer. It's a miracle I got anything done on that thing, yet alone five years of work, including the vast majority of my dissertation.

Behold, however, my shiny new computer: a 24-inch iMac with beautiful resolution, a wireless mouse and 1TB of memory. I will miss it dearly — including, but not limited to, the Netflix that it beams into my home (soon to be replaced with basic cable).

People are usually surprised to hear that I do in fact love many aspects of digital media. But really, wouldn't the project be uninteresting if I hated the Internet? Then there would be no challenge, no sacrifice. It would be like me giving up sardines or pickles for Lent.