Due to the ever changing world of technology, Gregory Ulmer has created a term to refer to ones ability to adapt to it. This term is called ‘Electracy’ and while I agree with Ulmer on most fronts, I also disagree with some of the points he has made towards electracy. I also believe that Ulmer still has a long way to go until society will start to use the term in a more common environment.
In it’s most basic definition, Electracy is being literate to technology. It is the skill that allows people to use electronic media to its full potential, almost like how being literate is a skill that allows humans to read and write. Thus, if someone is anelectrate, they are illiterate to electronic media and cannot use its capabilities fully. From up to this definition, I completely agree with Ulmer that electronic media has expanded so much and has been a basic part of human life that it has become an entirely new ‘language’. The problem is that Ulmer begins to expand electracy into something more complicated and unrelated to its original purpose and definition.
By first understanding why I disagree with Ulmer about certain things, one must know that I believe that to be literate is to have the ability to read and write, and not something more complicated. The problem I have is that Ulmer refers to literacy as a science while electracy is an art. Although literacy probably does have some kind of scientific creation to it, I believe it to be just the ability to read and write, nothing more and thus it does not make a lot of sense to categorize it as a ‘science’. Also, without literacy, we would not be blessed with great works of art like To Kill a Mockingbird and Brave New World. So thus, I cannot understand the ‘science’ to it at all. In relation to electracy being an art (and not a science), I also do not understand this as well. Electracy is the ability to be literate to electronic media, which is thus created by certain sciences. The way electronic devices are made and programed is a science all in itself.
Also, I admit, that I am not the most intelligent person out there, so when I began to find sources to Ulmer’s ‘electracy’ I found most of its descriptions to be either entirely vague or the words extremely complicated for an average person to understand. It was not until I stumbled onto Richard MacManus’s article on electracy that I began to understand the point that Ulmer was trying to make. He manages to sum up Ulmer’s thoughts on electracy easily enough for everyone to understand. MacManus also points out that Ulmer does not wants to entirely get rid of literacy (which was what I thought he was getting at in other books and articles) but to integrate the two together in the learning environment. This, I agree with since the world today is getting a lot more technology-based and almost everyone needs to understand some of the basics of electronic media. Although I do have a few disagreements with Ulmer’s ideas and terms, I believe that he does have a good reason to create them and that it will shape the world in the future, it just might take a while for people to fully understand this term and what it encompasses.
Electronic Monuments By: Gregory Ulmer
Prefiguring Cyberculture: A Intellectual History By: Darren Tofts
Electronic Collaboration in the Humanities: Issues and Options By: Annemarie Jonson & Alessio Cavallaro